Michael Parks, a character actor who enjoyed a career renaissance in recent decades thanks to high profile roles in films by Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez and Kevin Smith, died Wednesday at the age of 77.
Parks made his acting debut in a small role in 1961 on the sitcom The Real McCoys, and, racked up dozens of roles on both television and feature films, most notably as the casino owner and drug runner Jean Renault on the second season of Twin Peaks.
After years playing bit roles in made-for-TV movies, Westerns and slasher films, Parks was cast as Texas Ranger Earl McGraw in Rodriguez’ 1996 vampire flick From Dusk ’til Dawn. Quentin Tarantino, an associate of Rodriguez’, then cast Parks in a dual role for Kill Bill: Volume 1 and Volume 2; in the former, he reprised the McGraw role, while the latter found the actor playing Mexican pimp Esteban Vihaio.
Parks would portray McGraw once more for Tarantino and Rodriguez in the directors’ Grindhouse films. Tarantino also recruited Parks for a small role in Django Unchained.
Parks’ career revival also resulted in roles in Ben Affleck’s Argo, The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford and a pair of Kevin Smith horror flicks, Red State and Tusk.
“Michael was, and will likely forever remain, the best actor I’ve ever known. I wrote both [Red State] and [Tusk] FOR Parks, I loved his acting so much,” Smith posted on Wednesday. “He was, hands-down, the most incredible thespian I ever had the pleasure to watch perform. And Parks brought out the absolute best in me every time he got near my set.”
At the time of his death, Parks was cast in the upcoming Christian Bale film Hostiles.
Robert Anthony Rodríguez (born June 20, 1968) is an American film director, screenwriter, producer, cinematographer, editor and musician. He shoots and produces many of his films in his native Texas and Mexico.
Rodríguez was born in San Antonio, Texas, the son of Mexican-American parents Rebecca (née Villegas), a nurse, and Cecilio G. Rodríguez, a salesman. He began his interest in film at age 11 when his father bought one of the first VCR’s, which came with a camera. Rodríguez grew up shooting action and horror short films on video, and editing on two VCRs. Finally, in the fall of 1990, his entry in a local film contest earned him a spot in the university’s film program where he made the award-winning 16 mm short Bedhead.
This short film attracted enough attention to encourage him to seriously attempt a career as a filmmaker. He went on to shoot the action flick El Mariachi in Spanish. El Mariachi, which was shot for around $7,000 with money raised by his friend Carlos Gallardo and participating in medical research studies, won the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival in 1993. The film, originally intended for the Spanish-language low-budget home-video market, was “cleaned up” with several hundred thousand dollars before being distributed by Columbia Pictures, while still being promoted as “the movie made for $7,000”.
His next feature film was Roadracers, a 1994 made-for-television film. The film originally aired on the Showtime Network as part of their Rebel Highway series that took the titles of 1950s-era B-movies and applied them to original films starring up-and-coming actors of the 1990s and directed by established directors such as William Friedkin, Joe Dante, and Ralph Bakshi. Rodriguez was the only young director to participate in the series.
His next film and first major release was Desperado (1995), a sequel to El Mariachi starring Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek in their first American roles. Rodríguez went on to collaborate with Quentin Tarantino on Four Rooms, a 1995 anthology comedy telling four stories set in the fictional Hotel Mon Signor in Los Angeles on New Years Eve. Tim Roth stars as the main character of the frame tale; he also appears to some degree in all four stories. The movie was directed by Allison Anders, Alexandre Rockwell, Rodriguez and Tarantino with each of them directing one “room” of the film.
Rodriguez continued his work with Tarantino, a partnership that thrives to this day, on the vampire thriller, From Dusk Till Dawn (1996). The film was followed by two direct-to-video follow-ups, a sequel, From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money and a prequel, From Dusk Till Dawn 3: The Hangman’s Daughter (1999). They were both received poorly by critics. Danny Trejo is the only actor to appear in all three. Rodriguez, Tarantino and Lawrence Bender served as producers on all three movies.
He followed up with the science fiction horror film, The Faculty (1998), written by Kevin Williamson (Scream 1 and 2). Then in 2001, Rodríguez enjoyed his first $100,000,000 (USD) Hollywood hit with Spy Kids, which went on to become a 4-movie franchise. A third “mariachi” film also appeared in late 2003, Once Upon a Time in Mexico which completed the Mariachi Trilogy.
2005 was the year that he broke through to a wider market with his adaptation of the Frank Miller graphic novels series Sin City. Rodríguez insisted that Frank Miller direct the film with him because he considered the visual style of Miller’s comic art to be just as important as his own in the film. However, the Directors Guild of America would not allow it, Rodríguez chose to resign from the DGA, stating, “It was easier for me to quietly resign before shooting because otherwise I’d be forced to make compromises I was unwilling to make or set a precedent that might hurt the guild later on.” By resigning from the DGA, Rodríguez was forced to relinquish his director’s seat on the film John Carter (an lucky break!).
Sin City was a critical hit in 2005 as well as a box office success, particularly for a hyperviolent comic book adaptation that did not have name recognition comparable to the X-Men or Spider-Man. He has stated that he is interested in eventually adapting all of Miller’s Sin City comic books, and Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is currently in production.
Rodríguez also released The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl in 2005, a superhero-kid movie intended for the same younger audiences as his Spy Kids series. However, the film was not a major success.
Rodriguez wrote and directed the film Planet Terror for the collaboration with Quentin Tarantino in their double feature Grindhouse (2007). This film was a throwback to the Grindhouse exploitation cinema of the late 6o’s and 70’s.
In 2009 he released Shorts a family comedy adventure in keeping with his Spy Kids style. In 2010 he produced Predators and directed Machete an expansion of a fake trailer Rodriguez directed for the 2007 film Grindhouse. It starred Danny Trejo as the title character. Trejo, Rodriquez’ 2nd cousin, has worked with him on Desperado, From Dusk Till Dawn, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, and Spy Kids, where Trejo’s character was also known as Machete.
He operates a production company called Troublemaker Studios, formerly Los Hooligans Productions. Rodríguez not only has the unusual credits of producing, directing and writing his films, he also frequently serves as editor, director of photography, camera operator, steadicam operator, composer, production designer, visual effects supervisor, and sound editor on his films. This has earned him the nickname of “the one-man film crew.” He calls his style of making movies “Mariachi-style”
Dan “Danny” Trejo (born May 16, 1944) is an American actor of Mexican descent who has appeared in numerous Hollywood films, most notably in “tough guy” roles as a villain, thug or lowlife characters, although he has also played protagonists in films such as Robert Rodriguez’s Spy Kids trilogy.
Born Dan Trejo in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, Trejo is the son of Alice Rivera and Dan Trejo, a construction worker. He is a second cousin of filmmaker Robert Rodriguez, though the two were unaware that they were related until the filming of Desperado. As a youth, he roamed the streets around his home area, committing various petty crimes with his uncle, and eventually became addicted to heroin.
While on the streets, Trejo developed talent as a boxer and considered taking it up as a profession. That ambition was dashed by a lengthy prison sentence. He served 11 years for drug and robbery charges in the Holmesburg Prison. While in Holmesburg, he became the Pennsylvania state prison champion in both the lightweight and welterweight divisions. During this time Trejo became a member of a twelve-step program which he credits with his success in overcoming drug addiction. He also served time in Folsom State Prison. Trejo was released in 1972.
While speaking at a recovery meeting in Los Angeles, Trejo met a young man in the movie business. His newfound friend invited him to the set of Runaway Train where Trejo was offered a job as an extra in the film’s prison scenes. Edward Bunker, himself a former convict and well-respected crime author who was writing the screenplay for the film, recognized Trejo, with whom he had done time at San Quentin. Bunker remembered Trejo’s boxing skills, and offered him $320 per day to train Eric Roberts, one of the movie’s stars, for a boxing scene. Director Andrei Konchalovsky liked Trejo’s work and decided to offer him a prominent role in the film.
Since then, Trejo has become a prolific actor in both films and television. Trejo has often appeared in five or more movies per year in various genres. Major releases in which he has acted include Blood In Blood Out, Animal Factory, Bubble Boy, Anaconda, Marked for death, xXx, Desperado, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Heat, From Dusk till Dawn, Con Air, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Predators, The Devil’s Rejects, Grindhouse, Rob Zombie’s Halloween, Snoop Dogg’s Hood of Horror and a guest role in the superlative Breaking Bad.
Trejo is known for his very distinctive appearance. In addition to his heavily lined face (usually sporting a long mustache), he has displayed the large tattoo on his chest for many roles (the tattoo depicts a woman wearing a sombrero). Many of Trejo’s characters in Robert Rodriguez movies have been named after knives or sharp instruments: Machete in Spy Kids, Razor Eddie in the From Dusk till Dawn series, Navajas (Spanish for blades) in Desperado, and Cuchillo (Spanish for knife) in Predators. He also plays Machete in a trailer made for Rodriguez’s film collaboration with Quentin Tarantino, Grindhouse. In 2010, he starred in a full theatrical version of Machete, based on the character.
The award-winning independent film, Champion was released in 2005, documenting Trejo’s life. Trejo has said that he is amazed when he walks the streets where he used to commit crimes and children ask him for autographs. He also pointed out that he often chooses to play bad guys to teach younger audiences that bad guys often die or go to prison, and that one should try to live a decent life.
His next major release will be a sequel to the surprise hit, Machete, entitled Machete Kills. The movie features another array of big names to rival those from the first, Mel Gibson, Amber Heard, Sofia Vergara, as well as returning cast members Jessica Alba, Michelle Rodriguez and Tom Savini there is also a rumout that Tony Jaa has a cameo. The movie is due out early next year.
Harvey Keitel (born May 13, 1939) is an American actor. Some of his most notable starring roles were in Martin Scorsese’s Mean Streets and Taxi Driver, Ridley Scott’s The Duellists and Thelma & Louise, Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, Jane Campion’s The Piano, Abel Ferrara’s Bad Lieutenant, James Mangold’s Cop Land, and Nicolas Roeg’s Bad Timing.
Keitel grew up in the Brighton Beach section of Brooklyn, with his sister, Renee, and brother, Jerry. At the age of sixteen, he decided to join the United States Marine Corps, a decision that took him to Lebanon, during Operation Blue Hat (to bolster the pro-Western Lebanese government of President Camille Chamoun against internal opposition and threats from Syria and Egypt). After his return to the United States, he was a court reporter for several years and was able to support himself before beginning his acting career.
Keitel studied under both Stella Adler and Lee Strasberg, eventually landing roles in Off-Broadway productions. During this time, Keitel auditioned for filmmaker Martin Scorsese and gained a part in Scorsese’s student production, Who’s That Knocking at My Door? Since then, Scorsese and Keitel have worked together on several projects. Keitel had the starring role in Scorsese’s Mean Streets, which also proved to be Robert De Niro’s breakthrough film. He later appeared with De Niro in Taxi Driver, playing the role of Jodie Foster’s pimp ‘Sport’.
Originally cast as Captain Willard in Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now, Keitel was involved with the first week of principal photography in the Philippines. Coppola was not happy with Keitel’s take on Willard, stating that the actor “found it difficult to play him a passive onlooker”. After viewing the first week’s footage, Coppola made the difficult decision to replace Keitel with a casting session favourite, Martin Sheen.
Keitel drifted into obscurity through most of the 1980s, taking mainly supporting roles in some good movies such as Bad Timing (1981) by Nicolas Roeg, The Border (1982) by Tony Richardson and Falling in Love (1984) with Robert De Niro and Meryl Streep. He continued to do work on both stage and screen, but usually in the stereotypical thug roles. In 1987 he again worked with Scorsese as Judas in The Last Temptation of Christ (1988). Another supporting role to Jack Nicolson in The Two Jakes (1990) before Ridley Scott cast Keitel as the sympathetic policeman in Thelma & Louise in 1991. That same year, he landed a role in Bugsy, for which he received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
Keitel’s career revival continued when he starred in Quentin Tarantino’s debut Reservoir Dogs (which he co-produced) in 1992, where his performance as “Mr. White” took his career to a different level. Since then, Keitel has chosen his roles with care, seeking to change his image and show off a broader acting range. One of those roles was the title character in Abel Ferarra’s Bad Lieutenant (1992), about a self-loathing, drug- addicted police lieutenant trying to redeem himself. He also appeared in the movie The Piano in 1993, and played an efficient clean-up expert Winston “The Wolf” Wolfe in Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction (1994).
Keitel was back in a big way, he starred in Smoke and Clockers (both 1995), then in 1996 he had a major role in Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’s film, From Dusk Till Dawn, as the religious father of two, whose camper van is hijacked by Seth (George Clooney) and his twisted brother Richard (Quentin Tarantino). In 1997 he starred in the excellent crime drama Cop Land, which also starred Sylvester Stallone, Ray Liotta, and long-time collaborator Robert De Niro.
He’s been incredibly busy through the last decade, featuring in a lot of movies… can someone please give him another gritty leading role to get his teeth in to..?
Actor, director, stuntman, make up artist and all-round legend. Vanguard Cinema is proud to present an intimate evening with one of film’s greatest living treasures. Known for his ground breaking make-up work on Friday the 13th, Creepshow, and the George A. Romero Living Dead films, he has more recently been seen acting in films including From Dusk Till Dawn, Planet Terror and Machete.
This evening is for all fans of film, with a screening of some of his work, followed by a Q & A with Tom.
Going to see Tom Savini tonight, full review/transcript/article asap… Can’t wait!