Danny Trejo Biography & Facts
Dan Trejo (; Spanish: [ˈtɾexo]; born May 16, 1944) is an American character actor and restaurateur who has appeared in numerous and various Hollywood films. His films include Heat (1995), Con Air (1997), Bubble Boy (2001), and Desperado (1995), the latter with frequent collaborator and his second cousin Robert Rodriguez. Trejo was 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 Stargate Atlantis, 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 was 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 1960s, 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 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, 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. Remembering Trejo's boxing skills, Bunker 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.
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 was 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). 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. 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.He voiced the character Enrique on King of the Hill, Octavio character on the show is based on Danny Trejo’s appearance. His role on King of the Hill was referred to in the HBO series, Unscripted, where he had a cameo appearance. 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".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.
Danny 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.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 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. 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.
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