Robert Rodriguez was born in San Antonio, TX, on July 20, 1968. When he was in the 8th grade he saw John Carpenter's Escape From New York, and immediately knew he wanted to be a filmmaker. He made short films all through high school, using his 10 siblings as actors. He got into the University of Texas, Austin on an academic scholarship, and there he continued making short films as well as comic strips (his comic Los Hooligans ran for three years in the university newspaper).
His first application to film school was rejected due to poor academic standings, but his ticket in was his 1990 short Austin Stories, which once again starred his siblings. Once he got into film school he wasted no time, making his first 16mm short, the award-winning Bedhead, in 1991.
In 1992 Rodriguez decided to make a full-length feature for the Spanish video market to practice for Hollywood. For $7000 (most of which he raised by taking part in experimental drug tests) he shot El Mariachi together with his best friend Carlos Gallardo (who starred in the film). Rodriguez did everything in El Mariachi except act; he directed, wrote the script, edited, did the sound, the special effects, etc. The film went on to become a huge success, winning the Audience Awards at Sundance Film Festival and Deauville Film Festival, as well as a host of other awards. It is undoubtedly one of the most profitable films ever made.
El Mariachi landed Rodriguez his Hollywood break: a deal with Columbia Pictures to make a sequel to El Mariachi. Desperado, starring Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek, was released in 1995 and was quite well received. Next up was Four Rooms, a collaborative effort of four different directors. The idea was good but not the execution, and the film was a failure. In 1996 Rodriguez once again worked with Quentin Tarantino (who played in Desperado and did one of the segments in Four Rooms) when he directed his vampire script From Dusk Till Dawn. Tarantino also starred in the film, along with George Clooney, Salma Hayek and Juliette Lewis. The film was very entertaining, with a lot of action, violence, blood, and gore. In 1998 Rodriguez released another horror flick, The Faculty, an OK teen film written by Kevin Williamson (of Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer fame).
Rodriguez' next project, however, was a 180° turn from his previous work: Spy Kids, a children's film about siblings who must rescue their spy parents, was a surprise hit in 2001. The sequel, Spy Kids 2: The Island Of Lost Dreams, is already finished and is due to be released later this year. Rodriguez is currently working on another sequel, Desperado II: Once Upon a Time in Mexico, which brings back Banderas and Hayek and also stars Johnny Depp. It is slated for release in 2003.
In addition to the movies mentioned above, Rodriguez has worked on several other films doing different jobs, such as acting and being an assistant director.