Twenty years have passed since Robert Rodriguez blew Sundance audiences away with “El Mariachi,” his breakout action movie that paved the way for the Antonio Banderas-starring “Desperado” and “Once Upon a Time in Mexico” — and in 2013, Rodriguez returned to Park City to celebrate the anniversary of his cult classic.
But the story of “El Mariachi” winning a coveted Audience Award at Sundance in 1993 doesn’t actually begin in Sundance. “Probably a year before that is when Columbia Pictures found it, bought it and signed me to a two-year directing deal,” Rodriguez told MTV News about the film’s origin. “We were going to remake it outright into ‘Desperado,’ but they decided to test out the original film. I had no intention of anyone seeing it; I had made it in Spanish for the home video market. But they said, ‘Let’s test this one to see if they like the ending, because if they don’t like the ending — if it’s a bummer with the girl dying — we wouldn’t want to do it that way when we remake it.’”
When test screenings went over extremely well with audiences, it was decided that “El Mariachi” would hit the festival circuit, despite Rodriguez’s desire to remake the film first. (“I wanted more money,” he explained, “but it would’ve ruined the film.”) The first step was the Toronto International Film Festival, where Rodriguez met friend and frequent collaborator Quentin Tarantino, who was at the festival championing his breakout hit, “Reservoir Dogs.”
“Geoff Gilmore from Sundance saw ['El Mariachi'] and said, ‘Don’t show it anywhere else. If you wait until Sundance, you’ll win something with this,’” Rodriguez remembered. “We waited, and we won the Audience Award [at Sundance]. It was fantastic.”
Twenty years later, Rodriguez has directed countless hits, including the Banderas-led follow-ups to “El Mariachi.” But some time has passed since Rodriguez and Banderas joined forces together. The director explained that they’ve “been on different tracks” over the past few years, but they were finally able to align their schedules for a brief collaboration on “Machete Kills.”
“We forgot about how much fun we’ve had together,” Rodriguez said about working with Banderas again. “We decided we have to do something. We want to do another ‘El Mariachi’ movie at some point. We always said we would, but [we'd shoot it] much later when he’s older and rounder.”
The only problem with Rodriguez’s plan: while Banderas has gotten older, he has not gotten rounder. “We have to figure something else out, because he’s in better shape now than he ever was,” the filmmaker laughed.
The 2013 Sundance Film Festival is officially under way, and the MTV Movies team is on the ground reporting on the hottest stars and the movies everyone will be talking about in the year to come. Keep it locked with MTV Movies for everything there is to know about Sundance.