Back in 1993, Robert Rodriguez made a name for himself with his Sundance Film Festival breakout El Mariachi. The self-established Texas director is attending the 2013 Sundance festivities to commemorate that event, ahead of his Machete and Sin City sequels arriving later this year.
No surprise, journalists are using the occasion to question Rodriguez about Frank Miller's Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (a.k.a. Sin City 2). Hence, we now have confirmation that Bruce Willis is returning as Hartigan, the cop with a (permanent) heart condition, along with some insight about Joseph Gordon-Levitt's character, how far Rodriguez is with principal photography and how 3D will be implemented.
The Sin City 2 script - written by Miller and William Monahan (The Departed) - is expected to incorporate two original Sin City graphic novel stories, "A Dame to Kill For" and "Just Another Saturday Night." "Dame" takes us back before "The Big Fat Kill" (a.k.a. the Clive Owen segment in the first movie) and explores Dwight McCarthy's (now played by Josh Brolin) past, revealing the truth behind his facial reconstruction. Meanwhile, "Saturday Night" follows Marv (Mickey Rourke) on an adventure the same night that Hartigan meets up with Nancy (Jessica Alba) in the first Sin City installment.
One of the new Sin City 2 stories features Nancy on the run from Senator Roark's (Powers Boothe) men, after Hartigan slays his murderous son and commits suicide to protect her. It's that segment where Willis could make a prominent appearance (through flashbacks and/or dream sequences), though a fleeting cameo in another part of the film - "Saturday Night," for continuity's sake - isn't out of the question. Rodriguez told MTV that "Bruce is back, you'll be seeing him," but otherwise held back on letting that cat fully out of the bag.
Rodriguez also confirmed that the second new storyline in Sin City 2 is titled "The Long, Bad Night" and revolves around Levitt playing a new addition to the Basin City population (by the name of Johnny):
"It's a new character. He plays a gambler, a very cocky gambler, who comes in and tries to beat the biggest villain in Sin City at his own game. The story's called 'The Long, Bad Night.' He beats the wrong guy in a game and bad stuff happens to him."
Sin City 2 is heading the prototypical sequel route, where everything about the first film is amplified; here, that includes an even bigger star-studded cast, extremely stylized cinematography (bordering on experimental) and green screen effects that allow Miller's black-ink-on-white source material to seem alive and breathing, and villains who are somehow badder than the yellow-skinned pedophiles, cannibal priests and murderous thugs in the first movie. We'll find out soon enough if that's too high an order, when the film hits theaters.
In the meantime, though, early signs are encouraging and Rodriguez appears to be confident that whomever the actress is cast as Ava Lord - the titular "Dame" and end-all femme fatale, who (of course) Dwight used to date - will rise to the challenge. On that subject, the director confirmed:
"We have some choices in mind, but we haven't finalized the casting. She doesn't shoot for a couple of weeks."
Speaking of production: Rodriguez commenced with shooting on Sin City 2 almost three months ago, which accounts for his revelation that recently-announced cast members Jeremy Piven, Ray Liotta and Juno Temple have all completed their roles (Rodriguez says "Fans will be surprised," to learn who they're playing).
He also mentioned:
"The only story we've shot out [completely] is one of the intro [stories]. That's completely done. [Others stories will be done in] bits and pieces, as actors become available."
The piecemeal construction approach to Sin City 2 recalls used on the first movie; indeed, some actors shared the screen together without ever meeting in the real world, through the magic of post-production. Rodriguez is pushing the technology envelope even further in the sequel, with a visual approach that better imitates Miller's drawings and the incorporation of 3D filmmaking:
"We're really playing with stuff because that's a very two dimensional world and to see that stylization in 3D, it'll blow people's minds. 3D hasn't been used like this yet."
Will that help to win over Sin City's detractors, who felt the movie bore too much of a resemblance to (and reverence for) its pulpy comic book source? Probably not but, then again, they're not the ones who'll be heading out to see this sequel after waiting eight years for it to come together.
Look for Frank Miller's Sin City: A Dame to Kill For in theaters on October 4th, 2013.