Hotties Jessica Alba and Michelle Rodriguez kick some ass in Robert Rodriguez's brutal revenge thriller, Machete. The two starlets sat down with Buzzine to talk about working with Robert Rodriguez and Robert DeNiro, the steamy sex scenes, and their upcoming projects...
Emmanuel Itier: You’ve played a lot of bad-ass characters, Michelle. What did it mean to play a Mexican bad-ass in a Robert Rodriguez movie?
Michelle Rodriguez: It was like, “Holy shnap. It’s about time.” I’ve always wanted to work with Robert. He’s a cool cat. He understands. There’s only a handful of directors, I think, who really understand what I’d call the chemical balance between a man and a woman and a woman’s body, but most people consider it the strong woman character. Not many people understand how to balance that out properly so she’s sexy and kicks ass. He gets it, so I’ve always wanted to work with him. So, hands down, he calls me up and I’m just like, “Yep. I’m in.”
MR: It’s rough because there’s a massive, almost inevitable footprint from the African American community impacting the film industry since the beginning of film, impacting the music industry since the beginning of music in this country pretty much, and I feel like the imprint that the Latin community has made culturally throughout the years is kind of gray. It isn’t like we can really put a massive stamp on it and say, “Oh my God, this really expresses what it’s like to be American and Latin.” It’s all drug dealers or maids. Jennifer Lopez is the closest that we’ve come, and we’re a part of it, basically. We’re that movement. Rita Moreno…Westside Story… So for me personally, culturally, it’s like saying to our own Latin community, “Listen, there’s a massive voice of American Latinos that are different from your culture, and we need a voice. So let’s start making some movies.” So I just really appreciate that Robert has been around to make that impact because he’s truly…I mean, since Desperado and…El Mariachi… I didn’t really know about El Mariachi because I’m a very commercial, kind of pop culture kind of person when it comes to being exposed to my own Latin community. Isn’t that sad? But I’m an American, so Robert has really been a big part of sharing the happy voice with the world. I feel like the grand majority of the time, if there’s any voice, it’s kind of a sad story about something important that happened. Sometimes you just want to have fun, and we’re at those movies.
EI: Everyone in the movie who’s anti-illegal immigration turns out to have an ulterior motive or, in your case, you change your mind — as an ice agent, she ends up switching sides. Do you think that reflects the current political climate?
Jessica Alba: I think it’s about education and knowledge. When you start questioning authority and questioning the government and rules and laws, and digging beyond the rhetoric, you discover your own opinion. You discover your own stance. This movie is about that. It’s about not judging a book by its cover — it’s about having your own opinion, having your own voice, and hopefully connecting with humanity instead of picking a political side.
EI: Michelle, you had a scene with Robert DeNiro. Was that intimidating at all?
MR: Dude, I wish. I was shooting “Battle Los Angeles,” so we actually shot in different locations on different days. I was so pissed. I was like, “Dude, come on. Seriously? For this one little scene you’re going to keep me here in Louisiana when I could be in Austin shooting with De Niro?” But Neal [Moritz] didn’t move it around. Whatever. It’s all good. But I still love DeNiro.
EI: Jessica, finally the stilettos get to be put to some good use…
JA: Finally. They were killing my feet.
MR: Dude. I saw that scene yesterday. That was hot.
EI: What was it like to shoot that? Because you obviously have to walk in those too…
JA: Walking isn’t it as fun as putting it into someone’s eye. That’s for sure.
EI: Are you comfortable working in such high shoes like that?
JA: They were three inches, so they looked much higher. Robert knows how to put the camera low to make you look longer than you actually are, so that’s good. Three inches wasn’t too high, but no, they weren’t that comfortable, especially in…what, 104 degrees in Austin, Texas.
MR: That scene was so cool, dude. What you did with those stilettos — hot.
EI: Robert said there will be an expanded cut on the DVD. Can you talk about some scenes you shot that didn’t make the film that might make the DVD?
MR: I wonder what he’s going to throw in there. I’m sure that’s going to be fun.
JA: I think we should just wait for it because you take a leap of faith as an actress. I’m not going to speak for you, but you do with Robert, and you trust him knowing that he’s going to put it together a certain way. So we’ll just see what happens.
EI: Jessica, you’ve done both action films and comedies now. Do you prefer one over the other? And can you talk about the differences for you?
JA: I love doing both. I’ve always had a soft spot for action. I basically started my adult career doing a TV show that Jim Cameron produced… He’s another one who knows how to write strong women. So that’s where I started and I’ve always loved that, but comedy is why I started acting in the first place. So I love both.
EI: What’s the word on Fantastic Four 3?
JA: I don’t know, but I’m in The Little Fockers, which is a number 3.
EI: Can you talk about Machete being released in the current political climate and what it’s like for you two, as artists, to be asked about your political views in a setting like this, at a time like this?
MR: I personally find it to be extraordinarily fun because of the fact that you can get away with so much with a comedy or with an exploitation film. It’s the fact that, at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter that this person said that derogatory term, or this person really feels that way about Latin people — like they should all die and murder them at the gates. It’s an exploitation film where a guy swings off of another person’s intestine into a building. So it’s totally okay, but at the end of the day, those words said by both parties — both the Latin community parties and the American hick individuals in the script — they will resonate with you when you walk out of the theater because they are real opinions from real people. It’s just exaggerated in an exploitative film. So if anyone leaves with anything, it’s the acknowledgment that we’re living in a society where people still are judgmental idiots, and this film really feeds off of that like no tomorrow.
JA: I also think it’s exciting for us as artists. Usually we’re just entertaining and everything is, most of the time, pure commercial entertainment, especially in Hollywood. There isn’t a whole lot of emphasis on much else, and film is used in other places in the world for political messages, and its art in all different forms because people don’t have a voice and their government keeps them from having a voice. So knowing that we can participate in something that is socially and politically relevant, even in one of the biggest pop culture makers in the world — Hollywood — I think that’s awesome — being able to participate in that, personally.
EI: I know you both have scenes with Danny Trejo that are on the sultry side. Jessica, I know you only kissed him, but Michelle, I know you had a steamy scene…
MR: Why does everyone care so much about what girls do with their privates?
EI: Well, ever since Desperado, what it is about Danny that makes him so compelling? It doesn’t seem so far-fetched that he’d walk through and hot women would be falling at his feet…
JA: You should see him on set. Hot women were constantly falling at his feet.
MR: He’s a sweetheart, man. I mean, that guy’s heart could attract a thousand women, I’m sure. There’s something about him as a person that just is very innocent and sweet, even though in appearance it might not seem that way. I can see, in his youth, him probably attracting a lot of women. Dude, I’m serious. It’s the face. The face is so rough. It’s so weathered that it looks like he’s been through so much that it would put you off, but when you look in his eyes, you see this innocence. You’re like, oh, okay. It’s okay to lay on this guy’s chest. It’s okay to hold him. It’s all right to be around him. He’s not going to attack you.
EI: If Robert brought this back in a sequel, would you two be up for that? And Michelle, I can totally see a spin-off for your character…
MR: Oh, yeah, in a heartbeat. I love working with him. He’s awesome.
JA: The same, of course.
EI: Was there anything from the script you guys read that was different from the final cut of the film? And was there anything in that final cut that really shocked you?
JA: There was a lot less.
MR: I think you guys are really going to be surprised…
MR: I kind of knew from the jump that it was going to be some crazy-ass stuff. At the beginning, I wasn’t expecting that. So there are definite moments, especially after the special FX were added, where I’m like, “Okay, yeah. Pow. Whoa. Yes.”
JA: It’s one thing to read it and another thing to watch it.
MR: To feel it, yeah.
EI: Michelle, can you talk about doing action scenes and then doing further action scenes without depth perception? When you lost the eye, was it harder?
MR: Oh, no. It was actually… Do you use both eyes to create depth perception? I thought I still had a little depth perception with one eye. I don’t know. Maybe if you covered my ears I might get a little groggy and not know where I am and maybe my depth perception would be hurt at that point. I know you’re looking at me with your furrowed brow. Stop it. No, it didn’t effect me. I was pretty cool. The hearing made up for whatever covering one eye did.
EI: At one point, Machete said he wanted the senator to get him to stop saying stupid things. Who do you wish would stop saying stupid things?
MR: Gosh. All ignorant people on the planet who don’t know how to love. They should all stop saying stupid things. They should all just get shot in the throat [laughs]. That would be great. I think I summed it all up with that one.
JA: Oh, my God, that’s hilarious.
EI: Jessica, can you talk about what you think about the new law in Arizona, since this movie is about immigration?
JA: I think it’s disgusting that a state thinks it can override the Constitution and try to override the federal government and make their own laws. I think it’s ridiculous and it’s divisive, and it’s also totally racist.
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation's 'Machete' was released on September 3, 2010 and is now available on DVD via 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.