Interview with Robert Rodriguez

Question: How would you describe the relationship between the two films "Desperado" and "El Mariachi"?

Robert Rodriguez: "El Mariachi" was a movie that I originally conceived to be a part of three pictures. I was going to make three movies about the Mariachi, which is why the first one ended the way it did - kind of open-ended with him changing as far as a person, he was no longer going to be able to play the guitar and he was going to go on to be almost like an action hero.

The first movie was supposed to be the genesis of the character, to kind of show how he became the man with the guitar case full of guns. The second one is more of a continuation. Kind of, not a direct, sequel - but it's the same character on a different adventure and kind of a different life. Also a different character because now he has the gun and he's looking for revenge. So it's a relationship almost similar to what "A Few Dollars More" was to "A Fist Full Of Dollars", you know it was the same character, but just on a different adventure.

Q: What do you want people to see in the character that Antonio Banderes portrays?

RR: It's a beautiful character. What I really love about him is he's not like an ex-cop or something turned vigilante. He's someone - I've done a couple of pictures like this already, a series of movies about the artist as hero - where he's an artist who can no longer express himself creatively. So what happens is that he bottles up all his emotions and ultimately explodes. That's kind of what I want people to see.

Q: You've obviously been influenced by Sergio Leone.

RR: Yeah, Sergio Leone movies were so larger than life and so big and so stylized - and they seemed to be so fun to make - that I wanted to try that and try it with Latin actors and Latin characters, which I hadn't ever seen growing up; I wanted to see that in an action film. And I had a feeling that if I didn't make it no one else would. So I went ahead and took the responsibility on to try and cast and use a crew of Latin talent to make a very universal picture - one that anyone can watch and enjoy but that for those who feel like they've been neglected in Hollywood, it's something exciting for us to see ourselves up on the screen.

Q: I want to ask you something about your creative process. What were your inspirations for crafting "Desperado"?

RR: I tried to write very quickly. Because, one, I'm not a writer, not a very good writer - so I thought if I was to get it done I'd have to get it done in one spurt, when you very involved and very imbedded in the picture and not break away from it too much. Because I find that if you take too many breaks you end up never getting back in any kind of groove.

So I thought about the movie for a while, put on a lot of different kinds of music that I didn't really hear...I kind of felt, more than anything else. And I would just sit in a room and just bang it out all night and all day until my brain was fried. You stop thinking after a while and then your creativity takes's almost subliminal or something.

It's very strange. The creative process is very difficult to explain.

It's something that you just do without any real instruction or schooling.

It's something that's more instinctual. It's just fun to close your eyes write it and when you open your eyes you have something done on your desk a couple of weeks later. So it's a very involved process. You have to become almost obsessed in order to get it done.

Q: Quentin Tarantino appears in this film and also wrote and executive produced "From Dusk 'Til Dawn", your next film. Can you tell me a little bit about your relationship?

RR: Oh, it's just one of those...that's what's cool about going to film festivals - is that all the time growing up I was making little movies or drawings and I didn't know anyone else who was doing the same thing and you want so desperately to meet somebody else who does the same thing as you. Because you're such a small percentage of the regular population, you feel like such an oddball, an outcast because you do strange things.

Then when you go to film festivals you meet all the other odd balls - it's like a convention of odd balls. So I hooked up with Quentin - we both had similar interests and we became friends. Started working together almost accidentally. I cast him in "Desperado". We made "Four Rooms" and then while we were making "Four Rooms", one of his first scripts that he'd ever sold "Dust 'Til Dawn" came back around to be made and so we decided to produce it together - he would star in it, rewrite it and I would direct it and edit it.

Q: How was it to kill Quentin Tarantino in your film?

RR: I think he enjoyed it - and I just thought audiences would like to see him get a taste of his own medicine. It was a fun send up to the stuff he had done and he went out like a true champ, talking all the way.

Q: I understand you are attached to direct "Zorro" with Antonio Banderes, can you tell us a little about your vision for that classic ?

RR: There's been talks about a "Zorro", we haven't settled it yet. Steven Spielberg's company has been in contact with Antonio and myself to do it -

Antonio really wants to do it. That gets me thinking it. Anything Antonio wants to do that desperately you should be around for 'cause it will be easy to make; he'll become Zorro, I won't have to hire an actor to be Zorro - he'll be Zorro so I'll just be making a documentary. I'll just be documenting the real Zorro story, that's all it would be.

Q: I understand you are expecting your first child shortly after "Desperado" opens, do you know whether it's going to be a boy or a girl?

RR: A boy.

Q: Tell the world - what's his name?

RR: Rocket Valentino. Only because he's going to be a strange kid. He's gonna be traveling all the time - he'll never have the same friend for more than a year. I want him to know he can be anything he wants. He can go straight to the moon if so be it. Or he can be a rocket scientist.

Q: How will becoming a father influence your filmmaking?

RR: Oh, I'm just starting up the team. I've always wanted a big family because I wanted to have my own cast and crew and so I'll put him to work from the day he's born. I'm gonna be audiotaping all of his crying and screams onto my little DAT recorder and feeding it into the computer and then distorting them and morphing them for monster screams and monster yells for the movie "Dusk 'Til Dawn" - so he'll be the monster sound effects.

He'll get a credit. He'll know as he's growing up that he had a strong work ethic as a child cause he was working the first year he was in the world.

Q: Do you surf the net? And if so, what are some of your favorite sites?

RR: I don't surf the net. I've been using the computer right now for transporting materials from stage to my editing room - we're doing a lot of computer work on "Dusk Til Dawn", a lot of the effects. And sometimes I have to see effects right away while I'm shooting and they send it by email. But I can't wait to hook up because what I'd like to do is to be able to get in post and talk to people while I'm editing "Dusk Til Dawn" and put clips and things I'm working on and put scenes so people can check out what's going on and see the editing process.

Q: How do you see the internet impacting the entertainment industry?

RR: You know what it is, it's something that's just not defined yet. So it feels like...I can only imagine what filmmakers felt like when film was first invented. It was so open for experimentation. It hadn't been defined yet. They were defining it as they went and pulling out all the possibilities. That was an exciting place to be. If you read old film books you see how excited people were. They knew they were on to something but they didn't know quite what it was yet and now that film's been almost fully explored it's time for a new medium and it's exciting that it hasn't been defined enough yet for people to really know its full potential which is much grander than what we're thinking now. So to be in on that from the ground floor is just a real privilege.

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