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Jared Hess: Interactive Interview

Jared Hess: Interactive Interview

Jared Hess only turns 27 this year but he has already had experiences in Hollywood that even someone twice his age would envy.  He had an enormously successful debut film, Napoleon Dynamite, that has entered into a cult status unseen in years.  His new film, Nacho Libre, has so much buzz behind it, you would think it were a George Lucas film.  We got to sit down with Jared recently to talk about his career and, this is what came of it.

SHAKEFIRE:    After the instant cult status of Napoleon Dynamite, was there a lot of pressure on you while deciding on you next project?

JARED HESS: For me, it’s been very important to stay true to the type of stories and things that inspired me and Lucha Libre is something that I’ve been a fan of for a very long time.  It was a no brainer for me.

SF: So it is a true story?

JH: Yes, loosely inspired by the true story of Fray Tormenta who was a Catholic Priest in Mexico who began wrestling for a group of orphans.

SF: How did you learn about Fray’s story?

JH: I’ve been a big fan of Lucha Libre for a long time and I learned that Nickelodeon had the rights to an article based on this guy’s life and I got to go down and spend some time with him in Mexico.  He lives just outside of Mexico City.  There was actually a film that was made about him in the early ‘80s.  It was a French film that was more of a biopic but we were able to do something inspired by him.

SF: Was he alright with it being turned into a comedy?

JH: Oh yes.  Lucha Libre is something that is so outrageous and fun.  It’s something that you really have to experience live.  When you get down there it’s one of the most outrageous forms of entertainment that you can ever experience.  It’s something very therapeutic.  Basically, it’s something that you can go to and just let it all out.  Everyone has their favorite luchadors; there are Los Juegos and Los Técnicos and everybody picks their favorite.  There’s always a banter going on.  The ones they don’t like, they are always trashing them and the guys are trash talking back and making fun of each other.  It’s just a crazy and wild good time.

SF: It seems that we can now expect original marketing campaigns for Jared Hess films.  Is this something that you have a lot of say in?

JH: I feel very fortunate that with Napoleon Dynamite and (Nacho Libre) that they have involved me in the marketing process.  It’s been a lot of fun to market both films.  Lucha Libre is something that is so rich with crazy characters that it’s just been a lot of fun to come up with ways to market this film.  Lucha Libre movies have been around for years, they are no stranger to Mexican culture.  That’s kind of how I got exposed to, I saw one of Santo’s movies late one night on television when I was in high school and it was unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.  It was really different but it had a really cool aesthetic to it as well.

SF: How involved were you involved in Jack Black’s Confessionals?

JH: (Laughs) Yes, very involved.  That was a lot of fun to do.  Jack is a good friend.  Associate Producer Ben Cooley had a video camera (begins laughing hysterically) that he gave Jack and he just went off.  It was a lot of fun.

SF: Did you always have Jack Black in mind for the role of Nacho?

JH: We did.  I met Jack after a screening of Dynamite at the Comedy Arts Festival and we decided that we wanted to work together on something.  When this project came about, it all just kind of happened naturally.  He and Mike White had just formed their production company, Black & White, and it was just a very fun collaboration.

SF: Director’s cuts of films seem to be all the rage these days, for better or worse.  Should we ever expect a Director’s Cut of Napoleon Dynamite or Nacho Libre?

JH: You know, dude, there are definitely some scenes which I really really loved that didn’t end up in Nacho and will definitely be on the DVD.  If there is time to do a Director’s Cut down the road it could be really fun to go back.

SF: Are there any projects in the mix right now?

JH: Literally, two weeks ago, we wrapped the sound mix on this one so I’ve been 100% Nacho up until a short while ago.  I’m going to take a long needed family vacation and then begin working on some original ideas that I have in the Fall…another comedy.

The next few questions come from members of our Forums.
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WOLFE: Mike White was added into the writing rotation with you and your wife (Jerusha White).  What was that experience like?

>>>Download the MP3 of Jared answering this question! (42 Seconds)
JH: Yeah, it definitely was different but Mike was somebody that Jerusha and myself had been a fan of for such a long time.  We all just really wanted to collaborate together. Mike would come out to Salt Lake for a couple of weeks and we would write out here and we would fly out to Los Angeles and write from out there.  Looking back on the writing process, I can’t even remember whose idea was what because we all worked so closely in writing the script from beginning to end, it was just a lot of fun.

HAKEEM: Who got the idea for the steak throwing scene in Napoleon Dynamite?  That is the best scene I have ever seen in a movie.

>>>Download the MP3 of Jared answering this question! (8 Seconds)
JH: For me, it was just something that felt right.  I like the idea of food as a weapon.

FLAME: What scenes (from Nacho Libre) ended up on the cutting room floor that you wish you had room for in the film?

>>>Download the MP3 of Jared answering this question! (47 Seconds)
JH: There’s a whole Gypsy/Emperor sequence where Nacho and his tag team partner, Esqueleto, go to please the Emperor at his palace so they can learn the ways of evil.  That was one of my favorite scenes in the film but it will definitely be on DVD.  The studio thought it was kind of the weird acid-trip sequence but whatever, I loved it to death.  Peter Stormare is in that scene as well and it’s so fun.

Peter Oberth
Interview by Peter Oberth
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