Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

R.I.P. Peter Marquardt, villain of El Mariachi

Illustration for article titled R.I.P. Peter Marquardt, villain of El Mariachi

Actor Peter Marquardt has died at the age of 50. Marquardt was best known for his performances in movies directed by Robert Rodriquez, starting with Rodriguez’s first low-budget feature, El Mariachi (1992). Marquardt played the villain, a murderous drug lord operating in Mexico, and reprised the role for a flashback sequence in Rodriguez’s first studio picture, Desperado (1995). He also made a brief appearance in Rodriguez’s Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over (2003).


Rodriguez met Marquardt when the two were bunkmates during a drug trial, one of the many ways Rodriguez raised the $7,200 budget of El Mariachi. In his book, Rebel Without A Crew, Rodriguez wrote that he was struck that he and Marquardt had both brought along the same book, Stephen King’s The Dead Zone. Over the course of the trial, the two watched David Cronenberg’s movie version, as well as Steven Soderbergh’s sex, lies, and videotape and Peter Verhoeven’s Flesh + Blood. Rodriguez said he decided that Marquardt reminded him of the lead actors in each of those movies.

“That clinched it for me,” Rodriguez wrote. “Anybody who can manage to have the menace of a Rutger Hauer, the icy coolness of a Christopher Walken, and the playboy air of James Spader had to be in my movie.” He also liked the fact that Marquardt didn’t speak Spanish, which helped clarify his conception of El Mariachi’s villain. “I didn’t want the character to be Mexican; there’s enough bad guy Mexicans in movies. I wanted the bad guy to be an American drug lord who had fled the states, set up shop in a small Mexican town, and took it over, barely speaking the language. Peter Marquardt fit the bill.”

Marquardt also did voice work for several video games, and in 2011, he starred in the horror movie The Shadow People. In 1999, he served as co-producer on the video game Dominion: Storm Over Gift 3.