Interview: Cheech Marin on "Machete"...And More

9/03/2010 Posted by Admin

Interview: Cheech Marin on "Machete"... And More

By our guest blogger, Joel Crabtree

After decades in the industry, Cheech Marin is a name that is pretty much universal with audiences. He has devoted fans from his days of partnering with Tommy Chong (the two are currently back together on the “Get It Legal” tour), he formed new fans with his work with director Robert Rodriguez in “Desperado,” “From Dusk Till Dawn” and “Once Upon a Time in Mexico,” and he also has garnered younger fans with movies such as “Spy Kids” and Disney-Pixar's “Cars.”

His latest film, “Machete,” marks the eighth time he has worked with Rodriguez. Marin plays Padre Benito del Toro, the title character's “holy brother,” who helps the former Mexican Federale (Danny Trejo) on his quest to kill the corrupt Sen. McLaughlin (Robert De Niro).

In all his year of working in the business, Marin said he had never seen anything like watching the momentum for the film grow from the fan-base. “They absolutely demanded this movie be made, I heard it for years. 'When's the movie coming out, when's the movie coming out, when are you gonna make the movie,'” the actor said recently. “So, it was the first instance of that where I've seen a movie made because the fans demanded it.”

In a recent phone interview for, I learned something about Cheech Marin: His humor is quick and dry. Fortunately, I had the pleasure of learning this the hard way, as I tried to fight through poor phone reception.

Joel Crabtree: I'm sorry, I'm losing you ...

Cheech Marin: Losing me?

JC: Yeah, a little bit.

Cheech: Try flowers or chocolate or something.

JC: (laughs) “Machete” marks the eighth time you've worked with Robert Rodriguez, I believe. What is it like working with him.

Cheech: Low paying … (laughs). Actually, it's a lot of fun working with Robert, you know, we have a great communication.  He just says a few words to tell me what he wants and I get it. It's mostly figuring out what kind of face to make for him.

JC: Do you have a favorite of your collaborations with him?

Cheech: You know … I like “Desper ...” Well, I like 'em all. I like “Desperado” because it was the first time I got to create a good character [as] the bartender. That's really well remembered. I also like “From Dusk Till Dawn,” which I played great characters. That seems to be the dialogue that most people remember (laughs).

JC: It's one of my favorites, by the way.

Cheech: "Once Upon a Time in Mexico," too, 'cause, like, I got to work with Johnny Depp and create another character. And the “Spy Kids,” I get remembered by a lot of kids from “Spy Kids.” Little kids who don't know who I am, like little kids. And then I say, you know Uncle Felix?

JC: Was there ever a moment when you didn't think "Machete" was gonna happen?

Cheech: Most of the time. Most of the time I didn't think it was gonna happen, cause it was years. You get really kind of, I don't know if [I'd say] jaded, but maybe callous, by the whole movie process. Some movies do, some movies don't, some movies take forever, some almost get to the finish line and then fall out. You don't get excited until you're actually on the set.

JC: In “The Perfect Game,” you play a very family-oriented priest and within the same year of release, you're portraying this seriously badass priest. I was wondering what the transition was like?

Cheech: Well, different collars.  One's a little stiffer.… You know, like, “The Perfect Game” was a story that was very dear to my heart, because I was in Little League at the time that this story happened. I was exactly the age of those kids. And so I knew that kind of priest, I knew what kind of priest that was, a parish priest in Mexico. I knew his sensibility. And the other one was the graphic novel priest. Which was cool.

JC: You're also known for your collaborations with Tommy Chong, and you're touring with him now on the “Get It Legal” tour. What has the response been [like] from fans of Cheech and Chong?

Cheech: It's amazing. I mean, I knew that there would be a big welcome for us, because nobody ever believed we'd get back together – me being one of them. But it's amazing. And what's even better is there's a greater acceptance of the second tour, because we're doing a completely different show, and people like this show even more than the first, which is far out.

JC: I also wanted to talk to you about your roles in movies aimed [more] toward children, like the “Spy Kids” movies – another Rodriguez collaboration, of course – and also your voice as Ramone in “Cars.” How has that altered your celebrity among children?

Cheech: You know, as far as the animation goes, I love that process where younger kids don't know who I am until the parents are urging them on, and they're trying to figure out ... “You know, 'Lion King' and 'Cars'? And they [the kids] look up, they go … 'Cars'? And I do the voice for them … *gasp* … and it's like Santa Claus just appeared.

JC: My little cousin is absolutely crazy about “Cars,” and I'm just going to ask if there's been any talk about you reprising the role and the voice in the upcoming “Cars” sequel?

Cheech: Yeah, I'm getting ready to do it right now. I've signed all the contracts and ready to go--I'm just waiting for them to call me. It's gonna be soon. And also they're having a “Cars” ride at California Adventure, the Disneyland junior next to Disneyland. I just went there. It's gonna be a huge ride--it's 55 acres. I just did all the voices for the … “Step out of the car, go to your right, put your safety belt on,” and all that.

JC: Final question … what is your kill count in “Machete”?

Cheech: You know, I don't know.

JC: Not as high as Danny's?

Cheech: No, no, not as high as Danny's, no. After all, he is Machete.

JC: Is there anything else you'd like to add?

Cheech: I urge people to go see this movie, it's a lot of fun. You know, it's the only movie I've seen where the gore causes laughs.

"Machete" is now playing in theaters. Below is the trailer.  What are your thoughts on it?

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