Robert Rodriguez may just be one of the most versatile directors in Hollywood. He’s able to serve up a complete gorefest like Sin City or Machete and then switch gears into family films like Spy Kids. His filmography hosts an assortment of respectable credits that come from a number of genres but for the most part, all turn out pretty well.
On August 19th Rodriguez will return to the beloved children’s series with Spy Kids: All The Time In The World. He’s assembled quite a cast as well, with actors/actresses like Jessica Alba, Jeremy Piven and Joel McHale.
The director is also looking to raise the bar, by releasing the film in 4D. Yes, that’s right, 4D! Whether the fourth dimension will actually add anything to the film is questionable but it’s bound to be a fun ride.
Check out the interview below and see what Robert Rodriguez had to say on casting Jessica Alba, raising the bar, the possibility of 5D, Machete 2 and more.
Question: How did you cast Jessica Alba?
Robert Rodriguez: We were making Machete and she was all dressed up for set and she kind of looked like a spy in her outfit. She also had the baby with her on set and I just thought wow, if she was a spy, and had to take the baby on missions because she didn’t have a babysitter, that would be really great. So I told her about the idea and she sounded interested. From there, we started talking about it and piecing it together. So it was during Machete that I came up with it.
Question: Ten years have passed since the first Spy Kids came out, what are some of the things you had to take into account to tell this story to a new generation of kids?
RR: I pretty much had to start again, especially for those who hadn’t seen the old ones. So we had a new family, who still had a connection to the old family for those who were fans, because you have to bridge the gap you know. It was fun though to figure out how much you do for the old fans and how much you do for the news ones. Coming up with new gadgets though, that was the hardest part, because I had done so many with the other movies. I felt like I had used up all the good stuff.
Question: During the first Spy Kids, did you envision that you’d be doing all these sequels?
RR: When I did the first one, I kind of broke off some of it for a sequel. My script was too big and I thought we could maybe get a second movie going. But I never expected a third or fourth, I never thought that far ahead.
Question: Was it challenging to raise the bar and to get something that was ever better than the third film?
RR: The whole way through we thought ‘how do we make this keep escalating like we did last time?’ And one of the things we did was put in an idea that I had for the first movie that I couldn’t implement due to time and budget constraints, and that was the talking robot dog. That was from the first script.
The Spy Kids films were also pretty innovative for their time. The first one broke new ground in family films because no one was really making family films at that time. The second one I was already shooting digital, which gave me the idea to try and bring 3D back by shooting with two digital cameras. There hadn’t been a 3D movie in 20 years. So for the fourth one, I knew we had to go 4D. Everything had to be more upped.
Question: Do you think kids are a good audience for things like 3D and 4D?
RR: Ya, and the interactivity is great for kids. It gives them something to do. It’s very interactive and fun. Spy Kids films have been so successful because they empower children. Children at that age really want to be empowered. Seeing other kids flying around and saving the world, that’s their dream. And anything that draws them closer to that experience, like being able to smell what the characters are smelling, makes them feel like they’re part of the movie.
Question: Would you do 5D?
RR: Of course! I have a 5D in mind. We have to go 5D! What are we going to do, go back down to 3D? [Laughs]
Question: How was it working with the kids?
RR: They were fantastic. They came in and it was pretty easy to pick, they really stood out from the rest of the kids. I even went back and re-wrote the script based on their personalities. The little boy became very smart in the script because he was more cerebral than physical so I gave him a gadget that would give him the physicality. Working with kids is great though, they just have such amazing enthusiasm on the set. It’s like it’s the best day of their life.
Question: Any word on Machete 2 or Sin City 2?
RR: Sin City 2 is going good, we’re just finishing the script for that, we already got the money. We have everything we need so we can just start shooting as soon as we get the pages. And it’s the same thing for Machete 2. We’ve already got the budget, just waiting for the script. As soon as we’re finished writing we get to start the shoot.
Question: How did you get Ricky Gervais?
RR: I called him up and told him about the role. I sent him a bit of the movie and he thought it was a terrific idea and jumped on board right away. I wanted the character to be a British James Bond type dog who is very sarcastic and Ricky said ‘oh, well I can do that.’
Question: You tend to take on more than just the directing job on your films. Is this just to keep costs low or do you just want creative control?
RR: It’s really about keeping costs low. I’d love to hire the best composers or cinematographer but we just don’t have the money. It’s also more fun that way because you have to be really creative. You don’t have a money hose to wash away your problems, you have to figure out how to solve things.
That concludes our interview but we’d like to thank Robert Rodriguez very much for talking with us. Be sure to check out Spy Kids: All The Time In The World, in theatres on August 19th. Stay tuned for our interviews with Joel McHale and Jessica Alba.