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Exclusive Interview – Robert Rodriguez on ALITA BATTLE ANGEL

In ALITA BATTLE ANGEL (In theaters February 14, 2019), set several centuries in the future, the abandoned Alita is found in the scrapyard of Iron City by Ido, a compassionate cyber-doctor who takes the unconscious cyborg Alita to his clinic. When Alita awakens, she has no memory of who she is, nor does she have any recognition of the world she finds herself in. As Alita learns to navigate her new life and the treacherous streets of Iron City, Ido tries to shield her from her mysterious past.

We had a chance to to interview direct Robert Rodriguez about creating the film.

Nuke The Fridge: This is a great movie. A lot of the Manga fans are really, really satisfied with how it turned out. Could you talk a little bit about when you got introduced to this particular story and Anime?

ROBERT RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, man, believe it or not, it’s been almost 20 years in the making. Jim Cameron first got the rights to it in 1999 for himself to direct. He wrote a script that he was almost prepared to make in 2005, but then he got sidetracked with Avatar and then when that became the biggest movie of all time, he concentrated on other directors for the project. I’ve been friends with Jim for over 20 years. When I asked him about it just as a fan, he said HE would never get a chance to make it. So he gave me the script. I checked it out and loved it. I can see why you liked it because it has the spectacle of a big Jim Cameron film. But it had a lot of heart and a lot of a story that can play to people even beyond the Manga and Anime fans. And play worldwide like big movies. So I got really into the idea of making it with him and learning how to make a movie on the complete global scale like this, which is just really big entertainment for all audiences. That’s why it’s been a long journey. But it’s finally here.

Nuke The Fridge: The film inspired me to buy Volume One of the Manga. It’s pretty badass man. I LOVE IT! Do you think people are going to get more into this genre?

 RODRIGUEZ: Oh yeah, I think people will be inspired to look up more. I mean it’s such a sprawling Manga for sure. It’s a genre that’s been hard to crack for movies because the monitor there are so very dense. But if you can tap into the universal story, which is what Yukito Kishiro did when he wrote the book, I think it can appeal to lots of people

Nuke The Fridge: How important was it to satisfy the fandom?

RODRIGUEZ: We stayed pretty true to the material. But this given, we needed to take his books, which were really sprawling and create a story that was more cinematic. A story  that would play to a larger audience. So we took a lot of liberties with the story. But it’s very true to the spirit of the Manga. It feels very authentic. You know, fans are already saying it’s the best Manga adaptation in history because it really is the most faithful to the spirit yet. A lot of the details from the graphic novels are in there. So it’s still very, very true, but we actually, took some license to make it even a bigger story.

Nuke The Fridge: How was it working with Junkie XL?

RODRIGUEZ: I heard his music in “Fury Road” and I thought that I really wanted to work with him. He was just terrific. He’s really creative. He came up with the themes right away, came back and started working on the scenes and that was the first thing. He cracked it and you could just tell it was going to be a great, great story.

Nuke The Fridge: I love your music. I know that you’re a good musician. Did you create any tracks in the background? Because I thought I heard you on the guitar.

RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, a couple of scenes. There’s a scene early on where you hear me. You can also see a guitar player in the street playing music with three hands, but then also in the bar fight. All the music inside the bar is me.

Nuke The Fridge: Does Music help you as a director?

RODRIGUEZ: Yeah. It helps you because it gives you another way into a character sometimes. If I have trouble finding a character, I can find it through music sometimes. And also playing the guitar on the set when it’s all green screen. Some actors really find it helpful when you can play music for them.

Nuke The Fridge: Do you find that people are aware that you’re a musician or do they only know you as a director?

RODRIGUEZ: I don’t know. I don’t know how many people would know. I mean, I think people don’t always pay attention to credits and stuff when they see who does the score and things like that. Or I tell people that I have a band sometimes they are surprised.