Robert Rodriguez Talks Tacos, Machetes … and Lohan

The director's hosting a street party in San Diego in honor of his new grindhouse project

Robert Rodriguez's relationship with Comic-Con is simple and direct. “This,” says the director, “is my audience and my crowd."

Down in San Diego for a street party and taco fest Thursday night for his upcoming grindhouse homage, "Machete," which comes out Sept. 3, Rodriguez talked to TheWrap about the fans and the frenzy of Comic-Con, casting Robert De Niro, working with Lindsay Lohan and a potential "Machete" franchise.

What is Comic-Con about for you, and what is Comic-Con 2010 about for "Machete"?
For me, it started with "Sin City" back in 2004. That movie, made from Frank Miller's graphic novel, was a real mix of what Comic-Con is all about. We came down guerilla style, we made special posters, we gave a sneak preview and it was great. I knew it was working when Jessica Alba's posters made were on eBay selling for hundreds of dollars a couple of hours later.

This year, we decided to break through the noise again — but with the taco van and a party in the street. Seemed very "Machete" to me. And some of the tacos will have the equivalent of a golden ticket so people can get into see the preview clips and the DJ party afterwards. But it's a real street party, so even if you don' get into that, you'll still be a part of what's going on.

Why do you think the fanboys gravitate towards you and your movies?
They know that I'm like them and I like a lot of the same stuff they do. I walk down the street here and people come up to me to sign stuff from "Dusk Till Dawn," "Desperado," "Sin City" and "Spy Kids." They have whole collections, and I really appreciate that.

I think they understand the kind of movies I make, and because I can get financing from independent sources I can kinda make the movies I want. They are popular films, but they are fundamentally independent.

How do you think “Machete” will do when it opens in September?
I think it will fair well. You know, "Once Upon a Time in Mexico" came out around that time in 2003 and it did well.  And because it’s a holiday weekend and if you do want to go to the movies, then you've got to see "Machete” cause its the only thing out that weekend.

From Robert De Niro, to Don Johnson, Steven Seagal, Cheech Martin, Jessica Alba, Lindsay Lohan and leading man Danny Trejo, you've packed a lot of varied talent into "Machete." You did a similar thing on "Once Upon a Time in Mexico" and "Sin City." What's the thinking behind the approach?
It's all about how do all these pieces fit together. That and the script. When you see them in the character roles, you see they all fit in really well.

De Niro was the first one I cast and then other actors flocked to be in it cause they want to be in De Niro film right? Also everyone was really happy to see Danny, who they've all worked with before, front and center.

There was some speculation that Lindsay Lohan wasn't featured in the latest trailer because of her legal issues. That the case?
No, she's great in the movie and I think we are going to include her more in the next trailer. It seemed too exploitive to use her with everything that was going on. But also, as a filmmaker, part of me doesn't want to give too much of her in the movie away. I'll say this — she starts as one character and ends as someone else.

Could "Machete" become a franchise?
It easily could, He could just ride off town to town as a legend. I don't know but I've always said we need to make at least two more — "Machete Kills" and "Machete Kills Again."

Besides the taco party, are you going to hang around Comic-Con?
I wish, but I got to fly back to L.A. We're in such a crunch to finish “Machete.” With stuff like color correction and everything else, I unfortunately don't get to hang around this year, which is a drag cause Comic-Con is great.