American actor Jon Heder was studying 3-D animation at Brigham Young University when he met Jared Hess, the director who would make his a familiar face. Hess cast Heder in his short film Peluca, and then in his full-length feature film Napoleon Dynamite. At 27, Heder had never appeared in a movie before, but the surprise success of the film gave him instant notoriety. Napoleon Dynamite was a quirky, low-budget comedy about a nerdy high-schooler in an outdated small town in rural Idaho. Heder's dead-on characterization struck a chord with audiences and the small independent film became a huge hit, raking in over 44 million dollars and winning the MTV Movie Award for Best Movie. Heder personally took home two awards from the ceremony himself, one for Breakthrough Male Performance, and one for Best Musical Performance, for his election dance.
Heder took a role in the Reese Witherspoon romantic comedy Just Like Heaven the next year, playing the slacker sidekick Darryl. He had an obvious knack for comedy, and so for his next project he starred alongside David Spade and Rob Schneider in the frat-boy comedy The Benchwarmers. Heder also lent his voice to the animated film Monster House and signed on to appear in the Todd Phillips remake of School for Scoundrels.