After launching his own table of unique, original film worlds – the "From Dusk Till Dawn," "Desperado," "Spy Kids" and "Machete,” among them – maverick filmmaker Robert Rodriguez is ready to make a beloved existing property his own.
As announced in May, Rodriguez plans to helm a big-screen adaptation of "Jonny Quest," the classic 1964 animated series, produced by Hanna-Barbera and designed by comic book artist Doug Wildey. When the director attended the Television Critics Association summer press tour to promote his El Rey television network and his series "From Dusk Till Dawn" and "The Director's Chair," Spinoff Online joined a handful of other journalists for an informal chat about "Johnny Quest" and some Rodriguez’s other film plans.
What was it about “Jonny Quest” that made you come back to a studio-owned property after so many years creating your own material?
Robert Rodriguez: There are just so few properties that are interesting. I've always wanted to do one because you learn a lot. If you're doing just your own thing, all the time, doing a studio project like that, you would learn something that you would bring back to something that you do on a smaller scale. You have a bigger budget than I would normally work with. I was always kind of looking for a franchise.
And I knew [producer] Dan Lin a long time – he did "LEGO Movie." He was a producer, he did a movie with me called "Shorts," and years and years ago, he brought me "Jonny Quest" and he said, "I have that 'Jonny Quest.'" I was like, "Ah, you know – I own my series, the 'Spy Kids' movies." And then once those played out, he came back again recently and said, "What about 'Jonny Quest'?" And I'm still a huge "Jonny Quest" fan. My kids still watch "Jonny Quest." And I thought, you know what? I think my kids would be – they're still so into it. I turned them onto it when they were little. Now, they're like 17, 18, and, like, 12 years old. They still love it.
And I thought, that would be really cool to do a legitimate action-adventure film that just happens to have a kid in it. Not a kids' film, but actually – "Spy Kids" was more like a kids' film – this is more like an action-adventure film. So that's what the original series was like. It was a hard-hitting, kick-ass adventure series. So that's kind of what enticed me to go do it is my own series had already played out. That was a cool property still that the studio had, and I thought I would go see what they thought of it, and they were really into it.
How do you see yourself putting your particular flavor on "Jonny Quest," because that got a strong sense of its own style, and you've got your recognizable sense of style?
It would be different from anything that I've done. I've never done anything that wasn't either, like, really small, little kid-type movie, and more violent, like, action films, so this would be like doing a James Bond or Indiana Jones movie. But imagine that you're a kid and James Bond is your bodyguard, and your dad is Indiana Jones. It's like one of those movies, and you just happen to be in it. That's what I would do with it.
With this on the horizon, when are you doing "Fire and Ice"?
"Fire and Ice" might be going at the same time. "Fire and Ice" is also being turned into the studio at the same time. I'm not sure which one's going to go first.
Have you mastered the technique to bring the Frazetta images to life? Do you have a cool, visual, cinematic way to do it?
I've got a cool way to do it. We're still working on exactly how to do the whole thing, but we've always done stuff that's pretty unique.