In 2004, he danced his ways into the hearts and minds of comedy fans around the world. Now, 15 years later, Jon Heder is finally bringing Napoleon Dynamite to New Zealand.
Heder is headlining the Armageddon Expo at Auckland's ASB Showgrounds this weekend, where he'll appear alongside the likes of Harry Potter's Jason Isaacs and Marvel's Sean Gunn at the annual celebration of all things pop culture.
It's Heder's first time coming to New Zealand, though Napoleon – the highly meme-able comedy about a socially awkward teenager – has seen him travel the world since its release.
"We weren't expecting this big international hit when we made it," he recalls. "It's only really been English-speaking countries – Napoleon is hard to translate – but they have just welcomed us with open arms."
He says it is a surprise that the film became the success that it did, as it was a small-scale production directed by Heder's high-school friend Jared Hess.
"It was a truly independent production. It never felt like we were making a movie, it just felt like another school project."
It was so low-key that Heder never expected to even get paid - everyone was just excited to be working on a movie. It wasn't until Napoleon got accepted to the Sundance Film Festival that the reality set in.
"It really blew up once we made it there and that just opened it up to Hollywood," Heder says.
The film was a modest hit when it was released later that year, but it has lived on largely thanks to its distinct style and comedy, which has seen the film become firmly entrenched in pop culture in a way Heder and the team never saw coming.
Now, Heder says at every convention he goes to, he'll find himself confronted with dozens of versions of his younger self complete with big blond perm, massive glasses and the classic "Vote For Pedro" shirt.
"There's no way to predict that. There were jokes we thought could be one-liners but they were there 'cause they made sense to the story. I never thought they'd become talking dolls."
The ever-lasting fandom for the movie warms his heart and Heder says he is looking forward to discovering what the New Zealand fans bring to the convention table.
"Being able to hang out and talk with your fans and see them dressed up like you, it's way better than any kind of fan mail."
Armageddon takes place from tomorrow at 6pm until Monday at 5pm at the ASB Showgrounds. See armageddonexpo.com for details.