Napoleon Dynamite Turns 20: We Interview the Cast

We celebrate the 20th anniversary of Napoleon Dynamite with the cast at the Sundance Film Festival screening.

I’ll never forget the first time I saw Napoleon Dynamite. It was in a Montreal movie theater in the old Forum building (currently featured in the Queen IMAX doc Queen Rock Montreal). The film had only been out a few weeks but had already started becoming a cult hit following its Sundance premiere. I remember it being a matinee on a weekday, and I was stunned when I saw several audience members wearing identical “Vote for Pedro” t-shirts. I knew from the reviews that it was a reference to the movie, and it was then that I had an accurate idea of just how deep the Napoleon Dynamite cult was going. 

And folks – that was TWENTY years ago! Crazy isn’t it? But yes, Napoleon Dynamite has been a thing since 2004, with it grossing $44 million on a $400,000 budget, and it’s known as being one of the best-selling DVDs of all time, in addition to the marketing bonanza it became thanks to the merchandising. Being one of the biggest cult hits to come out of the Sundance Film Festival, it was appropriate that the fest celebrated the film’s 20th with a gala screening, and I was thrilled to be invited to participate in the press line. While director Jared Hess wasn’t there due to him shooting the Jason Momoa video game adaptation Minecraft, I got to speak to most of the other folks from the film, including the iconic Pedro, Efren Ramirez, who gave JoBlo a big shout-out, and Napoleon Dynamite himself, the great Jon Heder.

Check out the interviews above, and big thanks to former Editor-in-Chief Paul Shirey, my former erstwhile partner on who you can catch on his own Arctic Ninja Network, for helping me with the shooting. 

Do you think Napoleon Dynamite holds up after twenty years? Let us know in the comments. 

About the Author

Chris Bumbray began his career with JoBlo as the resident film critic (and James Bond expert) way back in 2007, and he has stuck around ever since, being named editor-in-chief in 2021. A voting member of the CCA and a Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic, you can also catch Chris discussing pop culture regularly on CTV News Channel.