“All ignorant people on the planet who don’t know how to love – they should all stop saying stupid things. They should all get shot in the throat.”
As evidenced by that gloriously ironic statement, Michelle Rodriguez doesn’t pull any punches, and she doesn’t shy away from controversy – and neither does her latest film Machete, in which director Robert Rodriguez (no relation) takes the hot-button topic of illegal immigration and uses it as the foundation for an exploitation movie that is crazy bloody fun, starring venerable character-actor Danny Trejo. She stars as ‘She,’ a mysterious woman running a massive underground network to help smuggle Mexican immigrants over the border while eluding brutally murderous self-appointed border patrollers.
“I personally find it to be extraordinarily fun because of the fact that you can get away with so much with a comedy or exploitation film,” Rodriguez said. “It doesn’t matter that this person said that derogatory term or this person feels that way about Latin people like they should all die, or murder them at the gates. It’s okay – 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 – the Latin community parties and the American hick individuals – they will resonate with you when you walk about of that theater because they are real opinions from real people. It’s just exaggerated in an exploitative film. If anybody leaves with anything, it’s the acknowledgment that we’re living in a society where people still are judgmental idiots. This film really feeds off of that like no tomorrow.”
She was also excited to work with Robert, because of his penchant for creating strong female roles. “It was like, ‘Holy schnap, about time.’ I’ve always wanted to work with him,” she said. “He’s a cool cat. There’s only a handful of directors who understand the balance between men and women, the alchemical balance between a man and a woman and a woman’s body. Most people consider it the strong woman character, and not many people understand how to balance that out properly so that she’s sexy and kicks ass. He gets it, so I’ve always wanted to work with him.”
Yet, being sexy is not necessarily an invitation to to talk about sex. When asked about a steamy scene she has with Trejo, her first response was “Why does everybody care so much what girls do with their privates?”
She’s more inclined to talk about the Latin-American community and the under-representation in film. “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,” she noted, “and I feel like the imprint that the Latin community has made culturally throughout the years is kind of gray. We can’t really put a massive stamp that says, ‘Oh my god, this really expresses what it’s like to be American and Latin.’ It’s all like drug dealers or maids. Jennifer Lopez is pretty much the closest we’ve come. We’re part of it, we’re that movement. For me personally, it’s like saying to our own Latin community, ‘Listen, there’s a massive voice of American Latinos that are different from your culture, so let’s start making some movies.’ I just really appreciate that Robert’s been around to make that impact, truly, since Desperado and El Mariachi.”
She admits to her own shortcomings in this area, too. “I didn’t really know about El Mariachi because I’m a very commercial, pop culture kind of person when it comes to being exposed to my own Latin community,” she revealed. “Isn’t that sad?”