Robert Rodriguez, the relentlessly imaginative director of films like Sin City, Roadracers, and From Dusk Till Dawn, turns 44 today. Throughout the course of his career, Rodriguez has made a name for himself as a fiercely independent auteur, something he discussed at length during a recent interview with The Huffington Post:

George Lucas told me, "You are going to think outside the box just by being outside the box." And it was true. If I were in L.A., I would have seen how "everyone else" made a movie. I would have known right away that I was doing it the "wrong way." But there's no one "right way" to do anything. Because here in Texas, you're going to innovate ideas by thinking different and not find anyone telling you "no." When you think about it, Hollywood is more imitative than innovative. They almost have to see someone do it successfully first. They react to someone doing it. If you're outside of that box, you'll think outside the box. Automatically.

Rodriguez went on to talk about the inspiration behind many of his films, including his own Latin identity:

As a filmmaker and writer, you end up making stories from your own identity, so for me it's probably going to have Latin actors in it. Back on Desperado, I didn't want to have this problem in Hollywood where they go: "We can't cast Latin because we've never cast Latin before and we're afraid to be first." So you had to be first in a lot of these things. It's what broke through barriers, but you're just following your heart. Because you want to see those faces on the screen, you want to open up the movie world. What was innovative back then is fortunately now more the norm.

The director also acknowledge that violence plays a large role in many of his films, but insisted that he uses it judiciously. "It's all about tone. Tone is everything," he explained. "Tone is the difference that makes something either a violent movie or a comedic action movie." Overall, though, he says his movies are more about liberty than anything else:

If there's a unifying theme to my movies, I'd say it's freedom. In Once Upon a Time in Mexico, the closing lines were even about that. Salma's character asked Antonio what he wants in life, he responds, "To be free." She says "Simple." He says, "No."

Robert Rodriguez has already begun shooting the sequel Sin City, titled Sin City: A Dame to Kill For -- a project that Miramax is proud to be involved with.

Read the full interview with The Huffington Post  here.