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Fantastic Fest scene: Machete Kills (SPOILERS)

Joe Gross
jgross@statesman.com

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD FOR “MACHETE KILLS”

When Fantastic Fest and Alamo Drafthouse founder Tim League took the stage at the Alamo Drafthouse Lakeline on a rare, rainy Thursday night, it felt like the official kickoff to the ninth edition of the little genre festival that could.

“This is a surreal night,” League said, in cowboy hat (thinking that Rodriguez would wear his). “If you had told me in 1997 that someday (Fantastic Fest) would hosting the world premier of a Robert Rodriguez movie, I would have said you were nuts.”

Rodriguez was equally effusive, noting that the movie was showing on the night usually given over to the big Hollywood premier. “Tonight, it is the big Texas premier,” he said, to the expected wild applause.

After the movie, during a Q&A led by Harry Knowles, Rodriguez was joined by stars Danny Trejo, Alexa Vega and Marko Zaror.

Vega, the star of the Spy Kids movies, certainly looks different as deadly hooker KillJoy. Vega said she had to beg Rodriguez to let her be in the violent picture and noted that it is tough getting adult parts.

That said, Rodriguez said that he told Vega she could stand in the background or step up, essentially to be as involved as she chose. Vega stepped up and even got a few lines that Rodriguez said were intended for others.

Trejo said, having known Vega since she was 11, reacted poorly when he saw Vega in her rather revealing out fit. “It was like seeing my daughter in bikini,” he said, “I wanted to say, “you’re not going out looking like that.”

Both Rodriguez and Trejo heaped praise on Zaror, a stellar martial artist who is over six feet tall.

“He moves so fast, you cannot believe it,” Rodriguez said, adding that since he was a bad guy, he knew Machete would have to kill him, but he wanted as much Zaror as possible. “So we made him a clone.”

Rodriguez said he gave a 40-page treatment to screenwriter Kyle Ward. “You always wanna write it down,” Rodriguez said, which gives you at least a frame to work from if nobody is inspired on the day to change something for the better.

He also noted that a short shoot gives you a certain amount of freedom in that there just isn’t time to do everything yourself. He said he would essentially tell Zaror, “we need a fight scene here, go figure it out,” letting Zaror choreograph a lot of stunts.

A short shoot also meant that a director could give a particular actor undivided attention. “We had Lady Gaga for one day,” he said. “We had Mel Gibson for three days.” He would spend all of that time with that actor getting those scenes. “It is really nice to be able to do it that way and just concentrate on one character.

He said that he only wanted Gibson as the big bad guy, thinking he would be perfect as “the ultimate Roger Moore-era Bond villain.”

As for the amazing trailer for “Machete Kills Again…in Space,” (which Knowles noted does have that Galaxy of Terror look and feel), Rodriguez said he was at a Hollywood party where he saw both Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, both of whom are interested in private space programs and was inspired to get the man himself up there.