Every now and then a movie comes out that’s just full of fun and good feelings. In 2004, we were graced with the release of Napoleon Dynamite, one of the most quotable experiences of all time. Yes, it’s an experience. Don’t act like you’ve never done the Napoleon dance, worn a “Vote for Pedro” shirt or gloated about going home to Starla at night. Napoleon Dynamite is an American classic, and in 2014, the cast gathered at 20th Century Fox Studios for a statue unveiling to commemorate 10 years of Napoleon.
It’s been thirteen years now since Napoleon Dynamite was in theaters, if you can believe it. Some of its stars have remained active while others have taken detours away from the spotlight. Regardless, no one will forget their contributions to the 2004 cult classic. But now it’s time to get your llama casserole out of the oven and ask yourself, Where Are They Now?
15. Efren Ramirez (Pedro)
The ambitious Pedro is one of the most recognizable characters in Napoleon Dynamite. Though he meant well, he often got in over his head and took his best friend, Napoleon, along for the ride. The most iconic example of this is when he ran for student body president and had an embarrassingly awkward speech. Napoleon came to his rescue with some sweet dance moves that are now part of pop culture history.
Not to be outdone by his fictitious counterpart, Efren Ramirez has kept busy with several projects over the years. Most notably, he’s played Kenny Powers’ neighbor, Catuey, in Eastbound and Down and the ranch hand Esteban alongside Will Ferrell in 2012’s Casa de mi Padre. Ramirez most recently had a role in Crackle’s 2017 comedy, Mad Families.
14. Haylie Duff (Summer)
Every school has the popular, if not stuck-up, girl that has every guy’s attention. In Napoleon Dynamite, that girl is the snobbish Summer Wheatly, perpetually rolling her eyes and snapping her gum. She wouldn’t play tetherball with Napoleon, she turned down Pedro’s dance request, and, of course, she had a chip on her shoulder during her presidential campaign dance. Not cool, but cool to be seen with. That person.
Since Napoleon Dynamite, Duff had a role on 7th Heaven as Sandy Jameson, a character who brought some pregnancy drama to the hit TV show. She’s also been on a plethora of small movies and has been the host of her own cooking show, The Real Girl’s Kitchen. Cooking has actually been a huge part of her life outside of acting, and she came out with her first cookbook by the same name in 2013.
13. Jon Gries (Uncle Rico)
Napoleon and Kip’s “babysitter” was their ex-athlete, steak-loving uncle with a video camera and creepy van. He’s so stuck in the past that he picked up a “time machine” while doing some online shopping so he could relive his glory days. When not buying stupid things, Rico liked filming himself throwing footballs through a tire. Or at a tire. Or somewhere in the general direction of the tire. Know what? Footballs are overrated. Why not put your skills on display by throwing a steak at your nephew’s face while he’s on a bike? That’s the Rico way.
Jon Gries had a lucrative career before Napoleon Dynamite, and it’s still going strong. He’s been in all the Taken movies, Lost, The Bridge and Dream Corp LLC. His next big project will be a role in rapper Lil’ Boosie, AKA Boosie Badazz’ film debut, Glass Jaw. It’s a boxing movie currently being filmed.
12. Diedrich Bader (Rex)
When Kip and Napoleon decide to take some self defense classes, they seek out the tutelage of an All-American badass named Rex. Founder of the dubious martial art known as “Rex Kwon Do”, Rex barks orders and taunts people with his stars-and-stripes print parachute pants that just happen to be perfect for roundhouse kicks to the face. Oh, he’s not a failure, either. Would a failure go home to a female bodybuilder named Starla at night?
If there’s a king of “oh, it’s that guy” actors, it’s Diedrich Bader. He’s been a scene stealer for decades, and has expanded his horizons to the realm of voice acting as of late, voicing characters for The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy, BoJack Horseman, Batman Beyond, Ultimate Spider-Man and much more. Today, he’s co-starring in American Housewife, and has done a series of commercials for Time Warner Cable.
11. Aaron Ruell (Kip)
Napoleon’s older brother is always giving him a hard time and trying to make him jealous. It’s hard not to be jealous of stud who can chat online with babes all day, after all. Uncle Rico’s right-hand-man, Kip looks up to his pretender uncle quite a bit, even going so far as starting a door-to-door business selling dining ware with him. Though he struggles with actually making something of himself, he does manage to get the attention of LaFawnduh, a woman he met online. The unlikely couple ends up getting married in the end, with Kip dressing a bit like LL Cool J.
Choosing a more subtle life after Napoleon Dynamite, Aaron Ruell went on to direct Everything’s Gone Green and Mary, two short films that were showcased at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival. Ruell has focused much of his time on his website and photography lately, with his last TV project being the Napoleon Dynamite animated series.
10. Sandy Martin (Grandma)
If you haven’t figured it out yet, Napoleon’s family can be a little selfish and very direct. Grandma is no different. The zippy, short-haired matriarch has a llama that eats leftovers and an adventurous side that loves taking ATVs out for a spin. She’s about had enough of her grown grandsons’ absurdity, often leaving them alone and telling Napoleon to make himself a dang kay-suh-dill-uh.
It might surprise you that Sandy Martin is one of the most accomplished actresses of our time. Her choice in roles is very diverse, being known as Mac’s crude mother in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, as well as the enigmatic “Brother Selma” on Big Love. Martin also has an enduring love of the stage, starring in the 2011 production of A House Not Meant to Stand.
9. Tina Majorino (Deb)
You would think all the chicks would dig a guy like Napoleon, but Deb seems to be the only one knocking on his door. Literally, and with a case full of key chains and other small trinkets up for sale. She’s trying to raise money for college, you see. Her mom also goes to college, or at least that’s what the word around town is. Deb is also a skilled photographer, just ask uncle Rico.
The talented Tina Majorino hasn’t done anything of note recently, but she went on to Veronica Mars as Mac in the years following Napoleon Dynamite. She also joined Napoleon alumnus Sandy Martin on Big Love before assuming the role of the ingenious Molly on True Blood. She was also in the 2014 TV show Legends with Sean Bean. There have been talks of a Veronica Mars revival, so we’ll see if Majorino will be on board should it happen.
8. Carmen Brady (Starla)
Would you expect Rex to settle for anything less than a woman with muscles bigger than his own? Starla’s a gentle, trusting soul in spite of her imposing appearance. Perhaps a little too trusting, in retrospect. When Rico tries demonstrating how her chest could look with his breast enhancements using pots for visual aids, Rex comes home and gives him a dose of freedom. Though if we’re being honest, Starla could probably tie both of them in knots without breaking a sweat.
Carmen Brady is best known for her bodybuilding, not her acting. Big surprise, to be sure. She’s been the champion of six bodybuilding competitions since 2004, including her last appearance in 2010 for the 55+ age bracket. Not bad, Starla!
7. Ellen Dubin (Ilene)
As we discussed earlier, Napoleon is a creative kid. But is he a good artist? You bet he is! So good, in fact, he decides to draw a picture for a girl instead of just asking her to a dance like some commoner. Her mom, Ilene, thinks he’s adorable, if not a little weird, but uncle Rico tips the odds in his favor with some subtle persuasion. Suggesting that a high schooler wets the bed is subtle, right?
The multi-talented Canadian, Ellen Dubin, has seen her fair share of success after Napoleon Dynamite, including a handful of TV and movie spots including 2016’s Nobility. But her bread-and-butter is video game voice acting. Her voice has been featured on major titles such as Fallout 4, World of Warcraft and Skyrim.
6. Emily Dunn (Trisha)
When your best friends are Don and Summer, you have a lot of keeping up with appearances to do. You can’t just go with anyone to the dance, so he has to be cool. Or at least look like he’s cool. Well, Napoleon has the capacity to be cool, as he draws a killer portrait of Trisha to woo her into going to the school dance with him. Ignoring the abundant lip shadowing on the drawing, she does end up going with him but immediately ditches him to hang out with her friends.
Emily Dunn hasn’t done a whole lot of acting since Napoleon Dynamite, though she has had a few small movie roles. Instead, she has been hard at work on video games for Disney in various capacities including 3D art, concept art and studio management.
5. Trevor Snarr (Don)
Don serves no other purpose than to make weird faces at Napoleon and drool over his girlfriend, Summer. It was particularly comical during the class president talent show. His facial expressions were so exaggerated, you could have put them straight into the cartoon. Well, at least he’s loyal as a pup to Summer, if nothing else.
Snarr has been very busy since taking on the role of dopey Don. He’s still acting, having appeared on Gold Fever, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and General Hospital. But what he’s accomplished off screen has been particularly impressive. He was in the Air Force Reserves for eight years, got a degree in Communications, and then worked as a publicist for the Utah Film Commission for three years.
4. Thomas Lefler (Principal Svadean)
The principal at Napoleon’s school is kind of an idiot. He’s oblivious to actual problems going on in his school, and instead opts to flex his authority in Pedro’s face whenever he can, and rarely keeping his racism in check. Well, maybe Pedro took it a little too far with that Summer pinata, but to suggest that it’s a source of pride to a school and a personal disgrace to himself is a big dramatic. He then forced Pedro to take down his flyers for class president. Ouch.
Not too many people hang up their acting boots to teach, but Thomas Lefler is currently an active faculty member at the Department of Theatre and Media Arts at Brigham Young University. He has also produced a few shorts such as Unicorn City, Der Ostwind, and, most recently, a short about a mime titled No Walk in the Park.
3. Shondrella Avery (Lafawnduh)
Kip’s love interest came fresh off a bus after the two hit it off in a chatroom. Lafawnduh quickly falls head-over-heels for the geeky manchild, but she isn’t so enthralled by his fashion sense, or lack thereof. That’s a pretty easy fix, though. Within a few days of playing dressup, she has her Ken doll decked out like a rapper from head to toe. He might not have much street cred past Lafawnduh, but at least Kip looks and talks the part now!
Shondrella Avery has kept her acting career alive in spurts since Napoleon Dynamite. She has been quite active with promoting both Boy Bye and A Weekend With the Family on her social media pages.
2. Elizabeth Miklavcic (Renae)
Deleted and extended scenes are a staple of DVD and Bluray releases these days, and the home versions of Napoleon Dynamite are no different. In one of the deleted scenes, Napoleon and Pedro look to get one over on the thrift store to get a suit. Napoleon holds a book up to the security camera while Pedro undresses a mannequin and stuffs the suit into a box. The store’s security guard, credited as Renae, stands up once she notices the camera being blocked, but she doesn’t do anything about it.
Like many of the other actors in Napoleon Dynamite, Elizabeth Miklavcic has kept busy other projects that don’t necessarily involve movies. She’s a multi-media specialist at the University of Utah Intermountain Network and Scientific Computation Center, and an avid digital artist. Some of her work can be seen at the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art.
1. Jon Heder (Napoleon)
Napoleon’s just your ordinary, awkward kid trying to find his place in the world. He’s loyal, imaginative, and has impeccable style and taste. Skills are important to Napoleon, as he’s convinced they’re what attracts the fairer sex. You know, computer hacking skills, nunchuck skills, hunting wolverines with a 12 gauge, those sorts of things. He’s quite practical, too, stuffing extra tater tots into his pockets whenever he can. Napoleon’s the whole package, and there’s nothing not to love!
Jon Heder has gone on to do quite a bit of voice acting since 2004, most recently lending his vocal talents to Star vs. The Forces of Evil and Pickle and Peanut. He starred in the short-lived, 2009 zombie comedy, Woke Up Dead next to co-stars Josh Gad and Krysten Ritter.
Heder has also been a major advocate for the film industry in the state of Utah.