Movie Article

Robert's Rules

Robert Rodriguez makes comic book series his own - The director wrangled Bruce Willis for a ride through ''Sin City''

In Sin City, the rotten comic-book noir-opolis created by writer-artist Frank Miller, rules (and bones) are made to be broken. Director Robert Rodriguez is rebelling appropriately with Sin City, his adaptation of three of Miller's beloved graphic novels: Sin City, The Big Fat Kill, and That Yellow Bastard. He's enlisted Miller as codirector -- which has gotten Rodriguez in trouble with the Directors Guild of America (DGA) -- and asked pal Quentin Tarantino to lend a helming hand later this summer. Now, Bruce Willis (opposite) joins an ever-expanding cast. EW collared Rodriguez for a hard-boiled sit-down.

How'd you convince Miller to let you adapt it?

I said, I'll shoot the opening sequence [with] Josh Hartnett and Marley Shelton. You'll come down, hang out, be part of it. I'll cut it together, put the effects in. If you like what you see, we'll make a deal and keep going. If you don't, you've got a nice short film to show your friends.

Who's Bruce playing?

He's Hartigan, a cop who's retiring. He's got a bad ticker. He might not be 60 [as in the comic], but he'll be up there. We're aging him a little bit -- because Bruce, of course, is still badass Bruce.

I've been a big fan of Bruce's since Moonlighting. I remember seeing a black-and-white film noir episode of him in Moonlighting. [He]'s got this great, hard-boiled black-and-white face. Bruce's section's black and white -- in keeping with the comic. Some sections are color.

What happened with the DGA?

They said, ''As you know, it's totally against the rules to have two directors.'' And I was like, it is? How was I supposed to know that? I see codirectors all the time. The Wachowski brothers, the Hughes brothers. It's a subjective ruling. There's nothing in the rule book that says it specifically -- the rule book is very thick, by the way. I looked at it and it said you have to be ''a bona fide team.'' Whatever the f -- - that means.

So you left the Guild. Does that mean you can't make A Princess of Mars for Paramount?

I can still do that movie, because I was assigned to it before I left the DGA. I'll occupy that island of misfit directors like Quentin Tarantino and George Lucas. That's where I've been banished. [Laughs] It's actually really nice here.

Any regrets?

Every day, I just look over at Frank, and he's got this big smile on his face. And I think, God, I'm really glad I got to make this movie.

Originally posted Apr 23, 2004