Danny Trejo

Danny Trejo
Danny Trejo by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Trejo at the May 2017 Phoenix Comicon
Dan Trejo

(1944-05-16) May 16, 1944 (age 76)
  • Actor
  • restaurateur
Years active 1977–present
Height 5 ft 6 in (1.68 m)
Debbie Shreve
( m. 1997; div. 2009)
Children 2

Dan Trejo (/ˈtrɛh/;[1] Spanish: [ˈtɾexo]; born May 16, 1944) is an American actor and restaurateur who has appeared in numerous Hollywood films. His films include Heat (1995), Con Air (1997), and Desperado (1995), the last with frequent collaborator and his cousin 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.[2]

Early life

Dan Trejo was born on May 16, 1944 on Temple Street in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, to Mexican American parents.[3][4][5] He is the son of Alice Rivera and Dionisio "Dan" Trejo (1922–1981), a construction worker,[6][7] 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.[8][9] When he was 13 he moved to the diverse Pacoima neighborhood of Los Angeles, and recalls never really experiencing racism while growing up.[10] 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 1960s, Trejo was in and out of jail and prison in California;[11] 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;[5] by another account, he did time in a juvenile offenders' camp and six California prisons[which?] between 1959 and 1969.[12][13] 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.[5] 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.[12]


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).[5][14] While there, Danny 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.[5][14] Edward 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 Danny Trejo was actually serving time in the prison during filming, when he had been released more than a decade earlier.[citation needed]

Trejo at Muscle Beach

Since then, Danny 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), A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas (2011), 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 boxing brawls, 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).[14][15] Although he has often played thugs or lowlife characters, he has also played sympathetic characters in films such as Robert Rodriguez's Spy Kids trilogy, Bubble Boy and the USA Network TV show, Monk, where art imitated life in his portrayal of a convict roommate of Tony Shalhoub’s undercover detective.[citation needed] Trejo also appeared on a notable TV show, Desperate Housewives, on Season 2, Episode 8, where, as another good-guy character, he was sent by Carlos to help Gabrielle deal with the grief over losing her unborn baby.[16]

He voiced the character Enrique on King of the Hill,[17] Octavio character on the show is based on Danny Trejo’s appearance.[18] His role on King of the Hill was referred to in the HBO series, Unscripted, where he had a cameo appearance.[citation needed] He was also featured in the Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, on Season 5, Episode 1 “Comedy”. He was also featured on an episode of, Do IT LIVE with actors Anna Bennett and Claudia Pickering, shot in Downtown Los Angeles, the episode was titled, "Sebring feat. Danny Trejo".[19][20]

In 2008, Danny Trejo portrayed a Mexican bartender in the daytime soap opera The Young and the Restless.

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." (2010). In 2011, he appeared in the action movie, Recoil with WWE wrestler Steve Austin.

Trejo in October 2009

Danny Trejo's life is documented in the 2005 independent biographical film, Champion, which features Dennis Hopper, Val Kilmer, Steve Buscemi, and Robert Rodriguez.[21] 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.[22]

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’".[23] Many of Danny 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.[24] 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 release of the film Machete, based on the character “Machete” and again in 2013 for the sequel film, Machete Kills.

In 2012, Danny Trejo starred alongside Ron Perlman and Charles S. Dutton in the Craig Moss 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 appeared again with Ron Perlman, in a supporting role on Season 4 of the FX television drama Sons of Anarchy.

In 2014, Trejo produced his first film titled, Ambition, and 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 Snickers candy bar.[25][26] 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 Season 16 as a guest in the final dinner service.

On August 6, 2017, Danny Trejo made a guest appearance on Season 3 of the Rick and Morty animated TV show, on the episode “Pickle Rick”, he voiced the part of “Jaguar”.[27] Together with Sasha Grey he was a lead actor in ‘China Test Girls’ (2017) directed by Frankie Latina.[28]

In the TV show, The Flash, Danny 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]

In 2019 Danny Trejo had a supporting role in the film, Acceleration, as Santos.[29]


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 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.[citation needed] Additionally, he voiced Raul Tejada, a Ghoul, in Fallout: New Vegas (2010).

Trejo appeared in the PlayStation Move game The Fight: Lights Out (2010) as an instructor, for the player's character. He appeared as himself, in the second map pack installation for Call of Duty: Black Ops (2010); “Escalation” map pack, on the zombie map “Call of the Dead”.

His voice and character appears in the 2018 game Guns of Boom.[citation needed] He can be seen in the intro of Greg Hastings' Tournament Paintball Max'd ("Play for Real", B-Real & DJ Lethal). Danny Trejo was also added in Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 to its battle royale mode “Blackout” as a playable character in 2019.

In 2019, he participated in promotions for Magic: The Gathering Arena, along with Sean Plott.[30]


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).

In 2017, the rainbow cauliflower tacos made the Los Angeles Times' list of 10 most 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.[31]

Music videos

Danny Trejo had made a number of cameo appearances in various music videos throughout his career, these include Kid Frost - “La Familia” (1995), Sepultura - “Twisted” (1996), Jay Chou short movie-music video "Double Blade" (2003), Mobb Deep - “Got It Twisted” (2004), 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 has also appeared in Rehab - Bartender Song (Sittin’ at a Bar) (2009) and Yelawolf - "Whistle Dixie" (2012) music video. He also appeared in famous adult entertainer Lupe Fuentes music video "We Are the Party" (2012) with her band, The Ex-Girlfriends.[32] In 2013, he appeared in the music video for the Enrique Iglesias song “Loco”.[33]

On July 15, 2014, Trejo featured as his Robert Rodriguez character Machete in the official music video of Train - "Angel In Blue Jeans”, which also additionally featured Canadian television hostess and actor Hannah Simone. On September 11, 2015, Danny Trejo appeared in the Slayer - “Repentless[34] music video from the Slayer "Repentless" album released on the same day. He also featured in another music video from the album “Pride In Prejudice”, it features Trejo with an expanded role.[35] On February 26, 2016, Danny Trejo appeared in the Broiler - “Money” ft. Bekuh Boom music video. On October 26, 2019, Danny Trejo appeared in the Tyga - “MAMACITA” ft. YG and Santana music video.


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."[36]

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.[citation needed] 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.

Personal life

Trejo in 2007

Trejo owns a home in the San Fernando Valley.[37] His two children are now with his former wife Debbie; he filed for divorce in 2009.[38]

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.[39] Trejo's Donuts is located on the northeast corner of Santa Monica Blvd and Highland Avenue.[40][41]

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."[42]


See also


  1. ^ "Danny Trejo: Sober 46 Years and Giving Back | AARP" on YouTube
  2. ^ https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-news/watch-slayer-and-danny-trejo-film-gore-drenched-video-at-l-a-prison-51213/
  3. ^ Amy Nicholson. "Danny Trejo Talks 'Predators,' 'Machete' and The Jonas Brothers". Archived from the original on October 21, 2010.
  4. ^ Beale, Lewis (May 9, 2007). "He ain't that bad". Daily News. New York.
  5. ^ a b c d e Bowles, Scott (September 3, 2010). "'Machete' star Danny Trejo is an illustrated man, in many ways". USA Today. Retrieved November 4, 2011.
  6. ^ "Danny Trejo Biography (1944–)". Film Reference.
  7. ^ "Danny Trejo Biography". Yahoo! Movies. Archived from the original on July 7, 2007.
  9. ^ Barlow, Helen (November 11, 2010). "Robert Rodriguez and Danny Trejo cutting a short story long". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved November 12, 2010.
  10. ^ Trejo's Tacos, Recipes and Stories from L. A. : a Cookbook
  11. ^ "Danny Trejo: The actor who went from prisoner to film star". BBC News. Retrieved July 11, 2020.
  12. ^ a b Wright, Paul (August 2011). "Prison Legal News Interviews Former Prisoner and Famous Actor Danny Trejo". Prison Legal News.
  13. ^ "article listing for Danny Trejo". Prison Legal News.
  14. ^ a b c Marks, Lisa (December 6, 2012). "Danny Trejo: 'I went to the hole looking at three gas-chamber offenses'". The Guardian.
  15. ^ Westhoff, Ben. "Danny Trejo - Hollywood Badass". Urban Ink. Archived from the original on August 19, 2014.
  16. ^ "Desperate Housewives" The Sun Won't Set (TV Episode 2005) - IMDb, retrieved November 24, 2020
  17. ^ https://www.complex.com/pop-culture/2013/10/danny-trejo-machete-kills-badass/
  18. ^ "King of the Hill" Hank's Back (TV Episode 2004) - IMDb, retrieved November 24, 2020
  19. ^ "Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!" Comedy (TV Episode 2010) - IMDb, retrieved November 24, 2020
  20. ^ Sebring (2010) - IMDb, retrieved November 24, 2020
  21. ^ Champion (2005) - IMDb, retrieved November 24, 2020
  22. ^ "Casa de Machete". KTTV. Archived from the original on October 2, 2013. Retrieved September 12, 2013.
  23. ^ "Danny Trejo: The illustrated man". Archived from the original on August 10, 2011.
  24. ^ Miska, Brad (April 27, 2010). "Meet Danny Trejo as the Badass Cuchillo in New 'Predators' Character Profile".
  25. ^ Nathalie Tadena. "AdWatch: Snickers Super Bowl Ad Brings Out Different Side of Marcia Brady". WSJ. Retrieved October 3, 2015.
  26. ^ Maura Judkis (February 1, 2015). "The Snickers 'Brady Bunch'-themed Super Bowl 2015 commercial starring Danny Trejo and Steve Buscemi". Washington Post. Retrieved October 3, 2015.
  27. ^ Shepard, Jack (August 7, 2017). "Rick and Morty season 3 episode 3 review: The blood-soaked adventures of Pickle Rick!". The Independent. Retrieved September 7, 2019.
  28. ^ Harris, Chris (May 23, 2017). "Sasha Grey and Danny Trejo Star in Arthouse Thriller 'China Test Girls'". Hypebeast. Retrieved February 7, 2019.
  29. ^ "Danny Trejo". IMDb. Retrieved November 19, 2019.
  30. ^ "Magic: The Gathering Arena - Open Beta Announce Trailer (Official)". September 19, 2018 – via YouTube.
  31. ^ "Big-Screen Badass Danny Trejo Wants to Sell You a Doughnut". Retrieved October 6, 2018.
  32. ^ "About The Ex-Girlfriends". The Ex-Girlfriends. Archived from the original on November 14, 2012. Retrieved December 14, 2012.
  33. ^ "Enrique Iglesias". Billboard. Retrieved October 3, 2015.
  34. ^ "Watch Slayer and Danny Trejo Film Gory Video at L.A. Prison". Retrieved September 8, 2016.
  35. ^ "Slayer – "Pride In Prejudice" Video (NSFW) (Feat. Danny Trejo)". September 6, 2016. Retrieved September 8, 2016.
  36. ^ Higson, Charlie (2011). The Fear. p. Chapter 43, page 7.
  37. ^ "'Machete' Star Drops $550K on Mission Hills Party Pad". TMZ. EHM Productions, Inc. December 30, 2012. Retrieved October 13, 2014.
  38. ^ "Oh Yeah, THAT Guy Files for Divorce". TMZ. Retrieved October 3, 2015.
  39. ^ Harris, Jenn (January 12, 2016). "Danny Trejo talks vegan tacos at the new Trejo's Tacos on La Brea". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 14, 2016.
  40. ^ Loc, Tim (January 30, 2017). "Danny Trejo Is Setting Up Shop At The Former Donut Time Space In Hollywood". LAist. Archived from the original on June 21, 2017. Retrieved May 5, 2017.
  41. ^ Elliott, Farley (January 30, 2017). "Actor Danny Trejo Slashes Into Hollywood With Coffee and Donut Shop - Eater LA". La.eater.com. Retrieved May 5, 2017.
  42. ^ Jackson, Amanada; Walker, Braden (August 8, 2019). "Danny Trejo comes to aid of baby that was trapped in overturned car". CNN. Retrieved September 7, 2019.

External links