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Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003) Poster

Trivia

After being introduced to High-Definition digital video by George Lucas in 2000, Robert Rodriguez made this film his personal test to push the limits of the cameras. They withstood all of the conditions, including the often intense Mexican heat, and allowed Rodriguez to experiment with various lenses, filters and frame speeds.
Jump to: Spoilers (6)
Johnny Depp shot all of his scenes in eight days, but after filming was done he didn't want to leave. So he suggested to Robert Rodriguez that he play a small part, the priest that Antonio Banderas talks to in the church, and used his Marlon Brando impression.
Johnny Depp improvised many lines where he was originally intended to swear.
There is a kid dressed in a yellow T-shirt in all the films in the El Mariachi (1992) trilogy.
The real guns the filmmakers intended to use were delayed at the Mexican border for two weeks, so for the first two weeks of filming only rubber prop guns were used, with all of the visual effects added digitally in post-production. At first Antonio Banderas was so thrown off by using silent prop guns that he was mouthing "bam" noises as he fired off fake shots.
The man Barillo hires as a body double was an assistant. There were no digital effects. The man looked as identical to Willem Dafoe as he did in the movie.
The last movie Robert Rodriguez wrote as a member of the Writers' Guild of America. He left the WGA after completing the script, saying that they "have too many rules and just take your money." He would later leave the Directors' Guild of America in early 2004, before the filming of Sin City (2005).
The Chihuahua has a name tag that says Moco on it. Moco (which means "booger" in colloquial Spanish) was the villain in El Mariachi (1992).
Most of the gunfight in the church was filmed with rubber guns, almost no squibs and no physical damage to the church. Nearly all bullets, blood, explosions and physical damage were added in post-production.
The Mexican military was originally going to supply the vehicles, but when they found out that the villain was supposed to be an army general, they refused. The vehicles were supplied by local collectors.
The role of Sands was originally intended for George Clooney. When he was unavailable, Robert Rodriguez considered Kurt Russell, Bruce Willis, Sean Penn and Nicolas Cage before deciding on Johnny Depp.
According to the liner notes in the soundtrack CD, Johnny Depp wrote his own theme music (track nine on the CD). Rubén Blades supplied a bass line for his character, and Antonio Banderas embellished on the previous El Mariachi (1992) theme.
The script was 45 pages.
The role of Cucuy was written for Quentin Tarantino, who ended up having to drop out in order to shoot Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003).
In the sidewalk café scene, after Johnny Depp walks away, Rubén Blades pours the first drink of his wine on the ground. This is a symbolic gesture meaning "for those who have gone before" and is a salute to his murdered partner.
The ringtone for the cellphone that Sands gave to El Mariachi is "Canción Del Mariachi", the theme song of Desperado (1995). You can hear it for a very short time before El Mariachi answers the phone.
The name "Ajedrez" is Spanish for chess.
When El Mariachi opens his guitar case in the hotel, some of Navajas' knives from Desperado (1995) can be seen strapped to the inside of the lid.
This is the second movie in Hollywood's history to be located in the city of Culiacan, Mexico.
Salma Hayek's scenes were re-scheduled in the shoot, so as to allow her to complete filming of Frida (2002).
When Antonio Banderas is sorting his guns in his hotel room, the ammo on the bed is made by "Rodriguez Rounds".
There are several scenes that were left over from El Mariachi (1992) and Desperado (1995). The hotel escape was originally intended for "Desperado", and the escape from the compound (while guarded in a jail cell) was included in the original script for "El Mariachi".
WILHELM SCREAM: during the motorcycle chase.
The film was finished in 2001, but the release was pushed back to 2003.
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One of the first films to be shot on an HD Digital camera at 24 frames per second, the Sony HDW900.
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According to Robert Rodriguez, the idea to do a third movie in his El Mariachi (1992) franchise came from his friend Quentin Tarantino, who, knowing Rodriguez to be a fan of Sergio Leone, also suggested the title. Tarantino is given special thanks in the closing credits. Actually, however, Rodriguez intended on making a trilogy from the beginning. You can read that in his book "Rebel Without A Crew".
The painting, printed on a banner at the beginning of the Day of the Dead parade, is by Los Angeles (CA) artist George Yepes, who--as of this writing--lives in San Antonio, TX.
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During pre-production, Robert Rodriguez estimated that he would need around 70 visual effects shots in the movie, but it wound up being more than 400. However, due to Rodriguez's extremely fast and efficient style of filming, and the fact that digital effects could be inserted much easier into digital video, the film could be finished within budget.
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Cheech Marin refers to Antonio Banderas as "the biggest Mexican ever seen.", despite Banderas being a Spaniard, not a Mexican. Banderas is 5'9", which is still taller than the average Mexican male (5'7"), but Robert Rodriguez, who is 6'2", really is "the biggest Mexican."
One of the metal lunch boxes used in this movie is a Marilyn Manson lunchbox, featuring a picture from his album "Holy Wood".
Originally filmed in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio, the film was matted to a fake 2.39:1 aspect ratio for theatrical release.
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The scene where Fideo shoots the soldier, and causes him to fall over the railing, was improvised.
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Sands uses the phrase "Savvy" just like Johnny Depp's character of Capt. Jack Sparrow in the "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise.
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Danny Archuleta is the name of Rubén Blades' character in Predator 2 (1990). His friend in this movie's name is also Archuleta.
The motorcycle chase was originally written as "mini road warrior".
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"Fideo" translates to "noodles" in English, which was the name of Robert De Niro's character in Once Upon a Time in America (1984).
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It was Johnny Depp's idea for Sands to wear tacky T-shirts. He even sent his sister to Florida to find the tackiest ones from tourist stalls.
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Cheech Marin and Danny Trejo played different roles in Desperado (1995). In fact, Marin's role was supposed to be the same character, since Robert Rodriguez forgot he had been killed and had to be reminded prior to filming.
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Johnny Depp came up with Sands' first and last names.
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Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

When Billy is shot in the back, the gunshot is digital, as Mickey Rourke didn't want to ruin his jacket.
Body count: 99
When Sands has his eyes removed we see blood and sunglasses on him. Johnny Depp stated it was a mix of Hershey's strawberry and chocolate syrup covering his eyes.
There are a few references from the graphic novels of "Sin City", which Robert Rodriguez filmed after this movie. First, when Sands shoots Ajedrez in the stomach after getting kissed by her, it's an identical picture from the graphic novel "A Dame To Kill For", which is #2 in the Sin City maxi series. Earlier in the movie, when Barillo makes Sands blind, there is almost an exact picture from the Sin City book "Hell And Back". Other similarities are the scene with El Mariachi and the priest in the confessional booth (as seen in the book "The Hard Goodbye") and the subplot involving facial reconstruction (as seen in "A Dame to Kill For").
This is the only Robert Rodriguez film without a female protagonist. Salma Hayek only appears in flashbacks, since she is supposed to be dead.
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For the final confrontation, Sands as a cowboy, dressed in all black, is a direct homage to El Topo (1970) (The Mole). Sands is blinded, bleeds out of his eyes, is left for dead and undergoes a transformation. El Topo also goes through a transformation, as he is shot stigmata-style, bleeds out of his wounds and is left for dead.
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See also

Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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