Robert Rodriguez
Birth Date:
June 20, 1968
Birth Place:
San Antonio, Texas, USA
6' 2
Famous for:
Director of 'El Mariachi' (1992)
Director, Producer, Screenwriter
St. Anthony Catholic High School, Texas
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Spy Kids


“Even though I can make my own budgets, I always ask for less money than we need so that you have to be more creative. You have to strip it down.” Robert Rodriguez

After directing the award winning short “Bedhead” (1991), Mexican American filmmaker Robert Rodriguez was shot to international fame with the Spanish “El Mariachi” (1992), his feature film debut. The action film won an Independent Spirit Award for Best First Feature and an Audience Award for Dramatic at the Sundance Film Festival. Rodriguez then released “Desperado” (1995) and “Once Upon a Time in Mexico” (2003), which is widely known as the Mariachi Trilogy. His experiences making “El Mariachi” has been chronicled in the book “Rebel Without A Crew: Or How a 23-Year-Old Filmmaker With $7,000 Became a Hollywood Player,” which Rodriguez wrote.

Almost a decade later, the multi talented filmmaker enjoyed a huge box office success with the adventure film “Spy Kids” (2001), from which he won an ALMA Award for his directing. It was the foundation of the two equally successful sequels “Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams” (2002) and “Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over” (2003). He took home an Imagen Foundation Award for “Spy Kids 2” and ASCAP Awards for both sequels. He furthered gained financial success with the feature film version of “Sin City” (2005), which he directed with the graphic novels’ creator Frank Miller. The film also brought Rodriguez various awards and nominations for his work, including a Cannes Film Festival Award, an Austin Film Award, an ASCAP Award and two Online Film Critics Society Awards. Commenting on Frank Miller, he said, “Frank is such a great visual storyteller that if you study his artwork you see that his 'Sin City' books are already the best movies never seen on the big screen.”

Rodriguez has also directed, produced and/or written other films, including “From Dusk till Dawn” (1996), “The Faculty” (1998),“The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl 3-D” (2005), “Planet Terror” (2007) and “Shorts” (2009). His upcoming films include “Machete” (2010), “Sin City 3” (2012), “Red Sonja” (2010) and “Predators” (2010).

Rodriguez has frequently edited, composed the music and done the cinematography for his films. He has worked several times with fellow filmmaker and actor Quentin Tarantino as well as actor Antonio Banderas and actress Salma Hayek.

Rodriguez and his producer wife, Elizabeth Avellan, divorced in 2008. They share five children together. A year after announcing his separation from his wife, Rodriguez confirmed that he was in a relationship with actress Rose McGowan, whom he met while filming “Grindhouse.” They were engaged in September 2008, but broke up on October 2, 2009.

Los Hooligans

Childhood and Family:

Robert Anthony Rodriguez was born on June 20, 1968, in San Antonio, Texas, to Mexican American parents. His father, Cecilio Rodriguez, was a salesman and his mother, Rebecca Rodriguez, was a nurse. He came from a big family consisting of many children, among them Christina, Elizabeth, Rebecca, Patricia Vonne and Angela Lanza (all actresses). His brother, David, acted in and contributed to the story of his film “Bedhead” (1991).

Robert first developed a love for film at age 7 when his father purchased a VCR, which came with a camera. It was after watching John Carpenter's “Escape from New York” that the then-11 year old Robert decided to pursue a filmmaking career. By age 13, he had made Super 8 movies. After graduating from St. Anthony High School Seminary in Texas, Robert originally intended on enrolling in the film program at The University of Texas in Austin, Texas, but he was rejected due to his poor grades. He then majored in communications at the university and began his interest in cartoons. While continuing to make short films, he created a daily comic strip called “Los Hooligans” for the student newspaper The Daily Texan. The comic strip, whose characters were largely based on his siblings, was a success and ran for three years. Robert's hard work and persistence finally paid off in 1990 when his submission to a local film competition earned him a place at the university's film school. He, however, later quit school to focus on his career. He would formally complete his radio-television-film degree from the College of Communication at the University of Texas in Austin on May 23, 2009.

On July 9, 1990, Robert married Elizabeth Avellan (born on November 8, 1960). The couple has four sons and one daughter. They are Rocket Valentino Rodriguez (born on September 14, 1995), Racer Maximiliano Rodriguez (born on April 16, 1997), Rebel Antonio Rodriguez (born in January 1999), Rogue Rodriguez (born in 2004) and Rhiannon Elizabeth Rodriguez (born on December 10, 2005). The couple divorced on April 12, 2008.

El Mariachi


Despite an early interest in filmmaking, Robert Rodriguez failed to enter film school but scored success with his comic creation for the Daily Texan newspaper. With borrowed equipment and limited money, he continued to make numerous short movies and compiled several of them for “Austin Stories,” a video anthology featuring his younger siblings. The film won several awards and helped him gain admission to film school. Once he was accepted, the aspiring filmmaker directed an eight minute short titled “Bedhead” (1991), which he co-wrote with his brother David and a friend named Bryant Delafosse, in addition to serving as a cameraman, editor, creating the animated title sequence and co-composing the music. Starring four of his siblings, the short was entered into several film festivals and ended up winning cash prizes in competition.

Rodriguez made his feature film directing debut the following year with “El Mariachi,” a Spanish language action flick that tells the story of an unsuccessful musician traveling through Mexico. Originally intended for the Mexican home video market, the film, which Rodriquez also wrote, produced, edited and did the cinematography, caught the attention of Columbia Pictures, which brought the rights of the film for American distribution. Columbia also signed him to a two year contract.

Premiering at the Toronto Film Festival on September 15, 1992, “El Mariachi” was shown at the Sundance Film Festival in January 1993, where it won the Audience Award for Dramatic and the Berlin Film Festival in February 1993 before being released theatrically in the U.S. on February 26, 1993. The film went on to win an Audience Award at the 1993 Deauville Film Festival, Best First Feature Award at the 1994 Independent Spirit Awards, a 1994 Premio ACE for Cinema Best First Work, and a 1994 Saturn nomination for Best Genre Video Release.

In 1994, Rodriguez ventured to the small screen with the TV film “Roadracers.” The cast included David Arquette, John Hawkes, Jason Wiles, William Sadler and Salma Hayek, who made her Hollywood debut in the film. Apart from directing, Rodriguez also co-wrote, produced and edited the film. Back to feature films, Rodriguez directed, wrote, produced and edited the action thriller “Desperado” (1995), a sequel to “El Mariachi” that starred Antonio Banderas and Hayek. The film was screened out of competition at the 1995 Cannes Film Festival and enjoyed significant success at the box office where it grossed over $25 million, well above its $7 million budget. “Desperado” also featured Joaquim de Almeida, Steve Buscemi, Cheech Marin, Tito Larriva, Danny Trejo and his frequent collaborator Quentin Tarantino, who made a cameo appearance in the film. The same year, he also helmed the segment “The Misbehavers” of the film “Four Room,” a collaboration effort with filmmakers Allison Anders, Alexandre Rockwell and Tarantino.

In 1996, Rodriguez directed the movie “From Dusk till Dawn,” which he produced with Tarantino who also wrote the screenplay and starred in the film as Richard Gecko. Other cast members included George Clooney, Harvey Keitel and Juliette Lewis. The film earned mixed reviews from critics and Rodriguez picked up Silver Scream Award at the 1996 Amsterdam Fantastic Film Festival and a Saturn nomination for Best Director. “From Dusk till Dawn” spawned two direct to video follow ups, “From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money” (1999), and “From Dusk Till Dawn 3: The Hangman's Daughter” (1999), which was directed by Scott Spiegel and P.J. Pesce, respectively, with Rodriguez producing both projects.

Two years later, Rodriguez directed Elijah Wood, Josh Hartnett and others in the horror film “The Faculty” (1998), which was written by Kevin Williamson of “Scream” fame. The reviews of the film were mixed, but it performed well at the box office where it grossed over $40 million at the domestic marker, well above its $15 million production cost.

After a break, Rodriguez returned to the director's chair to helm “Spy Kids” (2001), which he also wrote, edited and produced. Starring Alexa Vega, Daryl Sabara, Antonio Banderas and Carla Gugino, the film received positive reviews and won an ALMA for Outstanding Director in a Motion Picture and an ASCAP Film and Television Music for Top Box Office Films, not to mention ALMA nominations for Outstanding Motion Picture and Outstanding Screenplay (Original or Adapted), Broadcast Film Critics Association's Critics Choice nomination for Best Family Film - Live Action, a PFCS nomination for Best Family Film, a Young Artist nomination for Best Family Feature Film - Comedy and a Saturn nomination for Best Fantasy Film, among other nominations. With a domestic gross of over $112 million, “Spy Kids” marked Rodriguez's first massive commercial success in Hollywood.

The sequel “Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams” was released on August 7, 2002, with Rodriguez serving as director, writer, producer (with wife Elizabeth Avellan), editor, composer and cinematographer on the film. Like its predecessor, the movie was a hit. With a budget of $38 million, the film collected about $90 million in the U.S. and over $119 million internationally. For his efforts, Rodriguez won an Imagen for Best Director (Foreign or Domestic) - Film and an ASCAP for Top Box Office Films. The next installment, “Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over,” followed on July 25, 2003. Despite earning mixed reviews, the film was a solid box office success worldwide with total earnings of over $197 million. The film was directed by Rodriguez. He also served as producer, editor and cinematographer and composed the film score. “Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over” brought Rodriguez a 2004 ASCAP for Top Box Office Films.

Outside the “Spy Kids” movie series, Rodriguez also wrote and directed “Once Upon a Time in Mexico” (2003), which was shot before “Spy Kids 2” and “Spy Kids 3.” The final film of the “Mariachi Trilogy,” which included “El Mariachi” and “Desperado,” the film gained primarily good reviews from critics. It grossed over $56 million in North America and over $44 million elsewhere, well above its $29 million budget. The film starred Antonio Banderas and Johnny Depp, among other stars. Rodriguez, who also wrote the film score, netted a Golden Satellite for Best Original Song for the song “Siente Mi Amor.”

After directing the short/documentaries films “Ten Minute Flick School: Fast, Cheap and in Control,” “Ten Minute Cooking School: Puerco Pibil” and “Inside Troublemaker Studios” (all 2004), Rodriguez co-directed (with Frank Miller) the big screen adaptation of “Sin City” (2005), which was based on comic books and graphic novel series created by Miller. The film received mainly good reviews from critics and grossed over $158 million worldwide. “Sin City” brought Rodriguez the Technical Grand Prize at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival, an Austin Film Award at the 2005 Austin Film Critics Association, an ASCAP for Top Box Office Films, Online Film Critics Society awards for Best Editing and Best Cinematography and a string of additional nominations. The film starred Bruce Willis, Mickey Rourke, Clive Owen, Jessica Alba, Benicio del Toro, Brittany Murphy, Elijah Wood, Rosario Dawson, Jaime King, Michael Clarke Duncan, Nick Stahl and Alexis Bledel, among other actors.

Still in 2005, Rodriguez also co-wrote and directed (with his son Racer) the fantasy film “The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl 3-D,” which starred Taylor Lautner, Taylor Dooley, Cayden Boyd and George Lopez. Although the film was panned by critics and did not perform well at the box office, Rodriguez was nominated for Best Director at the 2006 Imagen Foundation Awards for his work on the film. The same year, he also wrote and served as executive producer on the horror film “Curandero,” directed by Eduardo Rodriguez. Two years later, he wrote and directed “Planet Terror,” which starred Rose McGowan, Freddy Rodriguez, Josh Brolin, Marley Shelton, Jeff Fahey, Michael Biehn and Bruce Willis. A tribute to the zombie film genre, the film was released theatrically in the U.S. and Canada as part of a double feature with Quentin Tarantino's “Death Proof” under the title “Grindhouse.” “Grindhouse” received positive reviews from critics, but was a box office flop.

Rodriguez resurfaced in 2009 as the director and writer of the family film “Shorts,” which was produced by Elizabeth Avellan and starred Jimmy Bennett, Kat Dennings, Trevor Gagnon, Jon Cryer, Leslie Mann, William H. Macy and James Spader. The same year, he also served as a co-producer of the TV film “Addicto de Salsa.

Rodriguez's new film, “Machete,” an expansion of “Planet Terror,” is scheduled to be released in the United States on April 16, 2010. He co-directed the film with Ethan Maniquis, in addition to serving as a writer and producer. He has signed on to direct the installment “Sin City 3” (2012). Other upcoming film projects include “Red Sonja” (2010, as producer) and “Predators” (2010, as writer/producer).


  • ShoWest Convention: ShoWest Award, Director of the Year, 2007

  • ASCAP Film and Television Music: Top Box Office Films, “Sin City,” 2006

  • Austin Film Critics Association: Austin Film Award, “Sin City,” 2006

  • Online Film Critics Society (OFCS): Best Cinematography, “Sin City,” 2006

  • Online Film Critics Society (OFCS): Best Editing, “Sin City,” 2006

  • Cannes Film Festival: Technical Grand Prize, “Sin City,” 2005

  • ASCAP Film and Television Music: Top Box Office Films, “Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over,” 2004

  • Satellite: Golden Satellite, Best Original Song, “Once Upon a Time in Mexico,” for the song “Siente Mi Amor,” 2004

  • ASCAP Film and Television Music: Top Box Office Films, “Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams,” 2003

  • Imagen Foundation: Imagen Award, Best Director (Foreign or Domestic) - Film, “Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams,” 2003

  • Imagen Foundation: Norman Lear Writer's Award

  • ALMA: Outstanding Director in a Motion Picture, “Spy Kids,” 2002

  • Amsterdam Fantastic Film Festival: Silver Scream Award, “From Dusk Till Dawn,” 1996

  • Berlin International Film Festival: Berlinale Camera, 1999

  • Independent Spirit: Best First Feature, “El Mariachi,” 1994

  • Premio ACE: Cinema - Best First Work, “El Mariachi,” 1994

  • Deauville Film Festival: Audience Award, “El Mariachi,” 1993

  • Sundance Film Festival: Audience Award, Dramatic, “El Mariachi,” 1993

  • National Board of Review: Special Award, 1993

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