LOS ANGELES (Reuters Life!) - Jon Heder got his big break with the 2004 teen hit movie “Napoleon Dynamite.” Ice skates then propelled him to even greater heights in the comedy “Blades of Glory,” co-starring opposite Will Ferrell.
Having made his mark in both indie films and mainstream Hollywood fare, including “Monster House,” “Surf’s Up” and “School for Scoundrels,” Heder has now made his first foray into original Internet programming with “Woke Up Dead,” a sci-fi comedy thriller.
Now taping in Los Angeles, the Web series stars Heder as Drex, a 20-something college student who wakes up one morning to find himself inconveniently dead. “Woke Up Dead” will debut in October on Crackle.com in 23, four to five-minute episodes.
Q: It seems like this is a zombie flick, only on the Web?
A: “It plays with the conventions of the zombie-horror genre. Drex doesn’t believe he’s a zombie, but his friends start to realize he may be as he has no heart rate, all his vital signs are gone, and he has this hunger for brains. So it’s a tweak on the whole genre. It’s not that horrific, although there are a few scenes that get pretty bloody.”
Q: How much of you is there in Drex?
A: “The weaker parts of myself (laughs). He’s complaining a lot, but he has a lot to deal with — problems with girls, annoying roommates, no money, no job. And now he’s dead, it just makes it all even worse.”
Q: What was the appeal of doing a Web project?
A: “It’s a little more low-key and easily accessible on the Internet, and that idea was really cool. You can watch each new episode whenever you want, and there’s also a website involved, so there’s a whole world you can create. There’s the show and then all the spillover — the message board, behind-the-scenes stuff and so on. And we have a lot of footage taken by the actors themselves that you can watch. So you might believe it’s a real website created by the characters.”
Q: You’ve done small indie films and big Hollywood studio pictures. What’s the big difference between those and this?
A: “Surprisingly, not much. It still feels like shooting a regular film with all the crew, call times and same flow. They’re only four minutes long, but we’re shooting on a tight schedule, so it’s very full days.”
Q: And you’re also producing?
A: “I am. I like producing and I’d like to do more of it. I want to move more into that, and writing, and maybe directing at some point. I love that whole process.”
Q: What about more Web projects?
A: “Definitely. It’d be fun. There’s a lot to discover and play with — that feeling of ultimate freedom, except for the limited budget, of course.”
Q: Then, are you a big Web fan?
A: “I’m not, actually. I don’t browse much. I’m trying to get more into it. All my friends are like, ‘Did you see that? Did you check that out?’ And I’m like, ‘Er, no.’ I feel like a grandpa in that sense, a bit out of it. I’d rather sit in front of the TV and watch.”
Q: I heard you’d never do a sex scene because of your Mormon beliefs. So, no sex scenes ever?
A: “Probably not. You probably won’t see a lot of those with me. I don’t think you’d want to, anyway.”
Q: Is it true you speak fluent Japanese?
A: “Yes, it is. I lived there for a couple of years.
Q: Does it ever come in handy?
A: “Oh yes, when you come across a Japanese person in line at Disneyland ... you can really impress them!”
Q: I heard you’re very into ‘70s music and clothes
A: “It’s definitely my favorite era.. I love Led Zeppelin, Rush, all that stuff. If only I had a time machine, I’d go back there. Wouldn’t you?”