Heder is best known for his portrayal and co-writing of the title character in 2004's Napoleon Dynamite. He has also acted in The Benchwarmers, School for Scoundrels, Blades of Glory, Monster House, Mama's Boy, and Surf's Up.
Heder's career started and skyrocketed with the film Napoleon Dynamite, the brain child of BYU students Jerusha Elizabeth Hess and Jared Hess. Napoleon Dynamite was filmed in Preston, Idaho and earned more revenue than almost any other Sundance movie. Heder later graduated from BYU in 2010 with a BFA degree in Animation.
In June 2005, Heder received the MTV Movie Award for Best Musical Performance and Breakthrough Male Performance for the role. On October 8, 2005, he hosted Saturday Night Live with musical guest Ashlee Simpson. After his success with Napoleon Dynamite, for which he was paid only $1,000, Heder and his film co-star Efren Ramirez filmed a series of commercials to promote the 2005 Utah State Fair. They appeared as their characters from Napoleon Dynamite; in at least one commercial, they were shown with the FFA medals that they won in the context of the movie.
He appeared in the film The Sasquatch Gang. He had a supporting role as a clerk in a new age bookstore in the romantic comedy Just Like Heaven. He also starred alongside Rob Schneider and David Spade as part of the trio in producer Adam Sandler's The Benchwarmers (2006), a comedy about three grown men making up for lost chances by creating their own Little League baseball team. He was the voice of the character Skull in the animated film Monster House, and starred in the comedy School for Scoundrels, opposite Billy Bob Thornton and Jacinda Barrett. With the exception of the Academy Award-nominee Monster House, Heder's post-Dynamite movies were widely unsuccessful and he risked becoming a one-hit wonder until he co-starred in 2007 with Will Ferrell in the well-received Blades of Glory (2007). Like many of Heder's films, Blades of Glory is an absurd, slapstick caricature, in this case revolving around male figure skaters who must team up in a pairs competition.
Heder's second turn at voice acting came in 2007 when he voiced the character of Chicken Joe, a surfing chicken, in the animated film Surf's Up. His first foray into web television was in the 2008 web series Woke Up Dead starring and produced by Heder. Woke Up Dead is a web-based, live-action sci-fi comedy thriller about Drex, a twenty-something USC student who wakes up underwater in the bathtub one morning and suspects that he might be dead.
Jon and his twin brother Dan star together as villains in the fourth installment of the popular internet martial arts comedy series Sockbaby.
In 2012 Napoleon Dynamite was turned into an animated series. Jon is still Napoleon's voice and Jared and Jerusha Hess still worked with him to create the series.
Heder lives with his wife Kirsten Bales Heder in Los Angeles, California. The two have been married since 2002. The couple has a daughter, Evan Jane Heder, born on April 6, 2007.
- The Deseret News - LDS Living interviews ‘Napoleon Dynamite’ star Jon Heder (27 Mar 2012)
- Daily Universe - Viewpoint: New ‘Napoleon Dynamite’ cartoon better than expected (18 January 2012)
- The Deseret News - An interview with Napoleon Dynamite (17 Jan 2012)
- Deseret News - 'Napoleon Dynamite' animated series is funny, familiar, but not too family-friendly (12 January 2012)
- Daily Universe - Heder Trades in Tetherball for Bats (6 April 2010)
- Mormon Times - 'Napoleon Dynamite' still defines Jon Heder's career (5 Feb. 2010)
- The New York Times - Jon Heder Makes Foray Into Original Web Programming (23 Jul. 2009)
- Parade Magazine - In Step With Jon Heder (14 March 2006)