Why Hollywood won't cast Jon Heder

Jon Heder shot to fame with the 2004 indie hit Napoleon Dynamite. Just a few years later, he'd pretty much disappeared from the spotlight, and these days, it seems like movie studios want nothing to do with him. Why isn't Jon Heder welcome in Tinseltown anymore?

He's kind of a one-hit wonder

This isn't to say that Jon Heder is a bad actor. He's made some enjoyable films. It's just that no matter what he does, he's never going to shake Napoleon Dynamite. In School for Scoundrels, he attempted to play a romantic lead. In Blades of Glory, he played an eccentric, disgraced figure skater. Yet whenever audiences hear or see his name, they expect to see the curly-haired, bespectacled nerd who danced his way into movie watchers' hearts.

A string of flops

Again, Heder has made some good flicks. His more prominent movies, such as Just Like Heaven and Monster House, met with financial success, critical praise, or some combination of the two. But if you look at his filmography, those are the exceptions to the rule. Most of his films, like Mama's Boy or Bling, were greeted with critical wrath or outright indifference. Even worse, the majority have made very little money. Whether or not that's Heder's fault, his name's attached to those projects.

He's not really a nerd

Take away the hair, the glasses, and the "Vote for Pedro" T-shirt, and Heder looks nothing like the awkward, dweeby heroic nerd fans took him for in Napoleon Dynamite. In real life, Heder resembles a classic, rugged leading man with a five o'clock shadow, square chin, and sharp jawline. Perhaps when the geek masses saw the true Heder, they felt betrayed and turned their backs on him—and suddenly there was no one left to buy tickets to his flicks.

He'd rather do voice work

Even though we haven't seen that much of Jon Heder, it doesn't mean he's out of the picture. In fact, he's been behind it. Beginning with 2005's Monster House, Heder booked a lot of voice work for video games, animated films, and cartoons, which includes an animated series/quasi-sequel to Napoleon Dynamite. As of this writing, he's completed almost 20 projects of this ilk, and the work seems to be ramping up. It's not surprising, considering his, let's say, distinctive voice. So it could be a matter of him not wanting to bother with Hollywood anymore, just like his other venture…

And web series work

His prolific voiceover career keeps him busy, but Heder hasn't stayed completely behind the scenes. Like many creative professionals, he's gone to work for himself by taking his talents to the internet. Since 2009, Heder's appeared in several web projects, like the zom-com Woke Up Dead. With these successful ventures, and the sans-studio freedom it affords him, there's no reason for him to bother with Hollywood productions. He's already got all the opportunity he needs.

Not enough controversy

Jon Heder leads a fairly innocent life. The reason movie watchers are attracted to some celebs—like, say, Lindsay Lohan—is that they're human trainwrecks. Or film fans clamor for a star who's overcome a serious, debilitating problem, like Robert Downey, Jr. Either way, studios love this—after all, there's no such thing as bad publicity. Heder's never had any problems like this. Nothing sensational ever occurred in his life. In fact, he's even made sure to stay away from potential projects because he believed they'd attract the wrong kind of attention, and conflicted with his Mormon faith. He might be so squeaky clean that there's nothing for ticket buyers to stick to.

What's next

If he wants, Jon Heder could revive his career easily, and he doesn't have to compromise his values at all. As a father of three, it should be a piece of cake for this indie star to develop a project that appeals to audiences of all ages without being cringe-inducingly corny. And seeing as how he's worked in multiple platforms, it's pretty much up to him how he gets his productions to the people. Or, if nothing like that pans out, he could always take after Kip and train to become a cage fighter.