Robert Rodriguez on Sin City

Robert Rodriguez, co-writer and co-director of Sin City, told about his first impressions of making the movie. “It’s probably the hardest I’ve worked on a movie. I thought it was going to be easy – hey, just copy what’s out of the book, and there you go. It is a lot of work. I think somewhere near the end I realized – it’s funny because it’s sort of a trilogy all released the same day, so it was kind of like doing three movies in one.”

The film, though thoroughly violent like its source material, encountered no problems from the MPAA. “Actually, we had no problems with MPAA or anything like that. I think it had to do with the stylization of it and also the comic – when you read the comic book, the stylized world and abstract nature of some of his ways of depicting violence or action translated directly to the screen, and we had no problems because it became so stylized and such it’s own world. I mean you really go into Sin City when you watch the movie and then get transported to that world. That’s why I felt it important to visually make it as much like the book as possible, because that was the effect of the book. I found it very easy to read and very powerful… That is it so over-the-top and stylized like in the book. That’s what helped temper it was that it was so black and white, so abstract, so representative that it’s easier to watch than if it were realistically rendered. I think the tone of it has really changed it. I never got any flack for “Desperado” at a time when people would criticize guys like Quentin for cutting an ear off off camera, I was mowing down people in my movies and nobody said anything about the violence because of the tone. And I think that’s the same thing for this. As violent as it is, like in the comic, it felt tempered by the stylization. That’s why we didn’t have any trouble with the MPAA or anything.”

Rodriguez worked with writer of the graphic novels, Frank Miller, as his co-director. “It was very complementary. I wanted him to be a director rather that just there as a writer, a producer, because I felt if (it) just came to that, they might just stick him in the corner and feed him a sandwich every once in a while. But if he was a director, everyone would have to listen to him. I didn’t want it to be Robert Rodriguez’s ‘Sin City’. I loved the book so much, I wanted it to be as close to something that he would do in the movie as possible. And it was very complementary. I tried not to do any contradictory directing. If he told an actor one thing, I wouldn’t tell them the exact opposite… He let me handle all the visual stuff. He was really there working with the actors, knowing the characters so well. I didn’t know everything about the characters cause it’s not all in the book, a lot of it’s in his head, and they loved to be able to know where the character was going in future volumes, or what he was thinking when he put it together, and how it should be performed.”

Rodriguez discussed his casting of Bruce Willis as the hardened cop, Hartigan. “He is the character in the book. He’s like that. That’s why I thought of him. This is Bruce Willis… that laconic retiring cop, the knight in shining armor. I couldn’t think of anyone else to play him, and he was the first guy we went to. And Frank was just thrilled. He thought that would be perfect, so he looked at a couple of minutes of it, and said, ‘I’m in. I know he loves film noirs. I think he’s perfect for that world. He fits right in.'”

Rodriguez talked about working with special guest director Quentin Tarantino and which sequence he shot. “He was great. Originally, I had thought there would be more shorter stories in the movie, as well when I first told him about it and then it ended up being the longer ones. So, I told him ‘Well, you can direct one of the sequences’ because Frank (Miller) originally issued them in small issues.’ That’s why you always see these characters die every ten minutes because he always wanted you to come back to the next comic book. So, each book was made up of several smaller issues. I had to basically do an issue which was where Benicio and Clive were in the car together and Benicio’s got the gun barrel and he’s talking. It was Quentin’s idea to have him speak in an outer voice, where it was voice over, to actually speak it out. He did something kind of like that in “Reservoir Dogs” and Clive didn’t know until the day. Quentin was like ‘Wait a minute. All this monologue that you were going to do with voice over later, you should do it on the set. Can you learn it real quick?’ Clive really impressed the hell out of Quentin. That’s all he ever talks about is the fact that Clive went away for five minutes and did the whole monologue right there off the cuff. Especially since he’s trying to do an American accent so he had to figure that out as well right there on the day. Quentin came in so prepared. Frank and I had been shooting already. This was our last episode. He was afraid he’d be unprepared so he over prepared and made Frank and I look like bums. He came in with every shot written up, all this visionary stuff…We just blasted through it. He had a blast doing it.”

Sin City was shot much like last year’s “Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow,” utilizing a HD green-screen effect. Rodriguez discussed the differences between the two films. “They were kind of both (made) at the same time. I’d just done a bunch of movies on green screen; I’d done the Spy Kids that were; that even the props weren’t there, because it was all assimilated from the game. Even though they said that was the first movie done on green screen, I actually already had been doing that. But when I did ‘Sin City’, I hadn’t seen any materials on ‘Sky Captain’; I didn’t really know they were doing a green screen movie with HD. I had already been doing that for a while. I shot the test and I went and showed Frank the material and, it’s very different because we were shooting on green screen to; not just to save money, which is kind of why they were doing that, but it was really the only way we could capture these images and get that black and white style; cause if you shot it in a real environment, all these things just go grey, cause they’re all midtones. You have to isolate the actors from the background in order to create that very stark black & white; to create a black & white that you’ve never seen before, because if you watch a black & white movie, it’s really grey and white, because of all the midtones. And we had to get rid of all of those, the way Frank did with pen and ink. So, I realized ‘This is going to be a total exercise in things I’ve been doing.’ That’s why I felt comfortable doing it, cause I’d already done all this stuff as a photographer, as an effects supervisor, coming up with these ideas.”

Rodriguez has a very elaborate DVD planned for the movie already. “We shot the full stories of the books, and I knew we could truncate it down, knowing that we weren’t going to lose any scenes; eventually they would all be available for people to see. So the DVD will come out with the theatrical cut, and then there’ll be a separate disc that’s got the individual episodes separated with their own title card, and you can just watch The Big Fat Kill from beginning to end, the full cut. That’s a single story, and then switch over and watch The Yellow Bastard and that’s forty five minutes. It’ll have all the material back in. So it’ll be like the experience of picking up the book, where you pick up one story and you read it from beginning to end. And it’ll have all the material in it. You can shuffle your own version of the movie and just watch them all separately… And then I’m gonna add on a twenty minute film school, probably for this one, cause there’s so many things and I want another ten minute cooking school to be ‘Sin City breakfast tacos’; which I’ll make a home-made flour tortilla, and it’s the best meal you can probably ever learn.”

Sin City opens in theaters on April 1st.

Source: Andrew Weil