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Sin City - Robert Rodriguez interview



Compiled by: Jack Foley

Q. You notoriously elected to leave Directors' Guild of America (DGA) in order to film Sin City the way you wanted. How difficult a decision was that? Did it take long?
Rodriguez:
It was a pretty quick decision.
Miller: I was there man, it was instantaneous.
Rodriguez: You’re in Texas, in your train and the train going really fast down the track. We were really excited to make the movie, everyone could feel it, and then suddenly some guys from LA were waving their hands in front of the train saying ‘stop!’. I just looked at Frank and we put our foot no the gas.
Miller: We heard this horrible crunch but we don’t care!
Rodriguez: That was a surprise, I didn’t know it was against the rule to have two directors. I thought I’d seen two directors on other movies but they had a rule and their argument was that I was established and Frank wasn’t. But I told them he directed better than most directors in Hollywood. If you look at his books he was already a great filmmaker, he was just using a paper instead of a camera.
My argument was that I thought visual storytelling was the same whether it was on the page or the screen. That’s what I wanted to prove, by just translating it directly to the screen. I thought that what he was doing in the books was so much bolder than anything we were doing in cinema. I wanted to make that happen on screen.
So rather than go through a long process of them trying to change their rules it felt easier for me to leave at that time. It wasn’t a real big deal.

Q. Did that make it easier to attract the attention of a young director named Tarantino to direct the scene in the car between Clive Owen and Benicio Del Toro?
Rodriguez:
You mean this kid who’s been following me around for a number of years? I told him last year, it took him a while to make Kill Bill which he thought was going to be a very fast shoot but I told him if he’d shot it on digital it would have been much faster.
So I said the next time I was shooting something on digital he should come and direct a sequence so he can see what it’s like to work with actors in that way. And to see what the technology was about because I felt he would really enjoy it. And he did, he got to see how it was more about performance and not a technical exercise, it was actually the reverse of what you would normally think making a green screen movie would be about.
We shot the scene with Clive and Benicio in the rain, on the road in a car – and there was no rain, no road and no car. He got to see how all that stuff went away and he could concentrate on getting a great performance from the actors. He said I was right, that if this had been a regular movie we would have spent all day rigging the car, dragging it down the road, ruining the sound with water and then it would have been ‘hurry, hurry now to get the performance in’. Instead the performance gets reversed.

Q. What are the implications, though, of resigning from the DGA?
A.
You won’t get nominated for a directing Oscar, and you don’t get residuals or insurance. Other than that you’re free to go and do the movies you want, so that’s nice. That’s why I can make up my own directing title like ‘Special Guest Director’. According to the Rules of Rodriguez that means you have to direct for at least one day, one sequence, for a dollar.
Frank Miller: You’ve also got to credit Robert with having the single most violent credit in movie history which is ‘shot and cut by Robert Rodriguez’. Wow.

Q. How easy was it dividing up the directing chores?
Miller:
We both jumped all over each other and drove each other crazy. At the beginning we had discussed breaking up the three stories between us. I said I’d kind of like to do Big Fat Kill because it’s such an absurd romp. And as we started working and preparing, Robert said ‘you’re going to be here every day, right?’ and I said ‘sure’.
So he said we should tag team the whole job. And it’s funny as he was editing the movie and I came to kibitz, we were going through it and we couldn’t remember who had suggested what shot. It was such a brotherhood between us as we were making the movie. It was impossible to separate us on this job.

Q. Would you work together again?
Rodriguez:
It’s very easy, we’re the same guy.

Q. Is it true that you're going to do two Sin City sequels back to back?
A.
It’s cos we’re lazy, there’s actually seven books. We’ve gone the easy route, bowing out after a couple. I know we’re going to do the second one for sure, that’s based on A Dame To Kill For which is a book that takes place before these other stories.
So that means Marv would be back, Goldie and Wendy, the twin sisters would be alive together, a lot of the characters show up again, so that would probably be the most interesting one to help complete this story further.
There are some other ones of his [Miller] that I like, we’ll have to see what we can fit in there. It would probably be wiser to shoot the material for a third while we’re doing the second.
Frank Miller: Let’s do the lot!

Q. What gave you the idea to cast sweet-faced Elijah Wood as a cannibalistic killer?
A.
I worked with him on The Faculty and he has these piercing blue eyes that women love that I always found quite creepy. I told him then that one day I would cast him as a psychopath, never thinking that would actually come about.
Frank Miller: And I really wanted to see Frodo eat people.
Rodriguez: How can you go wrong with that? He’s a great guy, I showed him the early test, he was one of the first people to see it, and he said ‘I’d kill to be in that movie!’. I thought ‘Kill? Eat? Frodo eating people? Yeah’. He was in.
I sent Frank a videotape of him with me reading Mickey’s lines. Elijah was sitting there as he’s getting eaten [and he’s deadpan], he’s just watching him say nothing. He got creeped out by it, so he said ‘okay, we can hire him’.

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