The upcoming movie Alita: Battle Angel is full of gigantic CG action sequences mixed with live-action locations. Director Robert Rodriguez is bringing James Cameron’s vision to life, and along the way, he accidentally made a cameo in the movie.
During the third act of the film, in the Motorball race, Rodriguez has a brief appearance, which he originally voiced until a voice actor came in. “Back then, the voice of the guy who gets kicked, he gets his head knocked off in the Motorball race, and he goes ‘Aw, crap,'” Rodriguez explained to GameSpot. “That’s still my voice from my original rough version. The crew left it in because they liked how it sounded. I said, ‘Hey what’s that actor we got?’ They said, ‘Nah we didn’t like him for it. We liked you for it.'”
Cameos aside, Rodriguez accomplished readable, clear action sequences, throughout the film, which includes the Motorball sequence. “That was the most difficult sequence for me because the only way you read a script, an action script or any script, it’s not the same writer as who directs it,” Rodriguez explained. “So a lot of times, I’ll read a script and go ‘That’s not gonna work,’ but not with [James Cameron’s] scripts. It’s almost like he’s seen the whole movie finished in his head, and he’s writing down exactly what he’s seen. It’s so clear, that you can follow it like no other script I’ve ever read. And so I wanted it to be as clear as that. Where you can follow it, and that was my feeling like I’ve seen so many of these big movies you just get lost.
“People get lost, so it’s great when you hear the audience cheering cause that means they’re actually able to follow the action and the drama and Jim had just done such a great job of not making it the sport at all, making it a real character moment where she’s actually being hunted down and possibly killed by these guys. Forget the ball game, he’s trying to kill them. So you wanted to keep that drama, Jim did it in a very dramatic way, it had high stakes and all the adventures so you just didn’t want to lose the audience.”
From the major action sequences to the individual characters, Cameron’s vision of this world was very specific, and Rodriguez was in awe of the work he put into this world before he came on. This is especially true for the Hunter Warrior Zapan, whose look is very different than how he appears in the manga. “I looked at a painting [Cameron] did,” Rodriguez said. “I saw this shot. I think it must be Zapan, and I got a shot of his back, and it had that calendar on it, and it was metal, and I thought that just blew me away. It’s like a Ferrari; he puts all of his money into his body and his face. It speaks volumes about his vanity. It’s a cool design, and it’s sort of a Latin design too which shows that it’s a melting pot world world which for sure always had as the graphic novel could.
“You see cultures from all over come around, multiple languages being spoken, different signage. It’s a microcosm of what’s left of the world. But I just thought that was such a awesome place to start from, to just make him look like a shiny car, and there was a long aspect of design which was finishing it out, finishing the front of him, and how it tied together and yeah it’s probably my favorite design but starting with Jim and then it finished… we did the rest of it.”
You can see the visually stunning movie, Alita: Battle Angel, for yourself when it opens on Thursday, February 14.