Tarantino and Rodriguez: Who's the Man?

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They are no longer the enfants terrible of the film world, but they are still taking wild risks. Fifteen years after bursting onto the movie scene with their popular independent films "Reservoir Dogs" and "El Mariachi," film auteurs Quentin Tarantino, 44, and Robert Rodriguez, 38, have teamed up for their sixth and most ambitious collaboration, "Grindhouse," a gory, cheeky, campy double-feature that seeks to re-create a night at a cheesy movie theater circa the 1970s.

The experience comes complete with previews for non-existent films ("Thanksgiving" by Eli Roth, director of "Hostel," for instance), aged film, and missing reels. (ABC News has learned that one of those "missing" reels was actually filmed, so fans should be on the lookout for it, perhaps in the DVD release of the film. We're holding our tongues as to which scene, so as not to be spoilers.)

"Planet Terror," Rodriguez's contribution, features Freddie Rodriguez as brooding anti-hero Wray and Rose McGowan as go-go dancer Cherry, battling zombies in a small Texas town. McGowan's right leg is eventually replaced by a machine gun. Tarantino contributes "Death Proof," starring Kurt Russell as "Stuntman Mike," a maniac who stalks scantily-clad young women with his stunt car. The film has raised eyebrows in Hollywood with its extremely violent content and three-hours-plus length, but Tarantino and Rodriguez are unapologetic and excited about their latest experiment. The following is a transcript of our interview.

JAKE TAPPER:
People probably know what a "Grindhouse" movie is, but they might not know they know what it is. So explain -- what is it?

QUENTIN TARANTINO:
A Grindhouse movie is a movie that basically they would play at these old cavernous, dilapidated theaters in urban areas of America, whether it be Kansas City, or Detroit, or Chicago, or New York. And, basically, they were movies that were just built on sensationalistic content, whether it be sex or action or scantily clad women or monsters or gore or any kind of dozens of genres that could be playing at these theaters.

Now you release a movie, maybe there are 3,000 prints going out in the course of a weekend. But, then, in grindhouse days, they might make four or five prints, and that's it. And they would take them to Chattanooga, and it would play there, those four prints. And then they would take it to Memphis, and it plays there.

And they would play it for the course of a year. But in each theater, it is getting more jacked up, because they have the worst theaters and the worst projection booths. So by the end of the -- like the year, it's a year run -- it is actually disintegrating in the projector where you paid to see it. And, kind of, that was the whole history of Grindhouse movies.

TAPPER:
Why is it called Grindhouse?

TARANTINO:
I think it is a "Variety" term. But it just kind of fits as a metaphor of, these things are ground out. And there's kind of even a striptease, bump-and-grind aspect to the entire setting.

TAPPER:
And you both grew up watching these types of movies?

ROBERT RODRIGUEZ:
Quentin even more than me. And he collects film prints. So, over the past 12 years, he has a theater in his house. He's just been showing me double, triple features of movies that either he grew up watching or that he's discovered over the years. So I've gotten the full Grindhouse education.

And it was about three years ago that I thought about doing a double feature, because I had a lot of leftover film ideas for stories that I thought, "I'm never going to get around to making all these movies. Maybe I should start doubling them up or something and make an experience." I had just done a 3-D movie. So I thought something else that would be a great theatrical experience for an audience to do a double feature.

But, then, I went and did "Sin City." And, after "Sin City," I brought the idea to Quentin, because I saw a double-feature poster laying on the floor that was just like the one I had at home that I was using as inspiration. It was a double-feature poster for "Rock All Night" and "Dragster Girl," an AIP double-feature poster. I said, "I had an idea for a double feature…" He goes, "Oh, I love double features."

I said, "But I was going to direct them both, but you should do one and I'll do the other…" And he just got ecstatic. He said, "We got to call it 'Grindhouse' Let's call it 'Grindhouse. We've got to put fake trailers in between.' And within five minutes, we came up with the idea for this whole movie.

TAPPER:
With the concept of "ruining" the prints on purpose as part of that from the beginning?

TARANTINO:
Yes, that was the biggest choice on our part. Because, you know, it really looks pretty good now, the way they do all these general negatives and everything. You know, you almost can't make a movie look bad in today's Hollywood. And we just realized that it would just feel antiseptic, like we were trying too hard. If it had this nice clean look, it just wouldn't be right.

And Robert just really kind of like led the way so much in the case of "Sin City" by picking an aesthetic and picking a look and just going all the way with it. And even the look that we're using in this, I experimented a little bit with one of the -- the Kung-Foo section of "Kill Bill." So we knew it would work. So we just decided to go all the way with it and just make it -- that's part of the experience.

RODRIGUEZ:
A lot of the prints he has collected, some of them are from different places. Some of them have played the Grindhouse circuit. So they are very ripped up. And that would add a texture to the movie that -- I would watch a movie and really enjoy it and go, "I think I actually have this movie on DVD. I'm going to go watch it at home and see if it is as good as this. I don't remember it being that good."

And you'd put it on, and it would be so clean it took away a lot of its character. So I knew that part of the character of this movie had to be that it felt like some movie that we made 10 years ago or 20 years ago that just go resurrected and just found, discovered, and have it be all ripped up like that.

TARANTINO:
I have been doing that for about 10 years now, taking double features and trailers and playing them in festivals and creating my own festival.

And the thing that's cool is there is this neat aspect that happens in the audience when they're watching these kind of prints. There's almost like an intrigue about, "Is it going to break? All right. Did I miss something?"

Even the fact that some of these prints are like Frankenstein monsters of -- or they're made up from different sources, so one reel is red and another reel is faded, then, all of a sudden, there's this Technicolor reel and it looks fantastic. You know, "Whoa." And that becomes part of the night watching that. That's a big part of the night when you screen these movies.

The Missing Reel

TAPPER:
Tell me about the missing reel.

RODRIGUEZ:
One of the festivals we had in Austin showing this film print, I was already trying to come up with as many ideas as I could for the movie. Thought about the aging. Thought about the fake trailers. And we started writing our scripts. And our scripts were getting kind of long -- "How are we going to make this for a double-feature length and they're both really long, full-feature movies?" And [Tarantino] started showing a film print of an Oliver Reed movie…

TARANTINO:
Yes, "Sellout…"

RODRIGUEZ:
And he said -- he was telling the audience beforehand, "Now, this movie has a missing reel. We lost one of the reels. So -- but it's kind of cool, because the movie goes on and then you don't know if the guy slept with her or -- back and forth. And it creates some extra kind of mystery to it."

And I thought, "Oh, my God. We should put in a missing reel, put in a card that actually says, "Missing Reel" -- you could cut out that whole late-second-act shenanigans that are kind of boring anyway and jump right into the third act and have the audience just fill in what happened."

And you can have a lot of fun with that, I think, because, right in the middle of a love scene, it can just go to a missing reel, come out and the mysterious hero that no one knew is past history. Suddenly, everyone knows it. The audience…

TARANTINO:
No information at all.

RODRIGUEZ:
No information. It was in the missing reel…

TARANTINO:
People who don't like each other, now, all of a sudden, like each other. People who weren't shot are shot.

RODRIGUEZ:
It was like taking a long bathroom break and cut 20 minutes out of the movie. And you can just keep the movie running at a full-speed-ahead, freight-train rate.

Is America Ready for 'Grindhouse'?

TAPPER:
This is a film clearly made by people who love movies and love different genres of movies. The American people obviously don't know as much about films as you guys. But do you think they're going to connect to this? I mean, obviously, you hope they do. But do you think that they have the kind of vocabulary in their brain?

TARANTINO:
Well, you know, if you have to be too schooled on any one thing, then it probably doesn't work. All right? It would be nice, you know -- we could just make it for film geeks, and that would be fine and whatever. But, then, you know, you could question about how successful it is. Because the idea is it's just going to be a really fun night at the movies. Do you need to have the background of having been to these things before, back in the day, or to be super knowledgeable about it? No. You should just be able to sit down and we take you into that experience. We don't have to teach it to you. You'll just experience it.

And part of the thing is for younger people that really have never had this experience at all before, if we did our jobs right, they should have the most fun of all, because it is really new to them. It's really for the first time, and they're getting it for the very first time. So it's like -- to them, it's even more original than it probably is.

RODRIGUEZ:
I think people who just love movies, this is such a celebration of cinema. And it's something that we just thought was lacking over the past two decades, just the showmanship that used to be involved in putting on a show for people in a theater, where you'd have two movies, you'd have trailers in between. It would be a night out.

TARANTINO:
Cartoons…

RODRIGUEZ:
You'd have cartoons and shorts. And, you know, now, it's kind of you rent a seat when you go to the theater, and there's commercials in front of that movie. So it's not even the kind of experience it used to be. So, we wanted to bring back that sort of theatrical experience that we grew up with.

TARANTINO:
The ballyhoo that really was attached to theatrical exhibition. And, you know, the one thing we can say about it is you go see "Grindhouse," you get a night at the movies. You saw something that night. And that was part of it, as much as the movies have to work. I mean, the movie has to work so good that we can yank them out and just show them on their own, and that would be good enough.

But, having said that, it's this whole Grindhouse experience that you get when you go see this movie. We did our jobs right if it's almost like a ride, as opposed to just watching a movie.

'Writing from the Heart'

TAPPER:
What you do is original and whether it's "Sin City" or "Grindhouse," it is unique. You're still doing something very independent. You're not doing romantic comedies. You're not doing mom's-dying-of-cancer dramas. You're doing serious --

TARANTINO:
That's one of the worst genres of all time, mom's-dying-of-cancer dramas.

TAPPER:
Have you ever been criticized by friends or lovers or even just internally about maybe making movies that were less visceral and had more of an emotional feeling to them? That must be something you think about. You're guys with emotions and love lives and all that. Do you ever think along those lines, as opposed to having the work be so spectacular, like "Pulp Fiction" or "Sin City," but something maybe that audiences actually cry watching, instead of just laughing and clapping?

TARANTINO:
By the end of "Kill Bill," basically when she kills Bill, it actually makes for a great operatic drama and people cried, and I was pretty happy about that. As a film aficionado and as a film scholar, I don't believe, "Oh, this is a reputable genre because it's about real people, but this Western or this Samurai movie or this whatever is not the same, it's lesser in some degree as far as personality or human heart is concerned or what it's about or its depth or meaning." I don't buy that. I don't buy that at all.

Part of my joy is working inside of genres -- because I just like genres, and I even like sub-genres, and I think every movie is a genre movie, to one degree or another. But I like working personally in there. All of my movies are about me, and people I know, and things that have happened either under the surface, or right there on the surface. Now, I'm not going to tell you that, or the audience. I'm not going to tell you, "Oh, by the way, this happened to me," or, "This is how I feel about my girlfriend," or anything like that, but it's there. It's me speaking the truth and making it work inside of here.

You're not supposed to say, "Hey, autobiography right here." That's kind of cheap to me, but the people who know me, when they read my scripts, something like "Kill Bill," it's painfully honest to them. "Plant Terror," this Zombie movie, Robert is all over it. Just right there. If you're writing really from the heart, then you should be slightly embarrassed when you hand your written work to somebody who knows you to read it. You should be embarrassed, have to avert your eyes, because you've revealed too much about yourself.

RODRIGUEZ:
We're genre filmmakers. So we end up disguising a lot of that. I wanted to make a movie forever about my family growing up with 10 kids. And I did. I just made them spies. But everything that happens to them is stuff from my childhood. I just disguise it to make it more entertaining for audiences. I don't feel like I'm just telling them my story, telling them things that I want to get across. I put it in there in a different light.

TAPPER:
What's the most autobiographical thing you've ever put in a movie?

TARANTINO:
Oh, gosh. It would be the subtext that actually borders on text in "Kill Bill." I can't -- It's not how it works. You don't go into details. But that is the answer to the question.

TAPPER:
What about you, Robert?

RODRIGUEZ:
Oh, man. I don't want to say. I don't want to say. Even something like "Shark Boy and Lava Girl," the "Spy Kid" movies, one and two in particular. This movie a lot. You disguise it, but you don't want to start telling people or they'll look and they'll see it and go, "Oh, that's him? That's him, too?"

TARANTINO:
It's not about pointing it out and saying, "This is what it is." But it's that reality, that human-heart piece of our blood that gives it depth. So it's not just a dumb deputy and the cool sheriff and all these clichés you've seen before.

'It's Two Movies'

TAPPER:
Has the studio put any pressure on you at all about the length of the movie? Because it's three hours, 15 minutes. It's long. It's a long movie.

TARANTINO:
Yes.

RODRIGUEZ:
Well, it's two movies.

TARANTINO:
It's two movies.

RODRIGUEZ:
Hey, you don't have to stay for both of them? One of them is bonus, you know.

TARANTINO:
Right.

RODRIGUEZ:
Go ahead and see one. Go get your money's worth with one movie and a few trailers, and if you want to walk out after that, that's fine. You can see the other one later, if you want. But I think most people are sitting there. They are going to just not want to leave.

TARANTINO:
Yes, I mean, the thing about it is if you're going to make an omelet, you've got to break a couple of eggs. If you're going to show two movies, you've got to show two movies.

That was one of the things we actually wanted to get across was the fact that -- I keep using this as an example like it's a bad movie, and I actually like this movie a lot -- but it is not "Twilight Zone, The Movie." We aren't just doing vignettes and it's this omnibus kind of thing. It's a double feature.

And I was the kind of stick-in-the-mud about it. "It's got to be a double feature. It's got to be two movies. I know that will work."

TAPPER:
But Hollywood studios want films to be 120 minutes long at the most, and preferably 80 or 90 minutes. Studios get concerned about films that are too long…

RODRIGUEZ:
Merely because amount of show times you can fit in a day is usually why they want to keep things shorter. But, nowadays, you can put so many prints out and anyone who wants to come see the movie will be able to find a screening…

TAPPER:
Somebody must have said, "Quentin, Robert, can't we trim this down to…"

TARANTINO:
Well, you know, they knew it…Look, of course, as little as it can be would obviously be optimal. But they knew they were making a double feature from the very first day. So they knew we'd be around this area -- no matter what we said -- we'd be around this area come this time.

RODRIGUEZ:
What we ended up with were two movies that are 85 minutes long. And I don't think you really find any features that are -- they are all so bloated. So, actually, we like how neat and trim ours are…Like rocket ships. They fly really fast.

TARANTINO:
It actually gave us an opportunity, which, you know, most directors don't want to take, which is to see if their material can still work if you cut it right to the bone. I mean, almost past the bone. Can it still work? Will it still play? Will people still care? How much do they actually need to know?

Because, you know, once you get to a certain place -- especially if you are a writer-director, it's like, you can do what you want. So, of course, you do what you want. And that's why everyone's movie is two hours and 15 minutes.

'If Anybody You Love Has Been Hurt In a Car Crash, You Should Not See 'Death Proof''

TAPPER:
What's your favorite part of "Death Proof"? What part are you proudest of within that film?

TARANTINO:
Gosh, it would be the car chase, because I feel that I pulled it off. It was one of those things where if I didn't pull it off, then I wouldn't officially know for myself that I'm not as good a filmmaker as I thought I was. So that was a big deal.

TAPPER:
You said you wanted it to be one of the top three car chases of all time.

TARANTINO:
Yes.

TAPPER:
Do you think you succeeded?

TARANTINO:
I hope so. It's more for you to tell me. But I think I'll know good after like the first couple of weekends when I've watched it with like eight-nine audiences, and then I'll know whether or not I did it or not.

TAPPER:
What would the list be? "Bullitt"? "French Connection"?

TARANTINO:
Almost the entire movie of "Vanishing Point," "Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry," the first "Mad Max." Walter Hilton's "The Driver." Those would be some of my favorites.

But before I did the car chase, the female characters in "Death Proof" -- I was very proud of their voice. I was very proud of their femininity, basically. I was quite happy with them, because, to me, they look and they sound like girls, and they look and sound like girls now, not remembering back what they used to look and sound like, but these are girls right here, right now.

TAPPER:
Technically, the car crash -- not to give too much away -- that's a pretty intense scene.

TARANTINO:
Oh, thank you.

TAPPER:
That's a pretty intense scene. That is a haunting scene. I would go so far as to say if anybody you love has been hurt in a car crash, you should not see "Death Proof."

TARANTINO:
I would actually say that, too, actually, and I've never put a caveat like that on my movies, you know. I think you're right about that, actually, yes.

RODRIGUEZ:
Or at least close your eyes.

TARANTINO:
Yes.

RODRIGUEZ:
That's a pretty long period.

TARANTINO:
Yes. Exactly.

You know, one of the things I'm really proud about that is a situation that I have done twice now, and so far has worked out well -- I'd write something down in the script, and literally have no idea how I can possibly accomplish this. It is beyond my realm of everything I know about filmmaking and special effects. And I'm not going to do it with CGI. So how do I do it?

It happened in "Kill Bill, Volume 2," when Uma had to dig her way through the earth and emerge. I didn't know how I was going to do that either, and just trusting that it's going to work out and knowing that you're going to have to figure out a new way to do it that's ever been done before. and then figuring it out and then looking at it and it looks good -- that's pretty gratifying.

'A Machine Gun Leg -- That's Going to Get Butts In Seats'

TAPPER:
Robert, a woman with a machine gun leg. How does that occur to somebody?

RODRIGUEZ:
It came in stages. First, she did lose her leg, and then I backtracked it, Rose McGowan, and talked to her about doing the character before I'd come up with the leg. She dances really well. So I can now make her a dancer to make it even more tragic when she loses her leg. And Rose has always been told she should be a standup comedian. So, "Oh, then I'll make you a standup comedian with no leg."

And then I thought, "Well, wait a minute. What would a trailer for 'Planet Terror' look like? I'm supposed to be making this exploitation movie, and most of the exploitation movies had a great trailer. They had a great poster image. Her with a stick leg? And zombies? People have seen that before." I was stuck in traffic. "I need an image. I need something -- " and, then, suddenly, I just pictured her kicking her leg around firing, launching herself over walls with a grenade launcher off her leg," and I go, "A machinegun leg. That's going to get butts in seats. And that will be an image that even if people never see 'Grindhouse,' they'll remember, 'Oh, "Grindhouse," that's the girl with the machinegun leg, huh?'"

I just thought it was a really sexy, dangerous, exploitation-like image, and done very raw. I mean, done like it would have done in the old days. It's not a "Terminator" leg. It's not a real fancy, high-tech leg. It's just a stump with an Ace bandage and a gun shoved in it. So it looks wrong, because it's on a beautiful girl. It just looks like it's half-assed done.

And when that came to me, I was able to write the rest of the script off that, knowing that she was somebody who had self doubts about herself and her relationship with her ex-boyfriend. He was going to turn her, with his belief in her, into something much bigger than she thought she could be, because she just has a really down-on-her-luck life.

TAPPER:
Something autobiographical in there?

RODRIGUEZ:
Absolutely. There is, actually. I won't say what.

TAPPER:
Are you proudest of that image, that concept?

RODRIGUEZ:
I'm very proud of that image, because it's been such a striking image. I mean, I ran into Neil Jordan and I said, "Oh, have you seen the trailer for my new movie, 'Grindhouse"? And he said, "No, I haven't." I go, "Oh, this is Rose McGowan. She's the girl with a machine gun leg." He said, "I've seen this image. That is one of the sexist images I've ever seen. It haunts me." I went like, "Wow, that's great." So I was very proud of that image, but also just the story, just the relationship of those two characters. That was what I focused on the most. That was more important to me than anything else.

The Art of Collaboration

TAPPER:
The relationship that you guys have seems unusual for Hollywood, because, usually, it is so competitive and people don't like collaborating. I know there have been experiences you both probably have had where work of yours was adopted and you weren't crazy about it. What is it about you two that you like to collaborate? Is it the fact that you just have similar roots in independent cinema, you're self-made and came up almost exactly at the same time?…This is your sixth collaboration, right? I mean, it's odd.

RODRIGUEZ:
One: I'm from Texas. We're a collaborative down there. That's why I did "Sin City" with Frank Miller. Got in trouble out here in Hollywood, actually. They sent me packing.

TARANTINO:
Out here in Hollywood…

RODRIGUEZ:
Had to take my horse and go back home.

TARANTINO:
Like a Louis L'Amour novel.

RODRIGUEZ:
But I wrangled Quentin down there and we rustled up a crew and…

TARANTINO:
He's my pahd-ner.

RODRIGUEZ:
But we have been friends since we met on the festival circuit in 1992, when I had done "El Mariachi" completely independently in Texas. And he did "Reservoir Dogs" completely independently, and both of them had guys in black going around shooting people, and&30133

TAPPER:
But there must have been an inherent competitiveness that would be there, and…

RODRIGUEZ:
It wasn't competitive at all.

TARANTINO:
It wasn't competitive at all.

RODRIGUEZ:
I couldn't believe the movie this guy made, and he was like my best friend instantly.

TARANTINO:
We were turned on by each other's work and each our similar interests. And I'm not really that competitive with any artist anyway, because it's like, I think I'm the man, and Robert knows he's the man. So what's to be competitive about? I'm actually excited by it; I want there to be directors out there that turn me on. I want to be excited about somebody's next movie and can't wait to see it and go see it first day, because I just can't live until I see it. That brings joy to my life to actually have that kind of excitement about somebody.

But, everything you said about -- Is it this? Is it that? Is it this? -- it was all those reasons that you said about why me and Robert are friends. But the bottom line is if I never made a movie in my life and Robert never made a movie in his life, we'd be as good friends -- if we had met each other -- as we are now. If I met him in elementary school, we'd be best friends. You know, that is part of it, but the big part of it is I'm Quentin and he's Robert, and we like each other.

RODRIGUEZ:
We like each other. I was really excited when he was telling me stuff he was going to be doing in his script and -- competitive -- we are only making it better for ourselves.

I mean, I'm trying to do my best movie. He's trying to do his best movie. And when he told me what he's up to, I'd get excited about that. When I'd show him what I was up to, he'd get excited about that. So you kind of cheer each other on, and, in the end, it's just going to make the movie better.

TARANTINO:
The only time I have ever gotten competitive with Robert was when he was coming out with "Once Upon A Time in Mexico," and I was coming out with "Kill Bill, Volume 1," and it was within a three-month period. Yes.

RODRIGUEZ:
Within a month of each other.

TARANTINO:
Yes, it was within a month of each other. And what did you make, like $26 million or $27 million?

RODRIGUEZ:
We opened up -- Yes, something like that.

TARANTINO:
Yes, it was really good. I wanted to&30133I made $22 million. I didn't even come close.

Favorite Films

TAPPER:
What is your favorite Rodriguez movie?

TARANTINO:
Oh, that's a good question. Gosh.

TAPPER:
You have to give me one.

TARANTINO:
Yes. Yes. Yes.

TAPPER:
Don't list them all.

TARANTINO:
No, no. If I was going to actually put it right under a big, giant microscope, I would definitely say my favorite piece of filmmaking of his is the whole Mickey Rourke section of "Sin City," just that section right there. And then the other greatest cinematic thing that he has done is the whole opening set piece that starts "Spy Kids." That whole opening sequence where you see how the parents met each other and fell in love…

TAPPER:
What is your favorite Tarantino movie?

RODRIGUEZ:
I think, for me, it is not really the movie itself. It is, but it's just how everything just came together for me at that point in my life. I had just made "El Mariachi." I was at the film festival. I knew I was going to meet this guy. He had some crazy new movie, and I saw "Reservoir Dogs" for the first time. I just bought it last night -- I was at Virgin and they had a blue-ray HD DVD version of it. I bought it there. I wanted the cleanest version possible, just to remember that time period -- That might be my favorite…"Reservoir Dogs."

'I Scared the Hell Out of You'

TAPPER:
You can't talk about your movies without talking about violence in the movies. And it's funny, because --

RODRIGUEZ:
Except for my "Spy Kids" movies…

TAPPER:
Except for the "Spy Kids" movie…But, in general. And the "Grindhouse" movie -- very, very violent, intentionally so. When I saw "Reservoir Dogs," I was pretty stunned by the violence. Horror director Wes Craven walked out of "Reservoir Dogs."

TARANTINO:
Yes, at a film festival in Spain.

TAPPER:
Craven later said he walked out because he felt like you were enjoying the torture and that human suffering was being trivialized. But looking back on it now, from the perspective of 2007, it is not that violent.

TARANTINO:
Well, it really wasn't that violent then either, as far as like what you see as far as on-screen gore. I always actually took it as an incredible compliment, because I know I didn't really show that much. So the fact that I was freaking people out, and people were passing out, and people were leaving the theater -- that was good filmmaking. I didn't show you anything, and I scared the hell out of you.

Brian DePalma always used to say something that was one of his stock-in-trade answers, but it was a really good answer. He said that if you direct violence, you get penalized for doing a good job. Because hacks never get bothered with this question, because their stuff has no effect. But when you actually get to people, then you actually get put under the microscope a little bit more.

TAPPER:
I guess what I'm saying is the evolution of violence just since 1992, in film -- it's huge, especially just in the last few years. Do you think that all the violence in film today is a good thing for society? Have you ever considered that it's part of a problem?

RODRIGUEZ:
This just really comes in waves…look at movies in the '80s. Those movies are extremely violent…and then it went down for a number of years, but then when it resurged again in the early '90s, it became an issue again. And I think it comes up in waves. And this horror wave, like you were saying, remember, people didn't want you to call a movie a horror movie.

TARANTINO:
Yes, when we did "From Dusk Til Dawn" (in 1996), I couldn't call it a horror movie, even though it was, because people were scared of horror films. And all the horror fans -- everyone stayed away. We had to call it a roller-coaster ride.

RODRIGUEZ:
But now over the past couple of years, horror films have suddenly sprung up. Now, people are trumpeting, "We have a horror film and it's unrated and it's brutal and it's…"

TARANTINO:
And we love horror movies. I mean, it's always been the fact that horror films have always kind of been under a dark cloud, and the filmmakers couldn't really fulfill their visions. A lot of them lead to the extreme -- it's that kind of genre. All right? It's like complaining about horses in a Western. It's a Western. You've got to have some horses. I don't care if you're allergic. Don't watch it.

But the thing is now, all of a sudden, all those things that are in the horror films -- if you tried to do them before, it was like, "Oh, that's what will make it not commercial. That'll make it just sort of small, little audience, and it'll scare everybody off and freak everybody out." Now, all of a sudden, they're being embraced. So, to me, it's like a renaissance for horror cinema right now that it's this exciting little thing.

And it didn't start here. It started in Japan. It started six years ago with these violent J-horror movies is what they called them. With directors like Takashi Miike. Per usual, it took Hollywood six years to be infected by it. But what basically happened is these directors now, like Eli Roth and all these guys that they call part of the Splat Pack, they watched these like kind of snuffy Japanese horror movies over the years and they wanted to make their own versions, and that's what we are seeing now.

TAPPER:
But do you think it's a good thing?

RODRIGUEZ:
We're responding to what people actually want. If nobody went to see them, they wouldn't be making more of them. So it's really a matter of, why is the audience's taste like that right now? What is it that makes them want this very extreme escapism? Is it the times that we're in right now? It might be that. Because it does come in waves. There are times when they just don't want anything like that, and then, other times, when it is voraciously taken in.

'There's Nothing You Can Do Wrong In A Movie'

TARANTINO:
I personally think it's a very good thing. And the reason I think it's a good thing is, to me, it's just aesthetic. It's not a question of society. There's nothing you can do wrong in a movie. It's like there's nothing you can do wrong in a painting or wrong in a song. You can do it badly. You can do it well. Violence is green, all right? And I'm a painter, and, you know, musicals are red and something else is blue. And it's one of my colors.

TAPPER:
Right now, the government is taking a hard look at how movies are marketed to kids, the fact that a lot of horror movies, like the SAW films are getting into the hands of people under the age of 15, through the Internet or DVDs. Is that a concern to you as filmmakers that the government is taking a look at your work?

TARANTINO:
Well, what does that mean, though? They're taking a look at our work, what does that mean?

TAPPER:
Well, that there is a concern about the marketing of violent movies to kids. "Grindhouse" is rated R, and nobody under 17 is supposed to be admitted without an adult. But, in this new era of films and bootlegs and Internet and DVDs, a lot of kids will see these movies. That obviously had an effect on you as a kid. It made you want to be a filmmaker.

TARANTINO:
Oh, I know. Yes…everything you're talking about, whenever it's described as a worst-case scenario, it's like, "Well, that's my life, and I'm doing pretty good."

TAPPER:
But certainly not every child who watches these movies is going to end up as successful and talented as you.

TARANTINO:
But everything that is supposed to be a fate worse than death has actually been fantastic for me, and I had a good time when I was a kid watching these movies.

I have a little joke, but it actually is kind of true, that kids who watch violent movies -- again, who like them, not that you force them -- but if the kids will respond to that naturally, it won't make them a violent human being when they grow up, but it could very well make them violent filmmakers when they grow up.

RODRIGUEZ:
And it's really considered a rite of passage for some kids to watch some of these movies, like, "Can you take it?" You know, egged on by their friends. And some kids don't want to watch that stuff. They're not ready. I mean, I felt I was ready, around 12 years old is when I first saw these movies, and it made me want to be creative. It didn't make me want to go kill people. It actually made me go, "How did they do that? How did they get that --"

TARANTINO:
"How did that head explode? Whoa. What was that?" And then that is why you have all these 12-year-old kids and they're doing -- they all want to be little Tom Savinis, and they've got their makeup kits and they're putting scars on their face and tumors and learning how to blow up a melon and make it look like a witch head.

And they actually see it in the right way. It's not the way everybody's feeling, but my feeling is -- say something like "Grindhouse" is an example, anywhere from 12 up, if the kid wants to see the movie, he could probably handle it. If he doesn't want to see it, then whatever. But if he actually wants to see it -- or she wants to see it -- they can probably handle it. But that's up to the parent.

TAPPER:
But the Motion Picture Association says 17 and over.

TARANTINO:
No, they don't. OK? You can take a six-year-old kid to see "Grindhouse," if the parent takes them to the theater.

TAPPER:
If the parent takes them.

TARANTINO:
Yes.

RODRIGUEZ:
No one under 17 admitted without a parent. And they've started being more strict about that -- when was it? About five, six years ago?

TARANTINO:
They were always strict about that when I was a kid.

RODRIGUEZ:
Well, even more so. They've been more strict about it recently…You have to show an ID now and --

TARANTINO:
And not only that. They were always pretty tough about it, a 17-year-old babysitter couldn't take me to see an R-rated movie. It had to be an adult.

RODRIGUEZ:
I know they've been looking at how the advertising is being aimed in areas that kids could see things. And I know they've changed that. So, unless they're going back and looking at it again, I know that it was really effective when they did it the first time, which was a few years ago.

TARANTINO:
But the real reality is, look, we're talking about cool, sensationalistic movies, and a lot of kids like that stuff. I know I did. I responded to those posters. I responded to those ads in the newspaper, and if that was now, I'd be responding to that stuff on the Internet and the TV spot. "Well, that looks cool."

Maybe the ads aren't aimed towards kids, but after that opening weekend is over and they go back to school and they're on the playground and one of the kids saw it, "Man, you saw 'Planet Terror.' There's a scene where the helicopter cuts up the zombies." "Really? Oh, man, I've got to see that." You know, I just think that's groovy.

RODRIGUEZ:
I reacted really strongly back after I had done "Desperado." Some parent came up to me and said, "Oh, my kid loves your movie, 'Desperado.' They love it." I was like, "Oh, that's great. How old's your kid?" Said, "Well, he's almost seven." I was just like -- They're not supposed to see that.

And I thought, oh, I can see why they would like it, because of the action. But I thought if the parent is going to be that irresponsible to show something like that, maybe I should just make something like that for kids, something that has that kind of action, where they have those heroics and you have action sequences that get them dreaming about that sort of thing.

So I made "Spy Kids" because of that. And we made a series of them, because they were successful. Empower kids and give them really cool action sequences. And then I'm off the hook from parents coming up to me and saying those things. "Don't show them 'Desperado.' Show them 'Spy Kids.'"

TAPPER:
Has being a father made you even more responsible to these kinds of criticisms?

RODRIGUEZ:
I've been a father as long as I've been a filmmaker, practically. And I'm from a family of 10 kids. But I've always thought, when I was making these movies, they're R-rated movies. I never tried to squeeze a PG-13 out of them. I knew that they were for an adult audience or any kids around the age of 14 to 15, if the parents wanted to take them. But when it started being just a spillover, that little kids were just seeing it, because their parents just liked the movie themselves and thought, "Oh, Junior's there. He'll like it, too, because it's got action," I decided to start making some other types of movies as well.

Click here to continue reading the transcript of Jake Tapper's interview with Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino, plus his interview with "Grindhouse" star Kurt Russell.

Click here to visit the "Grindhouse" Web site (viewer discretion advised).

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