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At this point in his career, Robert Rodriguez is hardly a newbie. It was nearly 30 years ago that he directed his first feature, 1992's El Mariachi, and he's made close to 20 features in that time. He is most definitely regarded as a veteran in the filmmaker community - but apparently that status did absolutely nothing to stop him from constantly looking to the legendary James Cameron in the making of Alita: Battle Angel:
Jim’s like the ultimate Yoda. First, he’s like, ‘You don’t need guidance. Stop calling me a mentor, you don’t need any mentoring.’ You know, he’s just totally empowering. He does it without even trying. If I ask him a question, he will give you back a really thoughtful Jim Cameron answer.
Robert Rodriguez and James Cameron had the opportunity to work together closely in the making of Alita: Battle Angel, as the former directed a script written by the latter, and clearly Rodriguez truly loved the time they spent together, and the wisdom he gleaned. It was a subject he discussed with apparent enthusiasm during a recent interview with Indiewire.
Being a significant part of the 1990s indie director movement, Robert Rodriguez has a number of titles on his resume that are beloved by certain cinephiles, including Desperado, From Dusk Till Dawn, and Grindhouse, but there's also no real arguing that James Cameron operates on a different level. You can't even properly list the game-changing titles on the man's resume because it gets too unwieldy in text and you have to make controversial omissions.
I think it's safe to say that any of us put in Robert Rodriguez's position would treat James Cameron's eminence the same way, and one extra benefit is that Rodriguez made an effort to permanently capture the pearls of wisdom Cameron had to offer:
So I just have it on record. I turn my phone recorder on, because it’s like some of this will go right over my head and I’m going have to go back and study it. He’s so freaking brilliant.
It seems like the collaboration will be one that Robert Rodriguez will long cherish - and there's still a lingering question mark regarding whether or not he will get the chance to work alongside James Cameron again. Following pessimistic early box office prognostications, Alita: Battle Angel has turned into an impressive hit, to date making $360.3 million worldwide (though only $74.7 million comes from domestic grosses). At this point we're still waiting to see if there will be an opportunity for the project to produce a sequel, but the possibility definitely exists.
Even if Robert Rodriguez and James Cameron never get to work together again, though, at the very least it sounds like Rodriguez made the most from the time.