Some of the most insightful conversations come in the most casual settings. On The Ride we catch up with today's top personalities in technology and entertainment on their way to work, when they’re running errands, or checking out a new show. Along the way, we field questions sent live from The Verge readers via a tablet connected to the built-in OnStar Wi-Fi® hotspot, capable of 4G LTE speed.
Robert Rodriguez is not everyone’s cup of tea, but then again, he was never trying to be. With films like Machete, Planet Terror, and Sin City to his name, Rodriguez is known for his innovative risk-taking and for being unapologetically badass. We asked him on his dream collaborators, his early film inspirations, and his new Austin band. Read additional excerpts from the transcript below.
What do you love about Austin?
Been here since I came here for college and I just loved it. You know, I'm from San Antonio — this is more, Austin is more eclectic. It had the biggest university at the time when I got here. Politics, music — it's got a music scene. It's got a film scene now. So there's just a lot of diversity and everybody can just kinda do their own thing.
Would you consider doing another collaboration with Frank Miller?
In a heartbeat. Frank's a brother and we work really great together. We have a lot of fun. We've talked about many different projects.
Are there any particular styles of music or any musicians that inspire your soundtracks?
Wow, you know, I started on Desperado working with Los Lobos and getting to play in a room with them to create that score and after that I really got the bug from that and started my own band with different Austin musicians that I really liked. Sort of like a super group and we've been doing music for my movies and other people's movies like Kill Bill 2 and others since then. So it's a terrific musical outlet and double duty as it allows you to put music in your movies and TV shows.
Was there a film that you saw that just clicked for you and made you say, "I have to be a filmmaker"?
Yeah. I remember when I was 12 or 13 I saw John Carpenter’s Escape from New York and I saw that he was the writer, the director, and he did the music, and I thought, "This guy’s having the most fun in the world." I'd never really seen movies as a real creative project like that, where a person could really put their stamp on it, create their own world — and I had so many different hobbies it felt like that was a place to put all my favorite hobbies under one project. So that inspired me to continue writing, photographing, drawing, and doing music because in a movie I could do all those things.
Can you talk a little bit about that and where it might be going, you know, as we move into this brave new world of digital film?
I was always into new technology. I always found that new tools, and I saw that in any art form. You know, like if you got a different type of instrument it changed your music. If you had a different type of pen it changed your drawing. So whenever there was a new camera or a new way of visualizing, I wanted to get into it and try cause I knew it would somehow push the art form. Technology always pushes the art. So I got into digital. I loved that you could just roll. You couldn't do that before with an actor that you want to just improvise with.
So speaking of virtual reality, is it the next big thing?
My son, who's a storyteller, is 19 now, and I was saying, "What are you into? You think you wanna get into film making, movie making?" He said, "No, VR." I was like, "Oh, jeez." This kid always knows what time it is. I'm gonna follow him. Let's start a VR company together.
Are you and Quentin Tarantino best friends forever?
I met him when I was on the festival circuit, and you know, you go to festivals, and you meet other filmmakers — he was there with Reservoir Dogs, I was there with El Mariachi and we’re on panels together. We're these two new young guys making crazy actions films.
We've been buddies since then, and, so yeah, I would say we have to be friends for life. He's a great friend and just someone that you admire so much. It's weird when you have a friend like Quentin. They're your friend, but, you know, you go over to your friend’s house, you hang out, you watch movies, then every once in awhile he puts out a movie and you go and you watch the movie and you realize, "Oh wait, they're not just Clark Kent, they're Superman too.”