Rodriguez, Robert and Trejo, Danny (Machete)
Some fans argue that a lot of the more entertaining parts of the Robert Rodriguez/Quentin Tarantino Grindhouse double feature released in 2007 came out of the faux trailers created by several of the genre’s most beloved directors (keep in mind, this was about four months before Rob Zombie’s Halloween came out so yes, even Zombie was still beloved).
And while I loved Eli Roth’s crazy Thanksgiving carnage and Edgar Wright’s hilariously repetitive Don’t, for this writer the fake movie I badly wanted to see become an actuality was Rodriguez’s Machete (I proudly display my fake Machete poster from 2007 in my bathroom to this day), starring one of Hollywood’s hardest working actors out there, Danny Trejo.
Now that Machete on the big screen is about to become a reality for fans, Dread Central recently caught up with both Rodriguez and Trejo during the Machete press conference, where the duo spoke about their collaborations together since Trejo first appeared in Desperado back in 1995 and why the timing is right for a hero like Machete to take on the political corruption on both sides of the Border.
Most fans would assume that Machete came about due to the 2007 trailer. And while that was a large part of the equation of getting the project made, the idea for Machete is something Rodriguez has been kicking around in his endlessly imaginative head ever since Antonio Banderas was busy saving Salma Hayek’s Carolina and hunting down his murderous brother Bucho in the sexy thriller Desperado.
“Robert has been training me for this movie since we did Desperado,” explained Trejo. “He’s been telling me about the character of Machete since way back then, and everything we’ve done together has been leading up to this movie. I call it 'Training by Rodriguez'. Through osmosis it’s like he’s been making me into this character, and now I finally get to be Machete. In fact, each movie of Robert’s I am in, I am named after some type of sharp object.”
Trejo has built a long-running career of being a solid ensemble performer, but Machete marks the first time the actor has had an entire production resting squarely on his shoulders. For him, though, all that pressure comes with some perks.
“I am used to showing up on set, doing what I need to do and then I leave,” explained Trejo. “For Machete I was on set almost every single day, and since I’ve never been the lead, I just did anything I could to help keep the movie production moving forward. It was tough, but now being the lead meant that I got to kiss Jessica Alba and a lot of other ladies so that was fine with me.”
Casting Trejo as the lead is only part of what makes Machete pure exploitative heaven. Rodriguez, who's been known to pull together some eclectic casts including Planet Terror and Sin City, trumped himself with his latest project. Machete features performances from Hollywood heavyweights (Robert De Niro, Jessica Alba, and Michelle Rodriguez) and folks who haven’t been seen on a big screen for some time (Steven Seagal, Jeff Fahey, and Don Johnson).
Rodriguez said, “For Machete the cast needed to be eclectic to do the story justice. When you first see all the names, you have to wonder how on earth all these people can actually work together in one movie. But then you actually see the film and you see just how everyone was perfectly cast and it wasn’t just names for the sake of names.”
“Danny attracted a lot of the talent himself actually. He’s been in over 200 movies and he’s worked with almost everyone in Machete already so a lot of people were happy to be a part of the film, just to support Danny in his leading role. As a director I really like giving people a chance to play a role they wouldn’t usually play, and that’s half of what makes Machete so much fun to watch,” Rodriguez added.
The other half of what makes Machete a treat for fans is the over-the-top action and violence. Rodriguez said, “Even though we touch on important issues, we still wanted to make this an insane and over-the-top movie for fans so they still have fun with it. Most of the reason we ended up making this movie is because of the fans and they helped feed the desire to get it made. Most people would ask me about when I was going to make Machete before they’d ask me about anything else, like Sin City 2. So we had to make sure we deliver for the fans.”
In Machete Trejo’s lead character is an ex-Mexican federale who’s framed for an assassination attempt on a US Senator (Robert DeNiro) that’s part of a larger conspiracy involving the US and Mexican governments’ approach to handling the immigration problems between the two countries. Rodriguez discussed about why the timing for a hero like Machete is perfect and how the immigration issue that currently plagues our society is the perfect issue to tackle in a gritty film like this.
“Whenever you do an exploitation film, you want to have an issue to explore and it just so happens to be immigration in Machete,” explained Rodriguez. “The old time exploitation flicks would take hot-button issues and approach them in a much different manner than the studios would because they could move quickly and make those movies a lot faster so they always had an avant-garde feel to them. I wanted to capture that spirit in Machete.”
“Recently immigration has really become a huge issue here in America, and so I wanted to make something that really looked into the corruption that exists in the system beyond what you see on the news. People always want to debate immigration but they never want to talk about the corruption that exists between the US and Mexico governments when dealing with the issue. That’s why filmmakers create these kinds of super-heroes, like Rambo or even Machete. We need to create these kinds of people to solve the problems that just can’t be solved in reality,” Rodriguez added.
Even though Machete packs a lot of action, violence and hot women into its 90+ minutes of running time, fans can expect a lot of gory insanity from the scenes that didn’t make it into the theatrical cut.
“There is a lot actually that didn’t make it into the movie so the bonus scenes on the home release of Machete will be crazy,” explained Rodriguez. “When you have actors like this, you just keep writing and expanding their roles and unfortunately, a lot of it had to get cut out of the movie for now or I would have had to release a two hour movie. But you’ll even see characters in the deleted scenes you didn’t see in the movie and there are even a few people that didn’t die in the theatrical version that actually do die in the director’s cut. There’s a lot to look forward to, I promise.”
And of course, Rodriguez and Trejo are hoping for more Machete mayhem with the film teasing two sequels titled Machete Kills and Machete Kills Again. Both the director and actor were mum on their future plans for the potential exploitative franchise but promise that if this first film does well, plan to see more Machete carnage in the next few years.
“I guess since we laid the groundwork for sequels, we’re going to have to do it now. But if anyone deserves a sequel, it's Machete,” said Rodriguez.
Look for it in theatres September 3rd, 2010.
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