One of the most notable and recognizable “that guy” actors in Hollywood, Danny Trejo has appeared in countless movies and TV shows, doing everything from broad comedy (Bubble Boy) to action (Con Air, xXx) to children’s movies (Spy Kids) to voice work on TV (King of the Hill) and even video games (Grand Theft Auto: Vice City). He’s shared screen time with some of the biggest stars, including George Clooney, Johnny Depp, Robert De Niro, and Harrison Ford, just to name a few, and discovered he was second cousin to director Robert Rodriguez while the two were working on Rodriguez’s 1995 film Desperado. Last year alone, in fact, Trejo acted in two high profile (and well-received) action films attached to Rodriguez: Predators, which Rodriguez produced, and Machete, which Rodriguez directed.
With the Certified Fresh Machete hitting video store shelves just last week, we were lucky enough to sit and chat with Trejo, who gave us his Five Favorite Films and went on to talk about working with people he admires, a Machete sequel, and his appearance on a certain daytime soap opera. Read on for the full interview!
There was a movie called Animal Factory; it was [written] by Eddie Bunker, and it was directed by Steve Buscemi. It’s probably the best prison movie that’s ever been made. It’s unbelievable. I actually helped produce that. Eddie had the script, was running around with it for a while, and then gave it to me and said, “See what you can do with it.” I remember handing it to Steve Buscemi on Con Air, and I said, “Here, Steve. Read this or I’ll kill you.” [laughs] And he read it. He loved it, but he said, “Danny, there’s nothing really in it for me,” and I said, “No, no, no, we want you to direct it.” So he got Willem Dafoe, and when he got Willem Dafoe, everybody else kind of jumped on it.
Next, Danny Trejo on working with big names, a possible Machete sequel, and appearing on a daytime soap.
RT: You’ve had the chance to work with all these big names, and it almost seems like you’re someone who can look at a movie and say, “You know what? I want to work with that guy someday.” Do those kinds of roles come to you?
Danny Trejo: Yeah, well hell, I’m one of those guys that people are saying that about. [laughs] I’m kidding, I’m kidding. That was funny. You know what? It’s like, just give me what you got. I’ve worked with everybody that I really admire. I’d like to work with Clint Eastwood. I’ve never worked with Clint Eastwood; I’d love to work with him. I would love for him to direct a western that I was in, because he just has that eye for westerns. I remember the last western he made, Unforgiven, oh man… I mean, that was a dirty, gritty, way a western’s supposed to be, I didn’t wash my socks kind of movie. [laughs]
We get teased at the end of Machete that we’re going to get more Machete pictures…
Yeah, I asked Robert Rodriguez when he was going to write Machete Kills, and he said, “It’s written.” So it’s written; now he’s just waiting to find the backing and do it.
When are we going to see a Danny Trejo movie with you behind the camera?
Uh, that’s too much work. [laughs] You know, I watch Robert. Robert shows up first, and he leaves last. You know, when everybody’s gone, he’s setting up shots for the next day, and then he goes home and edits. Making a movie of that kind, of any kind, is a six-, seven-month commitment, you know, and I’m having too much fun doing what I’m doing.
Apart from Machete, do you have a favorite movie that you’ve worked on?
Animal Factory was a blast, Spy Kids was a blast, Con Air was just the biggest test in testosterone ever. That was a fun movie to do. And you know, I had fun working on a movie called Bubble Boy. [laughs] With Jake Gyllenhaal, and he was cool. And then I worked later on a film with his sister, Maggie, called Sherrybaby, and that was probably one of the most dramatic roles I played, up until… Machete. [laughs]
As you’ve been doing so many action movies, did you ever figure that you’d end up on something like The Young and the Restless.
You know, it’s a really funny story about that. My mom never believed I even had a job. I mean, I would come home and say, “Mom, I worked with Robert De Niro!” and she’d go, “I know, mijo, but you need a job. I’ll make you lunch.” You know? “Mom! I’m an actor!” And then I did three episodes, I think, of The Young and the Restless, and she said, “Mijo! You made it! I saw you!” [laughs] She had all of her little group sitting in front of the TV, watching me on The Young and the Restless.
So are we going to get a Danny Trejo soap?
[laughs] That would be fun. My house would be quite a reality show right there. My wife, right now, is putting together a reality show called Trejo to the Rescue, because she’s a real animal advocate. So we’re doing that, and, you know, whatever comes down, we’re ready to go.
Machete is currently available on home video in DVD and Blu-Ray format.