Exclusive: Robert Rodriguez and Danny Trejo Talk Machete Kills
From Desperado to the Spy Kids franchise and beyond, Robert Rodriguez and Danny Trejo have largely become household names due mostly to the work they’ve done together.
With the sequel to Machete about to hit theaters, Machete Kills expands on their body of work and might remind audiences just why they fell in love with the indie spirit of Rodriguez and the stoic badassery of Trejo in the first place. Shortly before the premiere of Machete Kills at this year’s Fantastic Fest down in Austin, TX, Rodriguez and Trejo sat down with Dread Central for a few minutes before they were rushed out to meet the fans on the red carpet.
Read our Machete Kills review!
DC: So, I actually remember being on the set of Predators at Troublemaker a few years ago. Danny, I didn’t get to interview you; I got to interview everybody else. And I remember you were editing Machete at the time and you wouldn’t tell me a thing about it, Robert. I was wondering if you had plans all along to do three films?
Robert Rodriguez: I didn’t have plans. It wasn’t until we were actually mixing the movie. In the final mix, I’m there on the mix stage and I’m a few days from finishing the movie. And he’s riding off at the end with the girl and the credits roll, and I thought, ‘Man, it really feels like it needs another punch!’ So let’s do a couple title cards. Not just ‘Machete will return!’ but Machete Kills and Machete Kills Again. And everyone would think that obviously they’re not going to make those but it’s funny to imagine - Machete just going on and on. But that caught people’s imagination and people would ask me at Comic-Con if I was going to do another one … another two. I said, ‘Well, I’ve been kicking around this idea and this image of Machete in space’ so it was going to be Machete Kills and Machete Kills Again… In Space and people erupted and applauded. They were really excited about the space one. So I thought, ‘God, I’m excited about that, too. We might have to do, like, a hybrid double feature of some sort.’ And we started talking about doing another one.
DC: Now, were you guys both a fan of the old luchador horror movies starring El Santo and all of that stuff?
Danny Trejo: Oh, of course, man.
DC: I’m honestly not that familiar with them, but you guys did grow up with them?
RR: Yeah, we wanted to have some kind of homage to that.
DC: I’m always curious how long the shoot is at Troublemaker.
RR: Fast. Do you know how long a film shoots? About how long they are? Like an action movie?
DC: Probably a few months, something like that.
RR: Usually, an action movie’s about 60 to 100 days. Like Django Unchained was like 160 days. When you have a lot of actors, it usually takes longer. This was 29 days that we shot. It’s the fastest I’ve shot since El Mariachi. It’s even ten days shorter than the first Machete. But just to get that kind of scope and scale, we had to just shoot faster and longer to have the budget to make more sets and hire more actors and make it feel… we went really big with it.
DC: Have you ever thought about doing a documentary about Troublemaker and the whole process? A kind of filmmaker’s camp about it?
RR: People have always kind of offered to document people making this movie and I’m always like, ‘Man, I’m going to be so crazy, I’m not going to have any time to devote to it.’ So we never really did it. But I have a television network now, so that would be a whole other show. Like a reality show just showing the work we do at that studio because it’s really fun. A lot of times you’re pulling in the crew and making them act in the movie. A lot of cool stuff happens on a day to day basis.
DC: Danny, would you mind having other cameras following you around like that when you’re already having to go on set and get cameras shoved in your face? Would you be on a reality show?
DT: Hey, it don’t matter to me. (laughs)
RR: Hey, there are cameras following him around already!
DT: You know, I’ll do whatever we decide on. It’s my job and I love my job. I love working. I can’t stand not working. It just kind of drives me crazy and then I drive everybody else crazy. So my agent and everybody just say, ‘Keep him working!’
DC: Oh, it’s insane. I’m shocked by the amount of work that you do. But I think, when it comes down to it, the work that you’ve done with Robert is the stuff that you’re going to be remembered for and this role, especially being the title role.
DT: Machete has washed out everything else I’ve done. Certain people say, ‘I loved you in Con-Air’ or ‘I loved you in Heat.’ But, in the end, 90 percent of people are, ‘Man, Machete’ is the shit. They drive by my house and honk the horn, ‘Machete!’ And my Mom was calling me once and called me that. That’s my name.
DC: And if "Machete" is on your tombstone, you’re okay with that?
DT: Oh, that would be kinda cool.
RR: Here lies Machete, but Machete don’t lie. (laughs)
DT: (laughing) Oh, that was great.