Robert Rodriguez was born in San Antonio, TX, on July 20, 1968. When he was in the 8th grade he saw John Carpenter's Escape From New York, and immediately knew he wanted to be a filmmaker. He made short films all through high school, using his 10 siblings as actors. He got into the University of Texas, Austin on an academic scholarship, and there he continued making short films as well as comic strips (his comic Los Hooligans ran for three years in the university newspaper). His first application to film school was rejected due to poor academic standings, but his ticket in was his 1990 short Austin Stories, which once again starred his siblings. Once he got into film school he wasted no time, making his first 16mm short, the award-winning Bedhead, in 1991.

In 1992 Rodriguez decided to make a full-length feature for the Spanish video market to practice for Hollywood. For $7000 (most of which he raised by taking part in experimental drug tests) he shot El Mariachi together with his best friend Carlos Gallardo (who starred in the film). Rodriguez did everything in El Mariachi except act; he directed, wrote the script, edited, did the sound, the special effects, etc. The film went on to become a huge success, winning the Audience Awards at Sundance Film Festival and Deauville Film Festival, as well as a host of other awards. It is undoubtedly one of the most profitable films ever made.

El Mariachi landed Rodriguez his Hollywood break: a deal with Columbia Pictures to make a sequel to El Mariachi. Desperado, starring Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek, was released in 1995 and was quite well received. Next up was Four Rooms, a collaborative effort of four different directors. The idea was good but not the execution, and the film was a failure. In 1996 Rodriguez once again worked with Quentin Tarantino (who played in Desperado and did one of the segments in Four Rooms) when he directed his vampire script From Dusk Till Dawn. Tarantino also starred in the film, along with George Clooney, Salma Hayek and Juliette Lewis. The film was very entertaining, with a lot of action, violence, blood, and gore. In 1998 Rodriguez released another horror flick, The Faculty, an OK teen film written by Kevin Williamson (of Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer fame).

Rodriguez' next project, however, was a 180° turn from his previous work: Spy Kids, a children's film about siblings who must rescue their spy parents, was a surprise hit in 2001. The sequel, Spy Kids 2: The Island Of Lost Dreams, is already finished and is due to be released later this year. Rodriguez is currently working on another sequel, Desperado II: Once Upon a Time in Mexico, which brings back Banderas and Hayek and also stars Johnny Depp. It is slated for release in 2003.

In addition to the movies mentioned above, Rodriguez has worked on several other films doing different jobs, such as acting and being an assistant director.


Picking up where TehBear left off, Robert Rodriguez released the sequel to Desperado, shortened to Once Upon a Time in Mexico, in 2003, with modest success. During that time he also wrote and directed a second sequel to Spy Kids and composed the score for close friend and frequent collaborator Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill 2, for the fee of one dollar. Tarantino later returned the favor (for the same fee) by directing a scene in Rodriguez’s most ambitious film project to date, an adaptation of Frank Miller’s popular graphic novel series Sin City, released in 2005.

Upon hearing that Miller was so frustrated over an earlier unsuccessful attempt to option the rights to the series that he swore it would never be filmed, Rodriguez took the liberty of filming a segment from one of the books, entitled ‘The Customer is Always Right,’ and sent it to Miller as an example of his vision for an adaptation. Miller not only quickly agreed to allow Rodriguez the rights to the stories, he also co-directed the film, assisting him in the creation of shots that were not just adaptations but actual direct recreations of panels from the novels. Rodriguez was eventually forced to resign from the Director’s Guild after insisting that Miller be given co-director credit. He also sent the segment to actors he wished to cast, including Bruce Willis, Elijah Wood, and Benicio Del Toro, all of whom signed on immediately after viewing it (it was eventually added as the opening scene to Sin City later). The film, which used state-of-the-art green screen technology, was applauded by critics for its stunning photography and visionary effects, and was a hit with audiences, both those familiar with the novels and those who weren’t.

Though Rodriguez is mostly lauded for his unconventional filmmaking style (he refuses to work in Hollywood, doing most of the technical work in a studio across the street from his home in Texas), he does have his detractors. In his book The Unkindest Cut, humorist/pop culture commentator Joe Queenan declared that it was impossible to make a film of El Mariachi’s quality on only a $7,000 budget, and set out to prove it by making his own film on the same budget, failing miserably in the process. Nevertheless, Rodriguez still stands by his original statement, and remains a favorite of independent film fans everywhere.

Rodriguez’s producer, Elizabeth Avellan, also doubles as his wife. The couple has been married since 1990 and has three children.


Robert Rodriguez is best known for three things, his El Marachi series, his Spy Kids series and his close friendship with Quentin Tarantino. Yet Rodriguez's work and talent spans far and wide from his seven actual "written and directed by" films. He has been a part of some of the most fascinating collaborations in Hollywood, he works on multiple aspects of his and other director’s films, he is a musician, a chef and yet still finds a way to be a family man.

Most of Rodriguez’s collaborations have been with his longtime friend and one of the greatest filmmakers working today, Quentin Tarantino. The first collaboration between the two was actually in Tarantino's 1994 breakout smash Pulp Fiction. While Rodriguez is uncredited, he served as director for many of the scenes in which Tarantino was in front of the camera performing. The very next year, Rodriguez's first modestly budgeted film Desperado was released, in which Tarantino played a character only known as Pick-up Guy. Their first actual directorial collaboration came that same year with Four Rooms, which had segments directed by Allison Anders (Gas, Food Lodging), Alexandre Rockwell (In The Soup) and Quentin and Robert.

Perhaps their finest collaboration (and the most hands-on from them both) came with the 1996 splatterfest classic From Dusk Till Dawn, which featured Quentin as writer and actor and Robert as director. They served as co-executive producers for the film's two direct-to-video sequels.

Smaller collaborations have continued between the two since that film. Tarantino helped think of the title of Rodriguez's 2003 film Once Upon a Time in Mexico and Tarantino thanked Rodriguez in the Kill Bill: Volume 1 credits, calling him "My Brother." In 2004, Tarantino asked Robert Rodriguez to do the musical score of Kill Bill: Volume 2 for a dollar, in return, Tarantino was paid a dollar to direct a scene involving Clive Owen and Benicio Del Toro in the Robert Rodriquez cinematic translation of Frank Miller's Sin City comics. The footage that Tarantino shot in the film marks the first time he has ever shot on HD. He also loaned Rodriguez some swords from Kill Bill to use for the character of Miho. Not to mention that Sin City and its upcoming sequels marks an unprecedented collaboration between a comic artist and a filmmaker, as Frank Miller was on the set of the film everyday and receives a co-director credit. Rodriguez and Tarantino are planning to release a film in spring ’06 titled Grind House, in which both filmmakers will write and direct a 60-minute horror film that will be cut together as a two hour cinema experience.

Rodriguez also has collaborated with once red hot Hollywood writer Kevin Williamson (who wrote all three Scream films and a bulk of the Dawson's Creek TV series) on two separate occasions. The first was in 1997 when he directed the movie-within-a-movie “Stab” sequence in Scream 2. The second collaboration saw him directing the 1998 teen horror film The Faculty, which had a script written by Williamson.

Rodriguez has also had some fascinating experiences in the business that aren’t exactly collaborations, but are fascinating regardless. Kevin Smith called upon Rodriguez to direct scripts he had written twice in his career. The first was when Smith wanted Rodriguez to direct his 1999 film Dogma, yet Rodriguez declined, citing that it seemed like a personal project Kevin should take on his own. He also turned down the offer to direct Smith’s script Superman Lives, the now-dead project that has been replaced by Superman Returns. Rodriguez also had a fascinating encounter with George Lucas. Rodriguez was doing post-production work on Skywalker Ranch for the first film in his Spy Kids trilogy when Lucas introduced him to hi-def digital filmmaking. Every film he’s made since then has been shot on digital.

Rodriguez is known for his multi-talented work on his films, he frequently not only writes and directs, but operates the camera, edits, composes the music, mixes the sound and supervises the special effects for his films. In addition to these talents, he also plays guitar in a Mexican rock band titled Chingon (Spanish for “bad ass”) that recently released their first album Azteca de Oro and had their song “Malaguena Salerosa” play over the credits for Tarantino’s Kill Bill: Vol. 2. He also directed, shot and edited Del Castillo Live, a concert film for a Mexican band that shares many members with Chingon. He is also an accomplished chef, having put a feature on the Once Upon a Time in Mexico DVD in which he taught viewers how to cook a Mexican dish called puerco pibil, which Johnny Depp’s character enjoyed in the film.

Other less notable collaborations by Rodriguez include serving as the second unit director for the 1997 film Mimic and supervising the post-production for the made-for-Showtime film The Outsider. Like Tarantino, he’s also shown some acting chops in small independent productions Famous, Bullfighter and Delayed as well as making an appearance as a SWAT Officer on an episode of the ill-fated NBC drama Deadline and appearing as a commercial director on an episode of Nash Bridges.

As for actors, some of his most frequently used performers have been Antonio Banderas, Steve Buscemi, Salma Hayek, Cheech Marin, Carla Gugino and Robert Patrick. Also his cousin Danny Trejo has become something of a cult icon after having frequently appeared as various muscular men with black tattoos in his films.

And while the multi-talented, frequently-collaborating Robert Rodriguez is absolutely in love with the filmmaking process, his real investment in life is in his children: Rocket Valentin, Racer Maximilliano, Rebel Antonio. All of whom he had with his wife of 15 years, and frequent producer, Elizabeth Avellan. He has written and illustrated books that he reads to his children that he does not intend to use for any commercial purposes. His children were also a great motivation behind him devoting time to his kid-friendly Spy Kids trilogy and he even went as far to film The Adventures of Shark Boy & Lava Girl in 3-D, which is based on a story conceived by his 7-year-old son Racer, who receives a story credit for the film.

He’s a filmmaker with full creative control over his films and has frequent collaborations with great talents. He’s a six-string wielding rock star. He’s a master chef. And perhaps most notably, he’s a family man who can still make movies involving dismembered limbs and four-letter words. Robert Rodriguez has quite a life.

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