Robert Anthony Rodríguez (born June 20, 1968) is an American film director, screenwriter, producer, cinematographer, editor and musician. He shoots and produces many of his films in his native Texas and Mexico. He has directed such films as Desperado, From Dusk till Dawn, The Faculty, Spy Kids, Sin City, Planet Terror, and Machete. He is a friend and frequent collaborator of filmmaker Quentin Tarantino.
This short film attracted enough attention to encourage him to seriously attempt a career as a filmmaker. He went on to shoot the action flick El Mariachi in Spanish. El Mariachi, which was shot for around $7,000 with money raised by his friend Carlos Gallardo and participating in medical research studies, won the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival in 1993. The film, originally intended for the Spanish-language low-budget home-video market, was “cleaned up” with several hundred thousand dollars before being distributed by Columbia Pictures in the United States, still being promoted as “the movie made for $7,000”. Rodríguez described his experiences making the film in his book Rebel Without a Crew. The book and film inspired legions of hopeful filmmakers to pick up cameras and make no-budget movies. The film and the book are widely considered important touchstones of the independent film movement of the 1990s.
His next feature film was Desperado, a sequel to El Mariachi starring Antonio Banderas. The film introduced Salma Hayek to American audiences. Rodríguez went on to collaborate with Quentin Tarantino on the vampire thriller, From Dusk till Dawn (he co-produced two sequels), and with Kevin Williamson on the horror film The Faculty.
In 2001, Rodríguez enjoyed his first $100,000,000 (USD) Hollywood hit with Spy Kids, which went on to become a movie franchise, with the third film released in a crude form of 3D. A third “mariachi” film also appeared in late 2003, Once Upon a Time in Mexico which completed the Mariachi Trilogy. He operates a production company called Troublemaker Studios, formerly Los Hooligans Productions.
Rodríguez co-directed Sin City (2005), an adaptation of the Frank Miller Sin City comic books; Quentin Tarantino guest-directed a scene. During production in 2004, Rodríguez insisted that Miller direct the film with him because he considered the visual style of Miller’s comic art to be just as important as his own in the film. However, the Directors Guild of America would not allow it, citing that only “legitimate teams” could share the director’s credit (e.g. the Wachowski Brothers). Rodríguez chose to resign from the DGA, stating, “It was easier for me to quietly resign before shooting because otherwise I’d be forced to make compromises I was unwilling to make or set a precedent that might hurt the guild later on.” By resigning from the DGA, Rodríguez was forced to relinquish his director’s seat on the film John Carter of Mars (in development) for Paramount Pictures. Rodríguez had already signed on and had been announced as director of that film, planning to begin filming soon after completing Sin City.
Sin City was a critical hit in 2005 as well as a box office success, particularly for a hyperviolent comic book adaptation that did not have name recognition comparable to the X-Men or Spider-Man. He has stated that he is interested in eventually adapting all of Miller’s Sin City comic books.
Rodríguez released The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl in 2005, a superhero-kid movie intended for the same younger audiences as his Spy Kids series. Shark Boy & Lava Girl was based on a story conceived by Rodríguez’s 7 year-old son, Racer, who was given credit for the screenplay. The film was not a major success, having grossed 39 million dollars at the box office.
Since 1998, he has owned the film rights to Mike Allred’s off-beat comic Madman. The two have hinted at the project being close to beginning on several occasions without anything coming of it. However, other projects have been completed first (Allred was instrumental in connecting Rodríguez with Frank Miller, leading to the production of Sin City). In 2004, Allred, while promoting his comic book, The Golden Plates, announced that a screenplay by George Huang was near completion. In March 2006, it was announced that production on Sin City 2 would be postponed. Allred announced at the 2006 WonderCon that production would likely commence on Madman the Movie in 2006. Huang is actually friends with Rodriguez, who advised him to pursue filmmaking as a career when Rodriguez landed a deal with Columbia Pictures where Huang was an employee.
Rodriguez wrote and directed the film Planet Terror for the collaboration with Quentin Tarantino in their double feature Grindhouse (released in 2007). This film was a throwback to the Grindhouse exploitative cinema of the past.
He also has a series of “Ten Minute Film School” segments on several of his DVD releases, showing aspiring filmmakers how to make good, profitable movies using inexpensive tactics. Starting with the Once Upon a Time in Mexico DVD, Rodríguez began creating a series called, “Ten Minute Cooking School” where he revealed his recipe for “Puerco Pibil” (based on Cochinita pibil, an old dish from Yucatán), the same food Johnny Depp’s character, “Agent Sands” ate in the film. The popularity of this series led to the inclusion of another “Cooking School” on the two-disc version of the “Sin City” DVD where Rodríguez teaches the viewer how to make “Sin City Breakfast Tacos,” a dish (made for his cast and crew during late-night shoots) utilizing his grandmother’s tortilla recipe and different egg mixes for the filling. He had initially planned to release a third “Cooking School” with the October 16 DVD release of “Planet Terror” but then announced on the “Film School” segment of the DVD that he would put it on the upcoming Grindhouse Theatrical DVD set instead. The Cooking School, titled “Texas Barbecue…from the GRAVE!,” is a dish based on the “secret barbecue recipe” of “JT Hague,” Jeff Fahey’s character in the film.
A strong supporter of digital film making, Rodríguez was introduced to this by director George Lucas, who personally invited Rodríguez to use the digital cameras at Lucas’ headquarters.
First Published: Feb 5, 2012 – Last Updated: Jan 27, 2013