That Guy- Danny Trejo

Often times we watch movies and recognize certain actors. Sometimes it’s Brad Pitt and Shia Labeouf, but other times they’re actors who show up in the occasional movie but will never be bigger than they are right now.

I’m not talking about an actor like Jeremy Renner of recent Mission: Impossible and Avengers fame. No, I saw him coming a mile away. Or rather, about eight years ago in that terrible movie SWAT with Samuel L. Jackson and Colin Farrell. I was thinking “This movie sucks, but the bad guy is pretty cool.” And whaddaya know? Here we are in 2012 and Renner’s everywhere. So I guess you could say I kind of discovered Jeremy Renner, putting it as humbly as possible. But I digress.

I’m solely speaking of an actor that is without star potential, or at least star potential in the conventional sense. An actor or actress who it seems their career ambitions lie solely on making movies and money. There ain’t no winning Oscars or Academy Awards with these people.

For a while there, I thought of Richard Jenkins as that kind of actor. But as it turns out, he’s received critical acclaim in 2007’s The Visitor, thereby excluding him from the category of actors coming to mind. You know who I’m talking about.

The actors you see in countless movies yet you’ll never know their name. They’ll pop up everywhere and they’ll stand out as being possibly your favorite or even your most hated, but nevertheless, they never disappear and they never become more popular. In this particular instance, I have one man’s face in mind. His face, and the sombrero-wearing lady tattooed on his chest. I’m speaking of Danny Trejo.

Quit acting like you don't already love him.

Quit acting like you don’t already love him.

Danny’s fame is unique in that he has been the star of his own movie, the credit or the blame going to one Mr. Robert Rodriguez, Machete (2010), also known as Taylor’s Biggest Cinematic Disappointment of 2010. Yet, it still doesn’t seem as though he shows up in anymore movies than he was before.

No matter how bad this guy’s box office performance is, he will always be around for more. No matter how good the movie is that he’s in, people will not know him any better. If Dark Knight Rises comes out and Danny Trejo is in it, you may hear a surprised laugh from fans of the more obscure side of Hollywood, but it ain’t gonna boost his appeal to anybody else.

If it would have, it would have happened by now. This guy has made over 230 appearances in television and film and he’s still looking like the same guy now that he was twenty years ago when he first showed up in 1995’s Desperado. He’d been around before then but dang man, I can only go back so far. He’s one of the few actors I just accept in whatever they show up in. Some trashy B-movie about hooker zombies? Sure? Avatar 2? …Okay!

Someone could use his mustache as an avatar. Don't steal that, Cameron.

Someone could use his mustache as an avatar. Don’t steal that, Cameron.

One of my favorite Danny Trejo roles is his role in the heist classic, Heat (1996) where he plays the wonderfully named character, Trejo. He’s usually known for playing bartenders, vatos, convicts, and all around thugs. He usually plays these roles the same as well; laid back yet easily offended. Often times, he says “homes.”

In ’98’s Con Air, he stole the show (relatively) as Johnny 23, the plane’s resident rapist, who tattooed a heart on his forearm every time he claimed a new victim. His character always stuck out to me as a kid when I would watch it because not knowing what rape was when I was 11, he still seemed worse than any of the other characters.

Might be what he would turn to if he were forced to shave the 'stache in real life.

Might be what he would turn to if he were forced to shave the ‘stache in real life.

But as often as he plays these roles, he still comes across as likable. In real life I mean, not onscreen. Onscreen, he pretty much Satan’s towel boy half the time.

I’ll be watching TV and all of a sudden I’ll think, ‘Hey, I’m in this!’ A lot of times I don’t even know the names of (the movies). I just show up. From 1985, when I first started, to 1990, I did a shit-load of B-movies about prisons. They would always say, ‘Get that Mexican guy with the big tattoo.’ I’d show up and I’d have one line, like, `Kill’em all!’ or something.

This right here says it all. Of all the things he’s been in, of all the people he’s worked with, this guy still knows his place. Not place in the sense that he knows he’s good, but meaning that he knows his roles. He knows how he’s seen. He’s not pretending to be some A-list, upper class elite thespian. He does this for the money and the experience.



This guy did not come from a rich background and it’s pretty well known, if you’re familiar with him, why he looks the way he does. Growing up like he did (rough neighborhoods, in and out of prison), he was pretty sure he wouldn’t have made it much longer if it hadn’t been for being cast to train an actor as a boxer for $350 a day.

“How bad do you want this kid beat up?” -Danny Trejo after being promoted to boxing trainer, from $50 a day to $350

Like I mentioned above, Machete sucked. The fake trailer was funny when it appeared with Planet Terror (2007) but the movie itself turned out to be terrible. I can’t blame Trejo, though. Look at this guy. LOOK AT HIM.



He’s just too cool. Extra or lead, he takes the role as far as his own abilities allow him. A friend wanted him to play Bane in the new Batman movie. Can’t you just see him with the mask on, taunting Bruce Wayne in his last moments. It would be glorious. “‘Ey, homes, lemme get those keys to your batcar. That ride is tight.”

When all is said and done, you can’t hate this man. He is what he is. Acting for the money and for the experience, no matter how bad the movie he’s in may be, I never blame him and he never loses favor with me. He even showed up in a straight to DVD parody of Machete known as “Pool Boy” starring Kevin Sorbo and HE played the sidekick! To a movie that was made as a rip off of his own!


Ha…ha? I GUESS it looks wacky enough.


Seriously, I could hardly finish the trailer, it looks so awful but here it is anyway. Nevertheless, Trejo’s perseverance and dedication to the craft is why I am voting for Trejo in the 2012 Presidential campaign. I realize this is something of a leap, to go from thinking a B-actor is awesome to encouraging you to vote for him as president, but it’s worth a shot. I don’t even care if he was born here (he was, in LA).

He’s got my vote. Give him yours.

The campaign poster

Also, check out this great tribute video to our man, Trejo.


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