Robert Rodríguez is the director of El Mariachi, Desperado and Planet Terror, a man who lives for his roots and now comes back to the big screen with the fourth Spy Kids. Rodríguez is an American from San Antonio, Texas, with a family heritage from Mexico. Loyal to his roots he always shows where he is from in all his movies. In his Troublemaker Studio in Austin we talked with this man who showed up with a cowboy hat, cowboy boots and delighted us with a typical tex-mex lunch with tortillas, ribs, corn and Apple cake.
P: (In Robert’s office there is a window that opens directly to the recording studio) It seems that you like to control everything ¿Are you proud of the success?
R: I don’t know if any other director has a studio in his house. I think that Peter Jackson in New Zealand and I are the only ones, because in the studios of Lucas and Coppola there is not sound center. When those two came here told me this was their dream
P: As a director seems that you want to show the Spanish culture in all your movies
R: I’m Mexican-American, a fantastic thing to be because I’m part of two cultures. As a director I can travel between two worlds, in one hand I can do a movie very American as Desperado or to tell fantasy stories close to the Mexican culture. I’m going to keep making movies where I utilize at the same time both languages, as I did in “Once Upon a time in Mexico” and as I’m doing in my next science fiction movie that actually I’m shooting in Ciudad de Mexico. My idea is to show Mexico in a futuristic way
P: Did you change your process as a director having your own studio at home?
I always shoot in a gorilla style. Since I started with the Mariachi and put in all my money, seven thousand dollars. I’m in charge of everything from the special effects to the sound effects, to the editing and the script. For me there is nothing more rewarding than to develop my creative vision
P: Are you still out of the Hollywood Directors Guild?
R: I’m not in the Guild. I can’t be part of them because I’m not a director that you can put in a box. Look around in Hollywood here we are ready to shoot a movie in any given moment. When I start shooting a movie always there is somebody who comes to me and says “you are not doing the things are it should be done”. To me that is rude. The way they do the things there don’t have any sense that is why I left the Gild. I don’t follow the rules that is why I’m out
P: That way you will never win an Oscar
R: As long the big studios want to distribute my movies I don’t care. I just want to make a good movie for the audience. My movies are not Oscar movies. You can still work with unions. I’m in all the other unions because I’m the cinematographer and the editor. I have all these union cards. I’m not in the Writer’s Guild or the Director’s Guild because they don’t like hyphenates. They get mad at each other, all the time. There’s too much in-fighting. I live in Texas, so it doesn’t apply to me. I left the Writer’s Guild even longer ago, after Spy Kids. Rather than them having to change their rules for me, being such an oddball, I thought I should probably just go play in a different sandbox. If I did a big studio movie, I might have to join, or at least it would be under the rules that they have for personnel and credits, but I haven’t had to join.
P: Do you feel proud of being independent away from Hollywood?
R: It helped me to make my first movie all for myself. I paid for everything and I learned all the tricks to make a movie that it seems expensive but it isn’t. I like to have control of all the risks, because at the end is a business. Now I’m free and is a wonderful feeling I follow my own rules. I tell the stories that I want and I enjoy doing that
P: You’ve got this pattern of doing an adult movie and then a kid’s movie, I’m curious, when you’re on set, how does your approach change? Or it doesn’t?
R: It doesn’t sometimes, I get in big trouble, and I start cussing at the kids. “Wait a minute; I’m not around adults...” It’s a different sensibility. I compare it to if you have kids, you know, if you hang out with your buddies you talk one way, then when you’re hanging out with your kids you have a different voice on, you have your dad voice, you’re very appropriate. It’s two different; everybody has those sides to them.
P: there are a lot of Mexican-American families, they are a part of the American psyche, and you don’t feel like trying to push that too much?
R: It was always like that. In the Spy Kids series they were Spanish, they spoke Latin. For people who were Latin it was a cool thing, for people who weren’t it was just like, you know, James Bond is British. It gives them an ethnic specificity. It’s very specific and made it more universal because of how specific it was.