This Is What Kip From Napoleon Dynamite Looks Like Today

Gosh! The 2004 comedy, "Napoleon Dynamite" is officially a cult-classic (via IMDb), thanks to a goldmine of quotable exchanges, like Napoleon being ordered to "go make himself a flipping quesadilla!" It's been over 15 years since the teen from Preston, Idaho entered our lives, but Napoleon's legacy lives on. It's even been said that the seemingly '80s set neo-western film, which actually takes place in the early aughts, introduced us to an entirely new genre of quirky, awkward heroes (via JSTOR Daily). You're welcome, Michael Cera.

Yet, perhaps the comedic flick is most celebrated for giving us the gift of Jon Heder. Heder's portrayal of the title role Napoleon launched him into early 2000s stardom, even if he only got paid $1,000 for the iconic character. But it's another actor from the film that's turning heads in 2021.

Aaron Ruell played Napoleon's internet-obsessed older brother, Kip, who proved that internet dating can have a happy ending. After the film's debut, Ruell returned in 2012 to voice Kip in the short-lived animated "Napoleon Dynamite" reboot (via IMDb). And it turns out Ruell is committed to bringing the "Napoleon" universe into the COVID-19 era.

Aaron Ruell resurrected Kip during quarantine

The character Kip reemerged on social media in 2020. In an interview with Deseret News, Ruell revealed his inspiration for the comedic return to form. He saw a headline that read, "Who is the expert on self-isolation that we can all turn to?" and "Kip immediately came to mind," Ruell stated. "Who better to speak to social distancing (and) self-isolation than a guy who has been doing it his entire life?"

We don't disagree. Ruell's new account can be found @KipsTipss, with a bio that describes himself as a "Social Isolation Professional. Inspiration giver. Technology expert. Grandma's favorite. CEO." The first video features Ruell donning Kip's signature glasses, polo buttoned to the top and, of course, iconic mustache. Over a track of 1980s elevator music, Ruell introduces himself as Kip and explains he's here to "offer some help to people. Give you some tips on how to pass the time." 

Other videos range from financial advice to recipes to making homemade masks out of his grandma's old brassieres (via YouTube). Just be sure to wash it first! However brief this stint may be, we're grateful to Ruell for bringing Kip back into our lives.

Ruell based the character Kip off his brother

In a 2020 interview with Muse by Clio, Ruell revealed that his "Napoleon Dynamite" character work came from within his own family tree. "Here's the thing about Kip — he's basically my real life brother," Ruell revealed. "I have a brother who lives with my parents, and he leads the life that Kip does. Or vice versa." Ruell's off-screen connection with the character makes perfect sense considering the time and effort he put into reprising the role. 

He even contacted the film's original director, Jared Hess, for permission to resurrect his intellectual property. Thankfully, Hess responded with three capital letters: "YES." Ruell took this invitation seriously, immediately shaving off his beard to fully transform into the aspiring cage-fighter, much to his kids' dismay. His commitment extends to even changing up his office set-up, adding a DSLR camera and mic to his desk.

As for the realistic grainy footage? We have Hess to thank for that. Ruell sent his "Kip Tips" footage to the director, who applied a filter to make the short clips appear like they came straight out of a 1980s time capsule. We'd be "TO'd" if they didn't.

Aaron Ruell wasn't supposed to be an actor

Ruell took on the character of Kip so effortlessly, it may come as a shock that he was never supposed to be an actor. In a 2019 interview with ABC News, Ruell revealed that while "Napoleon Dynamite" was being shot, he was studying film and photography at Brigham Young University. "We were just outta school and [Heder] said to me, 'So Aaron, what are you gonna do if this movie makes it? Are you going to change paths and become an actor?" 

Lucky for us, Ruell did incorporate more acting into his path than he intended, spending the early aughts taking on roles in "The Problem with Percival," "Think Tank," and "On the Road with Judas" (via IMDb). But for the most part, Ruell stuck with his plan of being on the other side of the camera, directing commercials with a goal of "attempting some type of sincerity." 

Ruell has directed commercials for companies like Target, Mastercard, Volkswagen, and Coca-Cola (via Muse by Clio) and currently works for Sanctuary Content. In addition to directing, Ruell is also an accomplished photographer (via, shooting ads for Old Spice, LG, Quaker Oats, T-Mobile, and Citibank (to name a few.) That's the way to make some "sweet moolah!"