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'Napoleon Dynamite': It's probably the best drawing I've ever done

by jmaloni
Wed, Jan 11th 2012 09:45 pm
`Napoleon Dynamite.` (photo copyright TCFFC/FOX)
"Napoleon Dynamite." (photo copyright TCFFC/FOX)

Behind the Screens with Joshua Maloni

It's one of most quoted movies of all time.

It's set either in the mid-90s or the mid-80s ... no one's really sure.

It features Kip, Uncle Rico, Rex, Deb and Pedro.

It's "Napoleon Dynamite" (sweet!), and it's headed to FOX's "Animation Domination" comedy block (series premiere Sunday at 8:30 and 9:30 p.m.).

Film writers Jared and Jerusha Hess are returning to Preston, Idaho, to revisit the life and times of Napoleon (Jon Heder), a wolverine-hunting, boondoggle-making teen who does whatever he feels like (gosh!).

"I was excited," Heder said of reprising the once-in-a-lifetime role that made him famous. "I mean, we had always talked in the beginning about doing something, whether it be a sequel or an animated or a live action ... but I was excited, because I'm finally able to tell fans like, 'Yes, we're making more stuff.' That's the No. 1 question you always get, like, 'Is there going to be any more Napoleon?' Whether it be a sequel or television show or whatever, and I'm happy to say the adventures of Napoleon will continue. I was just really excited to kind of get back into the character and get back with everybody involved with the film - the rest of the cast, and Jared and Jerusha - and ... re-enter that world."

"We'd always felt if we ever continued the adventures of Napoleon that we would do it in animated form just because it seemed like the film would translate well into animation," said Executive Producer Jared Hess. "It was a way that we could get inside Napoleon's head, as well, but we've just had a lot of fun re-exploring his world. There are new characters that we discover in the town of Preston (Idaho), as well, that you'll see as the series progresses. It's been a lot of fun to be able to make the transition to animation and be able to kind of do things that you can't do in live action, but you can do in animated form" (think ligers, nunchucks and underground fight clubs).

Heder said, "It was pretty easy" to get back into character (and actually broke into a little Napoleon). "It's when I'm most relaxed. I remember when we did the movie, it was a very relaxing film to do, because it's just, like, you're kind of resting. You can hide behind your eyelids and you just kind of rest your voice. He doesn't have to scream that much, but it has been fun and interesting."

The biggest challenge, Heder said, is bringing Napoleon's lethargy into cartoon form. The character's half-closed-eyes, his obliviousness, awkward silence and random outbursts - "all that works for a movie, but for the lead character in an ongoing animated series, I've had to show way more emotional range in this role than I ever have in anything else I've done," Heder said. "I've had to explore all the different sides to Napoleon that I never knew was there, so, with the help of (writer) Mike (Scully) and Jared and those guys, it's fun for all of us. It's kind of like there have been many times in the recording studio where we're like, 'What would Napoleon say here?' or 'How would he react? Well, let's try this. Let's try that.' It's been a lot of fun."

Fans of the film will recognize some of Napoleon's trademark sayings (heck, yes!), but they'll also be introduced to some new quotables.

"Well, yes, I mean, I think going into it we felt, 'Well, are we going to save some of those classic lines or are we going to try to create new ones?' I think it's a blend," Heder said. "It's like, we didn't want to just jump out of the gate saying all the old stuff that everybody knows, but we wanted to obviously keep it somewhat familiar. I think there is a lot of new stuff that people are really going to grab onto."

Actors from the "Napoleon Dynamite" film - including Aaron Ruell (Kip), Jon Gries (Uncle Rico), Tina Majorino (Deb) and Efren Ramirez (Pedro) - will voice their characters in the cartoon. The series will some introduce new characters, too (guest stars include Amy Poehler, Jennifer Coolidge and Jemaine Clement).

Following Sunday's premiere, "Napoleon Dynamite" will air Sundays at 8:30 p.m. on FOX. Follow the show online at http://www.fox.com/napoleon-dynamite/.

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