'Benchwarmers' Star Doesn't Have a 'Napoleon' Complex


Jon Heder's attempts to prove that his character in the new comedy "The Benchwarmers" are nothing like his breakout turn in "Napoleon Dynamite" are, at best, half-hearted.

"Did you see this movie?," he asks, as if that would suffice. "He's kind of a bit like him. It's kind of a watered down ... No it's different because he actually smiles and you get to see his teeth. You see a little bit more different sides and he's a much nicer guy straight-up than, I guess, Napoleon. But it was nice to do something different I guess."

Given the degree of mainstream saturation achieved by "Dynamite," it's doubtful that Sony would get upset if viewers decide that Heder's new role -- paper-delivering mama's boy Clark -- was a lot like his more famous turn.

In "Benchwarmers," Clark and two fellow outcasts (Rob Schneider and David Spade) team up to become baseball champs, providing inspiration for a legion of kids picked last in playground games. Heder admits that growing up with his twin brother, he had more than a few geeky tendencies.

"We weren't that athletically inclined," says Heder. "We were making videos with our Ninja Turtle toys and I was kind of nerdy and we were making up languages and we watched 'Star Trek,' but we did it all with a cool sense of humor. We knew how to blend it into the regular lifestyle and make it cool I guess."

While Clark eventually develops some hardball skills in "Benchwarmers" and although Heder's next film is the figure skating comedy "Blades of Glory," the actor swears he isn't naturally drawn to sports movies.

"Honestly, I'll say it here -- I'm not a sports fan," Heder says. "I like to play now and then but I don't know who anybody is or what teams are playing. I'm out of my element in that world."

Even if "Benchwarmers" becomes a huge hit, Heder knows it's unlikely that it will stop people from approaching him in public to quote whole scenes from "Napoleon Dynamite."

"Obviously it will be hard to top 'Napoleon,' not just performance-wise but I want to do different performances and there are a lot of other things to do," he explains. " [I]t's got a lot of good lines and that phenomenon might not be topped again, which is fine. We all get one of those in our lives."

Heder has a production comedy with his brothers and he continues to work on computer and traditional animation all in the hopes of expanding his artistic horizons. One thing viewers shouldn't expect, though, is a dramatic Oscar-courting performance any time soon.

"I would like to do something that's somewhat dramatic but I don't see myself ever becoming that serious or doing stuff that's really dramatic, but somewhat dramatic," he says. "I'd like to do something that's more real and doesn't have to be laugh-out-loud funny. I'd always like whatever I'm involved in to be somewhat funny. I'm not ever going to get people to really cry or anything."

"The Benchwarmers" opens on Friday, April 7.

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