Robert Rodriguez has long been known for having certain eccentricities, the least of which being his habit of never appearing in public without something on his head. There also is the
matter of his self containment. He makes movies deep in the heart of Texas using his own private studios and handling most of the behind-the-camera chores himself — from writing and directing to
scoring and editing to doing his own camera work and devising digital special effects.
When Grindhouse came out last spring, cast members spoke of the way Rodriguez would do rough edits on his laptop while waiting for his crew to set up the next shot for Planet Terror, his half of
the gimmicky ode to schlocky horror films that Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino made together.
When he wasn't doing that, he was playing his guitar, which is rarely far from his side, though Rose McGowan says the guitar-playing wasn't the sign of laid-back cool other cast members thought
it was: He played it to relax when he got frustrated on the set, she says. (McGowan should know, seeing as how she and Rodriguez became particularly close during the production. When the
then-married Rodriguez wasn't editing or making music between shooting scenes, he often would enjoy long private "lunches" with McGowan in his trailer, reportedly. Playing guitar apparently
wasn't enough of a stress reliever).
What no one in the cast mentioned until now was the unusual after-hours routine he led cast members in.
"We were filming 14-15 hours a day, then we'd go on and paint for another two or three hours,'' says Josh Brolin, who played a demented doctor in the film, "then we'd go eat, then we'd (paint)
His response: "Er, come again?"
"We did these great paintings of our own characters," Brolin explained.
George Yepes, a painter and a friend of Rodriguez, took photographs of the actors' faces, Brolin says. "He would outline the paintings. We would come in and do the fill-ins.
Then (Yepes and Rodriguez) would do one layer. Then we'd come in and do another layer after it dried. Then Robert would do another layer and some of his own stuff. Then George would come in and
do some of his own stuff. They gave us those paintings as wrap gifts.'"
At least, theoretically they received the paintings as wrap gifts.
"I haven't gotten mine yet, even though he gave it to me,'" Brolin says. "I just wrote to him... and I was like, `Where the (expletive) is my painting?' And he goes, `I like
your painting too much. I'll give it to you, but I'm having a tough time letting it go.'
"It's a great painting," Brolin continues, exuding no small trace of pride. "It's a really good painting."