Robert Anthony Rodriguez is an American filmmaker best known for his successful collaborations with Quentin Tarantino, including From Dusk Till Dawn (1996).
Director and filmmaker was born on June 20, 1968, in San Antonio, Texas. As a part of a large family, Rodriguez began by making short films, which often featured some of his nine siblings. Initially rejected from film school, Rodriguez continued making movies. He went to the University of Texas, where he started doing cartoons that he called Los Hooligans, also the name of his production company later on, that ran in the school’s newspaper. In 1990 he got into UT’s film program, where he made the short film Bedheadon 16mm which earned him awards at film festivals.
He made his first feature film El Mariachi (1993) on a very tight budget—only $7,000. Some of the money came from his work as a human guinea pig to test a new medication. Playing on Mexican and American western themes, the Spanish-language action movie centered on a wandering musician who gets caught up with some bad guys after switching guitar cases with a hitman who uses a similar case to carry around the tools of his trade.
As El Mariachi demonstrated, Rodriguez was a talented filmmaker, and it helped him land a deal with Columbia Pictures. His next project was his first major production. Desperado (1995), another action film, starred Salma Hayek and Antonio Banderas. Rodriguez then brought an element of the supernatural to his southwestern-set films with From Dusk to Dawn. The story focuses on two brothers – played by George Clooney and Quentin Tarantino—fighting off vampires while stuck in a small border town. Rodriguez revisited El Mariachi territory with the sequel Once Upon A Time in Mexico (2003).
Around this time, Rodriguez and his wife Elizabeth Avellan started their production facility—now known as Troublemaker Studios—near Austin, Texas. Over the years, he has chosen to work near his home, far away from the Hollywood scene.
In 2001, Rodriguez stepped away from the adult action and horror genres and into brand-new territory. With Spy Kids, he showed the world that he could make fun, engaging family films.
Rodriguez tackled his darkest, most violent project to date with 2005’s Sin City, an animated adaptation of the graphic novel series by Frank Miller. Miller was resistant to putting Sin City on the silver screen, but Rodriguez won him over. Miller and Rodriguez worked together on the project and were credited as co-directors of the film with Quentin Tarantino acting as a special guest director. The Directors’ Guild of America did not approve of the sharing of the director credit, and Rodriguez quit the guild in protest.
That same year Rodriguez also returned to kid-friendly fare with The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl 3-D. It was based on story developed by his son Racer, who received a credit for writing the screenplay. Despite the interesting 3-D effects, this movie didn’t really register with theater-goers or with critics.
Despite the occasional box office disappointment, Rodriguez has become one of the most respected Latino filmmakers working today. Another interesting project for Rodriguez has been Grind House, a double feature with Quentin Tarantino in 2007, done in the style of the B movies of the 1970s. Rodriguez’s film, Planet Terror, was released the same year. Tarantino’s part of the double feature is called Death Proof and features Kurt Russell as crazed stuntman using his vehicle as a weapon.
In 2006, Rodriguez and his wife Elizabeth announced that they were separating after 16 years of marriage. The couple has five children—Rocket, Racer, Rebel, Rogue and Rhiannon—and will continue to work together professionally. He began dating actress Rose McGowan the following year after meeting her on the set of Grindhouse. They announced their engagement in October 2007 and broke off their relationship and plans for marriage two years later.
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