A Roadracers Retrospective

Cast members John Hawkes and William Sadler remember the early Robert Rodriguez movie
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Cast members John Hawkes and William Sadler remember the early Robert Rodriguez movie
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Cast members John Hawkes and William Sadler remember the early Robert Rodriguez movie

Back in 1994, before Desperado or Sin City or even Spy Kids, Robert Rodriguez directed a movie for Showtime called Roadracers. It starred David Arquette, Salma Hayek, John Hawkes and William Sadler as a bunch of small-towners making music, hanging out in diners and beating each other up. In honor of the movie’s first ever Blu-ray release, John Hawkes and William Sadler talked to us about the making of the movie. Sadly, Salma couldn’t be reached for comment.

On Getting Involved

JOHN HAWKES: I just really loved the script. And I was very taken with El Mariachi, so I was excited to meet Robert and then Robert’s creative partner-in-crime for that project was Tommy Nix, who my character was sort of based on. Those guys lived in Austin, where I had just moved from a few years before. I felt a kinship to them.

On Working with Robert Rodriguez

WILLIAM SADLER: I don’t know if it was intimidating at all to take on a big project like that — I think he’d only done El Mariachi before that — but I remember thinking he was like a kid with the biggest box of toys you ever saw. He was like, “Oh I have one of those! Look at these!” And he kept picking things up. He would pick up the camera and he would pick up the sound boom. He had to learn it all, he had to learn everything. And he had to learn it really, really fast. So I think the crew didn’t know what to make of him either, but I think everybody was cutting him a lot of slack because they knew it was such a short schedule and he’d never worked in this setting before.

On Whether He’s Ever Done Something As Attention-Grabbing As Licking Glass

JH: Wow, in real life? I’m not really so much an attention-grabber. I don’t really do outlandish things to get people’s attention, I don’t think I really ever have. I think being an actor, choosing a career as an actor probably fits the bill. It’s a fairly outlandish way to get people’s attention [laughs], to stand on a stage or write a song or anything like that. But I’ve never had an airplane fly over in the sky for someone or anything like that.

On Shooting in 13 Days

WS: I don’t think, up until that point, I had ever shot anything that ambitious in that short a time. But I found myself loving it, because there’s no time to fuss. There’s no time to get precious about it, or worry, or fret. I’ve never been an actor who likes to do hundreds of takes. There’s a point, like five or six takes into it, where it’s not getting any better. Now it’s getting worse. The words start to not make any sense at all. I’m sort of best on my second or third take, that’s usually the one I like. But Robert was flying. I would come in and do a scene here and then disappear for a while but he was just running like a madman full time, and loving it as I recall.

On Relating to Sleazes Like Nixer

JH: Well, I guess I identify with them on some level. You know, I wasn’t an unpopular kid. But I think everyone feels geeky. Everyone feels — at least for me — a wanting to belong, and maybe not belonging or being accepted into certain groups. Again, I wasn’t an unpopular kid by any means, but I think I relate to the underdog period. It’s less of a sleaze thing and less of a creepy thing and more just a person who’s not fully equipped to solve their problems, but continue trying to solve them anyway. I’m attracted to that. It’s interesting.

On Why He Plays Villains Like Sarge Constantly

WS: Because I’m evil. I don’t know. I don’t have any idea, I’m like one of the nicest people you’ll ever run into! I’m glad they use me for something. If you can’t be the hero, be the villain. That’s the next best job, and in some ways it’s more fun because there are things that the hero can’t do. And there’s just nothing stopping a villain from doing anything. It is a completely free, blank canvas. Heroes have to be honest, they have to be honorable, they have to look after children and little pets. Screw all that. I’m going to kill them and then eat a sandwich while sitting on his chest. Who cares? And the worse a person you are, the more fun it is for the audience.

Roadracers is available on Blu-ray and DVD now!

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