Freddy Rodriguez takes on his first action role in the Planet Terror half of Grindhouse, the collaborative effort of filmmakers Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez. Freddy Rodriguez plays a loner named Wray who teams up with his ex (Rose McGowan) when things start to get strange in a small town in Texas.
Is the process different when you’re working on a film like this?
“No, it’s not different, especially in the acting style. We thought in the beginning we said, ‘Hey, should we play it like these guys played it back in the day?’ Robert just said, ‘No, no. Just play it straight, play it real, play it as though you were doing a regular movie.’ There’s so many outrageous things happening aside of that, for us to be as outrageous as those guys were back in the day it just wouldn’t have worked.”
What grindhouse movies did you watch?
“Quentin would have us over to his house and Quentin has a pretty beautiful theater. The theater that he built is great, and we would go there and watch these grindhouse movies. I remember for like two days straight, five hours a day, we were there watching these terrible grindhouse movies. I saw a movie called Zombie. I saw one called Philander Manor. One called Chinese Hercules, this steroided up Asian guy who could barely move. This guy was so big.”
How did that help you get into character?
“I knew what Robert and Quentin were going for because as cheesy as all of that was, there was a cool element to it as well that I can’t really describe. You had to feel it, you know? I knew that Quentin and Robert were just trying to take that cool element and add a real budget and add real actors and a real story behind it.”
Did you shoot the missing reel so we can see it later on the DVD?
“You’ll have to wait for the DVD. I can’t reveal that. Check it out, we shot a lot of stuff, you know? There will definitely be stuff on the missing reel.”
Will there be more on your backstory on the missing reel?
“I know it. You’ll find out. If you put the pieces of the puzzle together in the film, you kind of know what it is. This guy possesses these skills to handle knives and guns. He has a relationship with Bruce Willis in the past. Bruce Willis is a military guy, so he’s obviously an ex-military badass. That’s his backstory. You kind of know it.”
How difficult was it to learn the choreography for the knife moves?
“I had months of training for that. Months of training for the knife sequences, the gun sequences, fight choreography… I had months of training for that. I had never done that before so I had to start from scratch and look like I knew what I was doing onscreen.”
Did you do any of your own stunts?
“I did all my own stunts.”
Even the backflip on the wall?
“I did all of that. The backflip – some of it. I actually drove the car. All the knife stuff, all the gun stuff, the fighting, all of that. I trained for months for that stuff.”
You sport a lot of tattoos in the film. Are any of them real?
“All real. No, I’m kidding. None are real. No bullet wounds, no knife wounds as it was. That was all made up. And see, that’s another clue as to his background. If you see those are all military tattoos that he has… Why would a guy have that many bullet wounds and that many knife wounds? You’ve got to watch it like three times and you’ll be aware of his background.”
Was it interesting to be working on a film with so many strong women characters?
“Yeah, absolutely. I think in all of Quentin’s and Robert’s films, the women in their films are always empowered. They’re always strong women.”
Did you ever feel intimidated by Rose McGowan as Cherry?
“Sure, anybody with a gun leg… Who wouldn’t be intimidated?”
Did Rose wear the cast while you were filmmaking the lovemaking scene?
“Yeah, she was. I think she really had that on. I don’t remember, but I think she did. She’s a trouper. She’s a real trouper – Rose. She had to have that whole green screen material and that stump on for what three, four months that we did the film.”
Was Quentin Tarantino on the set a lot while Robert Rodriguez was shooting?
“Yes. We shot our film first so Quentin was there. He was there in the beginning just to get a sense of what we were all doing. I think at that time Quentin was going to shoot his film on HD. He eventually shot it on 35, but he was going to shoot it on HD and so he was there operating the HD camera and just kind of there getting a sense of what it would be like to work on HD. Eventually he changed his mind and went to 35. He was there for that reason, but at the same time Robert and him always bounce ideas off of each other. They were doing that every single day.”
Was the banter between you and Rose McGowan as Cherry adlibbed or scripted?
“I would say about 95% of it is script. It all came from Robert’s head.”
How tough was it to maintain a sense of order when you’re acting in Planet Terror?
“It’s like tunnel vision. It’s like when you’re doing theater. You block out all the audience members and you focus on what you’re doing. I had to apply a lot of that with this film. There was madness going on around me and I had to just concentrate on what I was going through.”