Actors like Jessica Alba, Rosario Dawson and Bruce Willis are returning from the first instalment, while newcomers to the series include Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Eva Green and Josh Brolin.
Rodriguez welcomes back another name, Lady Gaga, who he first cast in Machete Kills.
“When I asked if she was interested in acting she said, ‘I studied acting and I always wanted to be in one of your movies because of the theatricality and the showmanship.”
When she finished shooting her role of a deadly assassin in Machete Kills, Rodriguez tweeted, “Holy Smokes. Blown away!” and promptly cast the singer in A Dame to Kill For.
For years, directors have looked to musicians to bring their natural charisma to the screen. Perhaps no one more than Nicolas Roeg has explored the potential for rock stars to become movie stars. “They have,” he said, “a greater ability to light up the screen than actors.”
In 1970 Roeg and co-director Donald Cammell made the psychedelic crime drama Performance, starring Mick Jagger in his first on screen role. The Rolling Stone played the mysterious Mr. Turner, a jaded former rock star who gives shelter to a violent East London gangster (James Fox). In 2009 Film Comment declared Mick Jagger’s Turner the best performance by a musician in a movie.
Next came The Man Who Fell to Earth, an existential sci-fi film about an extraterrestrial named Thomas Jerome Newton, starring a perfectly cast David Bowie in his feature film debut. Roeg says he “really came to believe that Bowie was a man who had come to Earth from another galaxy. His actual social behavior was extraordinary. He seemed to be alone — which is what Newton is in the film — isolated and alone.”
Finally, Bad Timing was advertised as a “terrifying love story” and called “a sick film made by sick people for sick people” by its own distributor. Art Garfunkel, of 60s folk duo Simon and Garfunkel, stars as a psychology professor living in Vienna whose sadistic relationship with a pill addicted woman (Theresa Russell) ends with a battle for her life. The sexually explicit film was difficult for the actors, and at one point Garfunkel even wanted out. Over martinis Roeg told his nervous actor, “I must ask you to trust that I know where I’m going. It’s a maze, but there is an end to it.’”
Garfunkel stayed on, delivering a performance that the New York Times called “very credible.”