Trejo at the May 2017 Phoenix Comicon
May 16, 1944
|Occupation||Actor, voice actor, restaurateur|
|Height||5 ft 6 in (1.68 m)|
(m. 1997; div. 2009)
Dan Trejo (//; Spanish: [ˈtɾexo]; born May 16, 1944) is an American actor and voice actor who has appeared in numerous Hollywood films. His films include Heat (1995), Con Air (1997), and Desperado (1995), the last with frequent collaborator Robert Rodriguez. Trejo is perhaps most recognized as the character Machete, originally developed by Rodriguez for the Spy Kids series of movies and later expanded into Trejo's own series of films aimed at a more adult audience. He has appeared in TV shows such as Breaking Bad, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The X-Files, King of the Hill, The Flash, and Sons of Anarchy. He has also appeared in several music videos for the American band Slayer.
Dan Trejo was born on May 16, 1944 on Temple Street in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, to Mexican American parents. He is the son of Alice Rivera and Dionisio "Dan" Trejo (1922–1981), a construction worker, and a second cousin of filmmaker Robert Rodriguez (born 1968 in San Antonio, Texas), though the two were unaware that they were related until the filming of Desperado. When he was 13 he moved to the diverse Pacoima neighborhood of Los Angeles, and recalls never really experiencing racism while growing up. Years later he purchased his childhood home and usually lived in it. Prior to his film career, Trejo worked as a labor foreman in construction.
Throughout the '60s, Trejo was in and out of jail and prison in California; Trejo has suggested that his physical appearance contributed to his constantly getting into trouble. There are conflicting accounts of his prison chronology. By one account, his final term in custody ended in 1972; by another account, he did time in a juvenile offenders' camp and six California prisons[which?] between 1959 and 1969. He recalled that his last prison term was five years.
While serving in San Quentin, he became a champion boxer in that prison's lightweight and welterweight divisions. During this time, Trejo became a member of a 12-step program, which he credits with his success in overcoming drug addiction. In 2011, he recalled that he had been sober for 42 years.
Film and television
While Trejo was working as a youth drug counselor, a teenage patient asked for his assistance dealing with cocaine problems on the set of Runaway Train (1985). While there, Trejo was offered a job as an extra in the film's prison scenes. Edward Bunker, himself an individual who was formerly incarcerated and at the time a well-respected crime author who was writing the screenplay for the film, recognized Trejo, with whom he had done time at San Quentin. Bunker, remembering Trejo's boxing skills, offered him $320 per day to train Eric Roberts, one of the movie's stars, for a boxing scene. Director Andrei Konchalovsky liked Trejo's work and decided to offer him a small role in the film as a boxer. It has been widely misreported that Trejo was actually serving time in the prison during filming, when in fact he had been released more than a decade earlier.
Since then, Trejo has become a prolific actor in both films and television, appearing in five or more movies per year, in various genres. He has appeared in such major releases as Marked for Death (1990), Blood In Blood Out (1993), Desperado (1995), Heat (1995), From Dusk till Dawn (1996), Anaconda (1997), Con Air (1997), The Replacement Killers (1998), Six Days, Seven Nights (1998), Animal Factory (2000), Bubble Boy (2001), Spy Kids (2001), XXX (2002), Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003), Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004), The Devil's Rejects (2005), Snoop Dogg's Hood of Horror (2006), Delta Farce (2007), Grindhouse (2007), Rob Zombie's Halloween (2007), Urban Justice (2007, alongside Steven Seagal), Valley of Angels (2008), The Haunted World of El Superbeasto (2009, in which he voices the character of Rico), Modus Operandi (2010), Machete (2010), Predators (2010), Bad Ass (2012), Reaper (2014), Preggoland (2014), and Range 15 (2016).
Trejo is known for his distinctive appearance. In addition to his heavily lined face, scarred from cystic acne and a brawl, and the long hair and mustache he usually sports, he has displayed the large tattoo on his chest for many roles (the tattoo depicts a woman wearing a sombrero). He often plays thugs or lowlife characters, although he has also played sympathetic characters in films such as Robert Rodriguez's Spy Kids trilogy, Bubble Boy, and the USA Network series Monk, where art imitated life in his portrayal of a convict roommate of Tony Shalhoub's undercover detective. He also appeared in a Season 2 episode of Desperate Housewives, where, as another good-guy character, he was sent by Carlos to help Gabrielle deal with the grief over losing her unborn baby.
He voiced the character Enrique on King of the Hill, and Octavio's character on that show is based on his appearance. His role on King of the Hill was referred to in the HBO series Unscripted, where he had a cameo appearance. He also is featured in the episode "Comedy" (season 5, episode 1, aired February 28, 2010) of Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! and an episode of Do IT LIVE with actors Anna Bennett and Claudia Pickering, shot in Downtown Los Angeles, titled "Sebring feat. Danny Trejo". He also made guest appearances, as DEA cartel drug informant Tortuga (a.k.a. "The Tortoise"), in the noted series Breaking Bad Season 2 episode "Negro y Azul" (2009) and Season 3 episode "I.F.T." In 2011, he appeared in the action movie Recoil with WWE wrestler Steve Austin.
Trejo's life is documented in the 2005 independent biographical film Champion, which features Dennis Hopper, Val Kilmer, Steve Buscemi, and Robert Rodriguez. In 2013, Trejo shared his tumultuous journey from convict to movie star with KTTV in Los Angeles in a segment filmed in his own home.
In 2008, Trejo portrayed a Mexican bartender in the daytime soap opera The Young and the Restless.
Regarding his continued growth as a professional actor, Trejo has remarked, "I'm so blessed. I'm still scared that somebody's going to wake me up and say, 'Hey, we're still in prison. Let's go to chow". Many of Trejo's characters in Robert Rodriguez movies have been named after knives or sharp instruments: Machete in Spy Kids, Razor Charlie in the From Dusk till Dawn series, Navajas (Spanish for folding knife) in Desperado, and Cuchillo (Spanish for knife) in Predators. He also played Machete in a trailer made for Rodriguez's film collaboration with Quentin Tarantino, Grindhouse. In 2010, he starred in a full theatrical version of Machete, based on the character, and later in a sequel, Machete Kills, in 2013.
In 2012, Trejo starred alongside Ron Perlman and Charles S. Dutton in Craig Moss's action film Bad Ass (2012). He played the main character of Vietnam veteran Frank Vega, based on 67-year-old "Epic Beard Man" Thomas Bruso. That same year Trejo again appeared with Perlman in a supporting role in season 4 of the FX network drama Sons of Anarchy.
In 2014, Trejo produced his first film, Ambition, and then produced his second film, the action film Bad Asses. In 2015, Trejo appeared in a television commercial for Snickers that aired during Super Bowl XLIX, in which he portrayed Marcia Brady prior to eating the candy bar. In 2016 and 2017, he appeared as himself in transparent disguises in TV ads for Sling TV.
In 2017, Trejo appeared on Hell's Kitchen as guest in season 16's final dinner service. He also made a guest appearance on the Rick and Morty episode “Pickle Rick”, voicing the part of Jaguar, and together with Sasha Grey he was a lead actor in China Test Girls directed by Frankie Latina.
In the TV show The Flash, Trejo appears as a breacher (an interdimensional bounty hunter) who can manipulate the space-time fabric and travel to other parallel worlds. In "The Flash", he is the father of Cisco's love interest, Gypsy. Originally hating Cisco and going on duck hunt to kill him, Cisco has proven himself worthy of having a relationship with Gypsy, so 'Breacher' has left them alone.[episode needed]
Trejo lent his voice to Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (2002) and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories (2006) for the character Umberto Robina, who also resembles Trejo. Additionally, he voiced Raul Tejada, a Ghoul, in Fallout: New Vegas (2010).
In 2004, Trejo made an appearance in the videogame Def Jam: Fight for NY, playing one of the villains. An enforcer for Snoop Dogg character Crow. Ingame, Trejo's character is named like himself and uses the streetfighting style.
Trejo appeared in the PlayStation Move game The Fight: Lights Out (2010) as an instructor for the player's character, and as himself, in the second map pack for Call of Duty: Black Ops (2010); Escalation map pack, on the zombie map Call of the Dead and his voice and character appears in the 2018 game Guns of Boom. He can be seen in the intro of Greg Hastings' Tournament Paintball Max'd ("Play for Real", B-Real & DJ Lethal).
Over the years, Trejo has opened a series of successful Los Angeles restaurants. His first was Trejo's Tacos (2016), followed by Trejo's Cantina (2017) and Trejo's Coffee & Donuts (2017). The rainbow cauliflower tacos made the Los Angeles Times' list of 10 favorite recipes of 2017. The restaurants are overseen by executive chef Mason Royal. Their most recent venture will be an expansion of a donut food truck in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Trejo has made cameo appearances in music videos, such as "Got It Twisted" by Mobb Deep (2004); "La Familia" by Kid Frost; Sepultura's video "Attitude" (1996); Jay Chou's short movie-music video "Double Blade" from his 2003 album Yeh Hui-meir release IV (2011); and Yelawolf's video "Whistle Dixie" (2012). He also appeared in famous adult entertainer Lupe Fuentes' music video "We Are the Party" (2012) with her band, The Ex-Girlfriends. In 2013, he appeared in the music video for the Enrique Iglesias' song Loco. On July 15, 2014, Trejo featured as his Robert Rodriguez character Machete in the music video of Train's "Angel in Blue Jeans", which additionally featured Canadian television hostess and actor Hannah Simone. On September 11, 2015, Trejo appears in the music video "Repentless" from Slayer's "Repentless" album released on the same day. "Pride in Prejudice", another video from the same album, features Trejo with an expanded role.Plastilina Mosh, a Mexican alternative rock band, paid tribute to Trejo with their song "Danny Trejo", featured in their album All U Need Is Mosh (2008). He also made a cameo appearance in Rehab's "Bartender" video. Danny Trejo had a major role in "Money" ft. Bekuh Boom by Broiler.
In Charlie Higson's third The Enemy series novel, The Fear (2011), Orlando Epstein, nicknamed Einstein, makes fun of DogNut's ignorance by introducing himself as Isaac Newton. In retaliation, DogNut says, "My real name's Danny Trejo, but you may call me DogNut. Everyone else does." When Einstein responds, "Okay, Danny", DogNut reflects: "He may not know much about scientists, but Epstein clearly didn't know much about hard-faced, ex-con Mexican action-movie stars."
Trejo is a contributor to the book Prison Ramen: Recipes and Stories From Behind Bars (2015). In the comics series DMZ, a convicted felon named Danny who resembles Trejo appears. In the 30th volume of Hiroya Oku's Gantz manga series, Kei Kurono fights a humanoid alien giant who has Danny Trejo's appearance and likeness. This bout is on chapter 326 of the Gantz manga series.
Trejo owns several ventures in the food and restaurant business. As of January 2016 these included a taco restaurant on La Brea Avenue in Los Angeles, his own brands of beer, coffee, and various merchandise, with ice cream sandwiches under development. Trejo's Donuts is located on the northeast corner of Santa Monica Blvd and Highland Avenue.
In August 2019, Trejo witnessed a car colliding at an intersection with an SUV and helped extract a five-year-old trapped in a child safety seat inside the overturned SUV. Trejo was quoted saying about the incident: "Everything good that has happened to me has happened as a direct result of helping someone else. Everything."
He is a recovered alcoholic.
- on YouTube
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