Seven years after it became a breakout hit and cult classic, Napoleon Dynamite is being resurrected as an animated show on Fox in 2012. The new series will feature voices from the original cast, including Jon Heder, Efren Ramirez, Diedrich Bader, Jon Gries, Tina Majorino, Sandy Martin and Haylie Duff. These cast members, along with executive producer Mike Scully, were at Comic-Con to screen never-before-seen footage from the show and, after the panel, everyone participated in roundtable interviews with the press.
Bader said the script for Napoleon Dynamite is “still to this day, one of the two top scripts I’ve ever read,” the other one being the script for Office Space. Bader also said the animated show is just as hilarious as the movie. “We’ve continued the world of Napoleon. It’s very specific to that sense of humor. It’s extremely important that Jared and Jerusha [Hess] are on there, but also to have a really sympathetic writer like Mike Scully. It’s been fun. I get to play a bunch of different characters that I wouldn’t normally be cast as, like a Liger. Normally, that wouldn’t be in my roundhouse.” Check out what else he had to say about working on the new series after the jump:
Question: First, I have to say that I really loved Outsourced.
DIEDRICH BADER: Aw, thanks. Yes, I was very sad about that, too. It actually really hit me, that one. Every show has to be ultimately canceled, but I felt like we weren’t done. It was really, really fun to work on. It was a great cast. It was a very nice cast. And Robert Borden, the showrunner, was an extremely nice guy. It was a very congenial set to be on. I wouldn’t name them, but a lot of sets are dysfunctional places and they only get more so, and we were getting friendlier and friendlier and friendlier. So, I think you could feel that on the show. There was a nice ensemble feel, which actually segue-ways to this show because everybody on this show is actually really, really nice, and that doesn’t happen often. I remember when I shot the movie, everybody was so sweet. They played basketball after the shoot. We were in this tiny little town in southern Idaho, and who knew what was going to happen with this picture. It was at a time in independent cinema where you could actually shoot an independent movie. Now, it’s so hard to get the financing and nobody wants to do it. It was a tiny, tiny movie, and I was told not to do it by my agency. They’re still my agents, but they were like, “What’s the point?” But, you never know.
Did you just see the humor in it?
BADER: It’s still, to this day, one of the two top scripts I’ve ever read – Office Space and this. I read both of them in bed. My wife was reading next to me, and I could not stop giggling. After page five of it, it’s such a gentle town and there’s no jokes, per se, but it just had this cumulative effect of making you start to giggle. By page 30, I was really starting to laugh, and there was another 60 pages to go. It was a very good script, and this script is hilarious too. We’ve continued the world of Napoleon. It’s very specific to that sense of humor. It’s extremely important that Jared and Jerusha are on there, but also to have a really sympathetic writer like Mike Scully, who’s a fantastic writer. He’s really, really fun and runs a great room. He’s beloved my his staff. So, we’re in really, really good hands. And, to have the all of the people that were on camera, off camera, is pretty rare. It’s been fun. Also, I get to play a bunch of different characters that I wouldn’t normally be cast as, like a Liger. Normally, that wouldn’t be in my roundhouse.
What’s it like to come back after this extended absence from this character?
BADER: Yeah, seven years. It’s weird. I was asked if I needed to brush up on the voice, but I’m asked almost continually to do the voice, both professionally and in my personal life. Kids want to hear it. Kids are still watching it. It’s amazing. I shot one day in southern Idaho and kids still come up.
Since the actors were relatively unknown. Did that make a difference on the set? Did it make it more like going to camp?
BADER: It was really like camp. It was a very relaxed set. For example, they didn’t know you should do more than two takes. In television, you get around eight, and in movies you can get 60 takes for every set up.
It seems like Napoleon is not that far off from Jon Heder.
BADER: When I first met Jon, I wasn’t sure whether or not the movie was written around him because he was so close to him. He just looked so distinctive.
And now, is he different?
BADER: He’s changed his hair, but other than that, he’s still the same.
What do you think it is about this movie that still resonates with people?
BADER: I think it’s very distinctively of itself. It has such a distinctive sense of humor and, so often what happens in show business, is that they want it to be just like something else that just happened – whatever is the latest success. So, you have to tailor the script to fit into whatever it is that’s selling, at that exact moment. It is a factory town, so we tend to produce the same-looking cars. This was like a Mini coming out.
I still think there’s a lot of room for independent cinema. I’m really passionate about it. I just wish there was more of it, particularly comedic-ly because I think people have senses of humor that don’t necessarily fit in the box of what you’ll see at Comic-Con. What you’ll see is that we’ve managed to continue the show and I don’t think you could have the show be an on-camera show anymore because it’s just so distinctive to itself that it would feel almost odd and hackneyed for you to even do a sequel. But, if you make it an animated show, you can push the absurdity of the original script to a level that is actually natural and organic to the sense of humor. I wish Jared was here, so you could see how distinctive a character he is as well. What you’re going to see is his voice, through the show. It’s very strange, but the table reads were hilarious and the records were great. It is extremely distinctive.
A lot of people love Rex. What can people who tune into the show expect with his character?
BADER: Rex is running an Ultimate Fighting Championship and he’s going to continue his relationship with Starla. It’s fun to see how they flesh out all the different characters. It’s fun to be on a series. The strange thing about a film is that it’s a finite thing and it ends. But, we were not really done with the characters at the end of Napoleon, so this is a nice organic continuation.