Robert Rodriguez was told to make 'Spy Kids'' Latino family 'American'

Gregory Wakeman
Robert Rodriguez opens up about his fight to keep Spy Kids' family Latino. [Image by Dimension Films]

Robert Rodriguez had to fight tooth and nail just to make the family in 2001’s Spy Kids Latino, even though he had written the script and was due to direct the film, too.

Rodriguez admitted as much during a recent Comic-Con@Home panel on Thursday, via Indiewire, recalling how he had to convince the financiers that making most of the cast Latino wouldn’t adversely its impact at the box-office.

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“For me it was a big victory … to have the kids in Spy Kids be a Latin family, “ said Rodriguez, who was born in San Antonio to parents of Mexican descent. “The studio was like, ‘Why are you making them Latin, though, why don’t you just make them American?’ They are American, they’re based on my family.”

Rodriguez’s inspiration for Spy Kids was his uncle Gregorio, who worked for years at the FBI, and was even the name of Antonio Banderas’ lead character. 

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - NOVEMBER 14: Director and writer of "R.U.N - The First Live Action Thriller" presented By Cirque du Soleil Robert Rodriguez attends the show's grand opening night at Luxor Hotel and Casino on November 14, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images for Cirque du Soleil)

“There were no roles being written for Latins at that time, back in 1999, nor were they being cast. If I wasn’t Latin, I would have given up the fight.”

“When you’re doing anything that’s new, this just happens to be about diversity, you’re going to get a question and you have to have a good answer. They weren’t being d**** or anything, they’ve just never seen it before.”

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Ultimately, Rodriguez convinced the studio by telling them, “You don’t have to be British to enjoy James Bond. By being more specific, you’re being more universal.”

Rodriguez was right, too, as Spy Kids went on to gross $148 million (£115 million), despite costing just $35 million (£27 million) to make.