Feature: Jon Heder talks Blades of Glory
Note: This article was originally published in Technician on March 29, 2007.
Napoleon takes to the ice
Jon Heder is probably best known to most as the socially inept yet lovable Napoleon Dynamite. However, ever since that small film became a cult sensation, the actor has had the opportunity to work with many veteran directors and actors and make a name for himself in Hollywood. He can next be seen alongside Will Ferrell in Blades of Glory, a comedy about two male figure skaters who end up competing as a pair.
According to Heder, it's a film audiences are lucky to see. There was a brief period of time during which it was nearly cancelled, after the actor broke his ankle during training.
"I wish I could say it was a cool accident and I was doing a cool trick, but I wasn't. I was going into a spin and my foot stayed stuck in the ice, so I just kind of crumpled on top of it," Heder said. "There was a brief time where we really thought the movie wasn't going to happen."
Luckily, he was able to heal and complete the production. One of the biggest things he said attracted him to the project was the opportunity to learn how to figure skate. He found the sport to be demanding both physically and in terms of his acting.
"It was a challenge but I loved it. I was extremely excited to learn a new skill," Heder said. "It's athletic, but you're acting at the same time. You have to work your muscles but you also have to be showy. You have to have grace and pizzazz."
Unlike some of the other films he's been in, the physical nature of the role combined with the larger scale of production made it a challenge to work on.
"It was like a workhouse. We did have a fun time, but as opposed to some of the other sets I've worked on, it was a lot of hard work," Heder said. "We get there and we want to be funny but we also want to look good on the ice."
Heder said working with Will Ferrell was a good part of making the movie.
"It's great. There's no ego. All the guy cares about is making people laugh and entertaining people," he said.
There was, however, a little friendly competition between the two actors.
"The competitive parts usually came on the ice, like who was the better skater. We were both kind of new at it," Heder said. "I remember thinking, 'Will has three extra weeks of training than me, but I can still skate circles around him.'"
Despite the difficulty of the work, he and Ferrell were able to find ways to improvise and have fun on the set. For example, the actors would often invent new and unique figure skating maneuvers.
"'Love Dust' was a move I came up with. It's pulling the sparkles out of your heart, blowing them into the air and letting them fade into existence through your fingers," Heder said.
Heder also had input on some of the costuming choices for his character.
"I'm very proud of the peacock costume. That was kind of my doing," Heder said. "We got the idea from Johnny Weir, who's a great American figure skater who had a swan outfit that he used one time."
Weir was not the only professional athlete to influence the film. Many figure skaters were consulted for the film, and even have cameos in the final product.
"There's a lot of famous skaters that came on. The one I interacted with the most was Scott Hamilton. He was really cool," Heder said. "He was the one that was kind of telling us, 'There's crazier stuff in the world of ice skating. You need to go farther!'"
Although he would be interested in doing more dramatic roles, the actor said he finds comedic roles to be very enjoyable.
"There's something fun about it. You feel good when you can make someone laugh and make yourself laugh," Heder said. "I really enjoy physical comedy, kind of turning your body into a cartoon. You can get so much about a character through the way they position themselves and the way they move."
Blades of Glory opens nationwide Friday, March 30.