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Robert Rodríguez, Danny Trejo and Alexa Vega talk ‘Machete Kills’

Photo: Courtesy Photos, License: N/A

Courtesy Photos

Master of Mexploitation—Robert Rodríguez on the set of Machete Kills

Photo: , License: N/A

All grown up—Alexa Vega as “Killjoy”



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Agreeing to an itty-bitty 10-minute interview with Robert Rodríguez, Danny Trejo and Alexa Vega shows you how much we care about anything Machete. I hustled my way into 15 minutes, and when I showed up at the Austin hotel I was told 12. Whatever. I had to work fast.

There they were: an exhausted, bored Robert Rodríguez sitting on one side of the couch; a sweet, super-friendly Danny Trejo on the other; and a shining, smiling Alexa Vega in the middle.

Looking at Trejo in person confirmed how I always imagined him: as the ultimate Chicano, not Mexican, superhero. Did Rodríguez ever think of keeping it, er, real? After all, many of the Machete actors’ Spanish, including Trejo’s, can sound far from native.

“Really? All the characters are supposed to speak Spanish?” Rodríguez asked.

Well, yeah. At least the supposedly Mexican ones.

“It depends,” said Rodríguez. “Sometimes the movies are so fantastical that ... Look: I did a movie with Willem Defoe playing a Mexican cartel leader [Once Upon a Time in Mexico]… Sometimes I want to work with an actor who gives me something I need that takes precedence besides the language.”

Nevertheless, Machete originated south of the border, according to his creator.

“It was always a Mexican character,” said Rodríguez, mentioning how he envisioned the character in the ’90s. He had read a story on how the U.S. government would use a Mexican federal (a cop, and not “Federale,” as it is being used in the movie and press materials) hired for $25,000 to do dirty work so they didn’t have to expend their own guys. “I thought, ‘Wow, that’s a cool expendable-type idea. Who would that guy be? When I met Danny, I thought he should be it—a highly trained Mexican [federal], working as a day laborer. It was essential that he not be from the U.S. I never had any doubts, that was the story—he’s a fish out of water in the U.S. and the people see him as a day worker. They don’t know he can kick everyone’s asses.”

When he told Trejo about his idea, the actor was thrilled but it took some bugging on his part to make it happen.

“When we did Desperado [1995], Robert told me, ‘I have this great character for you, you’ll be perfect for it,’ blah blah blah. I said, ‘Great!’ and for the next 15 years I called him everyday,” Trejo said. They did Spy Kids (2001, with Trejo as “Isador Cortez/Machete”), which included the fake Machete trailer and the teasers for Machete Kills and Machete Kills Again, and the buzz started to grow. “When we walked out of [the Spy Kids premiere], everybody was saying, ‘You got to do that movie, you got to do that movie!’ So Robert finally said, ‘Let’s do it.’”

Unlike the first one, heavy with political commentary, Machete Kills is all action.

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