Grindhouse's Action Hero Freddy Rodriguez Interviewed
by Josh Green
March 30, 2007
Last weekend we had the pleasure of heading out to Los Angeles to screen Grindhouse and meet the cast and filmmakers behind the film. The star of Robert Rodriguez's half Planet Terror, Freddy Rodriguez (not related), plays an action hero character named El Wray in the film and delivers one hell of a badass performance. Some of his fight scenes rival those even in The Matrix and he delivers one of the most memorable performances out of any in the film.
Freddy is an incredibly nice and down-to-earth guy (rare with actors these days) who gave us a bit of insight into his character and the filming process for Grindhouse. If there is any one actor you keep an eye on, it should definitely be Freddy. He's starred in everything from Bobby to Harsh Times to Lady in the Water and now this, and has never failed to impress me in every film. Grindhouse opens this upcoming Friday, April 6th, so make sure you don't miss him in Planet Terror next weekend!
Josh (FS.net): Did you base your character off of anyone in particular?
Freddy Rodriguez: Not originally. Consciously I didn't, maybe subconsciously I was. It was funny because the first couple days we were shooting… the first couple days you're always still trying to find what you're doing. And Quentin stood up one day and said 'dude, you're like Snake Plissken! The character's like Snake Plissken!' And we all kind of raised an eye brow and we said, 'really?' Cause he is kind of like Snake Plissken. And so from then on, we just kind of stuck with that. Because the whole film had an old school John Carpenter feel anyway, so we said 'yea yea, he should be like Snake Plissken, ha ha ha.'
Josh: You did a lot of your own stunts in the movie right?
Freddy: Yea, I did all my own stunts.
Josh: So what was the training like for that?
Freddy: It was pretty grueling. I had months and months of that stuff. Months of gun training, knife training, fight choreography, physical training, I had to take my shirt off. I would be gone in the morning and come back home at night and have to repeat that.
Josh: Was there anything in particular that you were really excited to learn how to do?
Freddy: Yea, the knife… when I was kid I remember my brothers always had butterfly knives and could do these cool tricks and I could never do it. So it was kind of cool to have, I forgot his name, but the guy who trained Bruce Lee and his son. So he would come to my house and teach me all these cool tricks that Bruce used to do. So that blew my mind, I was like, 'wow, Bruce used to do this stuff'. So a lot of the knife tricks you see is stuff he taught me.
And the gun stuff was really interesting as well. I remember seeing Michael Biehn do those great tricks in Tombstone. So the same guy who taught him, taught me. So I just wanted to learn some of that stuff. I was excited to do all that. I've never played an action hero in my life. Because I was given that opportunity I just gave it 150% for it to be believable.
Josh: So are you excited to be a lead role in the movie?
Freddy: It's great, it's a dream come true to be lead a role. And to be an action hero… Yea it's a dream come true to be an action hero. If an actor is going to be an action hero, do it in a Robert Rodriguez movie, because that guy is going to make you look like a million bucks. So for me, to achieve that dream and do it with Robert is like hitting two birds with one stone.
Josh: Are there a lot of awesome or memorable characters in Planet Terror? Do you picture El Wray becoming an iconic character like Snake Plissken or Ash from the Evil Dead movies?
Freddy: [Laughs] Right. I hope that he would! I think that he has… I think there's a possibility that he could be. I think that it all depends how much people are receptive to that character. But I think he has those qualities about him that could make him an iconic character.
Freddy in a scene from Grindhouse.
Josh: Do you know if they're making an action figure of you?
Freddy: From what I heard is, I think right now it's just Marley [Shelton], Rose [McGowan], and Quentin to start off with. And then they'll put the movie out, and if the film does well, and people request it, then they'll start making those action figures. And I had actually suggested, 'if you do it, you should make interchangeable guns and knives and…'
Josh: Twist off hands-
Freddy: Yea, wouldn't that be cool? Or like, because half of the movie I have no blood, the other half I have a lot of blood, maybe a little feature where you could put blood on his face or something.
Josh: If they do a toy, what kind of process do they have to go through? Do they have to do a mold or?
Freddy: Yea, I think so. It's either a mold or photos. I would think it would be more… I don't know if it would be a mold. Because if they were take a mold of my face it isn't El Wray, I look completely different. They would have to do something with the film where they would just take a bunch of images from the film.
Josh: Were you a fan of the grindhouse films before you even jumped on the project?
Freddy: I don't know if I was a fan, I was aware of it. When I was a kid my pop used to take me to the double feature. He would take me, I had two brothers, and we used to go in the early 80's and check out these grindhouse movies - a double feature, sometimes a triple feature. So I was aware of it. So when Robert and Quentin presented the film to me, I said, 'oh ok, I'm aware of what you're trying to do'. And we went to Quentin's house, and Quentin has this great theater in his house, and we watched a bunch of grindhouse movies there so then we got an idea of what they were trying to achieve.
Josh: What inspired you to become an actor?
Freddy: I started acting when I was 13, almost 18 years ago. Just the pure love of it. I came from the stage so it was a different kind of acting, or a different arena of acting, and I just loved to do it as a kid. It's really gratifying to get to create these different characters and to get to create different voices and to get to wear different clothes. And then to watch it on screen and for people to laugh or cry or you know, just to dig the characters that I create.
Josh: You've been able to span a lot of different genres now, you were really dramatic and emotional with Bobby and now this is very action oriented with Grindhouse. Are you drawn to a particular type of genre or a particular type of character?
Freddy: No, there isn't a particular type of genre that I'm drawn to. I'm more drawn to the possibility of creating different characters, or being able to go from one genre to the other and to show that I could do it, that I could be good at it. And that's what's important to me. Because then when I sit down with people here like you or other people and they say 'wow, you play this guy, you went from playing a mortician to a bus boy to a loser in Harsh Times to this crazy guy in Lady in the Water to this'. So people see the progression of the characters and they're fascinated by it. So, there isn't one genre that I particularly like.
Josh: Can you tell us about your future projects, anything coming up?
Freddy: Well, nah, I haven't quite signed on to something I might do, yet. You'll probably hear about it before the film comes out. But until we finish all the negotiations and everything, I can't say.
Thanks to Freddy Rodriguez and Dimensions Films and The Weinstein Company for providing us this opportunity to talk with the latest badass action hero and incredibly talented actor. Make sure you catch him in Grindhouse next Friday, April 6th!