EXCLUSIVE: Danny Trejo Talks Machete Kills
Chances are, you missed Machete Kills when it was in theaters this past fall. It didn't necessarily set the box office ablaze, but maybe that's because it's the type of movie you want to buy and own, so you can watch it over and over again at home. It's certainly packed with unbelievable action sequences and over the top moments that will have your finger permanently stuck on the rewind button. It's the type of B movie that gains quick cult status as it makes its way onto Blu-ray for the first time this week.
Danny Trejo continues the adventures of 2010's Machete, a movie that itself was a spin-off of the Drive-In classic Grindhouse. This time, ex-Federale agent Machete is called upon by the President of the United States to stop a maniacal warlord from starting World War III. And its notable for bringing one of the most eclectic casts of last year together, with surprising turns from Mel Gibson, Demián Bichir, Amber Heard, Michelle Rodriguez, Sofía Vergara , Charlie Sheen , Lady Gaga and Antonio Banderas, all of which push the madness to an all new level.
We recently caught up with Danny fresh from his stint in Florida, where he just finished working on his fifteenth movie of 2014. (And here, it's only January!) The man is a workaholic, but that didn't stop him from taking a couple of minutes out to chat with us about Machete's latest adventure, his inevitable return in Machete Kills Again... in Space!, and what the future of the franchise holds. He also shares some of his past acting experiences with us, haven taken a role alongside the great Charles Bronson in Death Wish 4: The Crackdown, and he promises that Razor Charlie will return in the upcoming From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series...Even though Robert Rodriguez, director of Machete Kills and creator of this new one hour crime thriller for the El Rey network, hasn't asked him to reprise his vampire role just yet! (Say what, homie?)
Here's our conversation with the living icon that is Danny Trejo!
Danny Trejo: Buena suerte! How you doin', homie? Where you at?
I'm over in East Los Angeles, in El Sereno...
Danny Trejo: That's my town, what's up! (laughs)
A little bird told me that Marc Maron had absolutely no street cred over in Highland Park until the day you stepped out of his car...
I heard that no one ever pays attention to him on that side of town, even with all these big stars coming in and out of his house. No one cared until the day you showed up...
Danny Trejo: (Laughs) How is everything? Good?
Everything is great! Now, are you showing up on Season 2 of Maron? I'd say your episode is my favorite out of that first run he did...
Danny Trejo: Absolutely. Are you kidding me? We will be hanging there, for sure!
I was cruising through Netflix the other day, and I stopped on Death Wish 4. There you are looking young and handsome. I have to know, what was that like getting to work with Charles Bronson, especially since you've always been such a self-stated fan of the first Death Wish movies? You called it one of your top three favorites of all time...
Danny Trejo: Oh, it's so funny. That's the first time my character had a name in a movie. Charles Bronson had been my hero for ever, anyway. He is just beyond awesome. He is the shit! I got to meet him, I got to make friends with him. We kicked it. It was just an awesome experience. And then...AND THEN!!!! I got to be in another film with him called Kinjite: Forbidden Subjects. He was such a great, great guy. I love that I got to play a part in that. That was the first name I had in a movie...Before that I was inmate number one, or I was tough guy number one. Or bad guy. You know what I mean?
It's funny, because I was watching that with a kid who is fourteen. He only knows you from your more recent work. He was shocked to see you in this old movie...
Danny Trejo: Oh, absolutely, absolutely!
Its interesting to me. I remember reading about you way back in 1985 when Runaway Train came out. I remember this article that traced your background, and I've followed your career ever since. But a lot of these kids think you were discovered by Robert Rodriguez. That you only appear in his movies. How did that relationship between the two of you form?
Danny Trejo: Its funny. We hit it off the moment I walked into Robert Rodriguez's office. He said, "Wow, you remind me of the bad guys in my high school." I looked at him and said, "I am the bad guys in your high school." We hit it off, right? All of a sudden, I get cast for Desperado, we're down in Mexico, my family comes down from San Antonio to meet down in Mexico, his family comes down to meet him. Find out, it's the same family! We're second cousins, and we didn't even know it. We cracked up, and then I said, "Ok, so why don't you make my role a little bigger there?" We just had a blast. He loved the way that people came up to me, and talked to me. He liked what I was. I wasn't too famous, but everyone wanted to take pictures with me. Robert sees this, he comes up to me and says, "Hey, I have a character for you! Its perfect. You don't even have to act. This guy is you. The way you walk, the way you talk, the way you look at people." Then he says, "Machete!" That's when we started really talking about Machete. And then we did Spy Kids, and we said, "Let's call this guy Uncle Machete!" So, I was Uncle Machete in Spy Kids. Then we did Grindhouse. We needed a fake trailer. He said, come on, let's do this, even if we never make a movie. But when we came out of that theater, after everyone had seen the fake trailer for the first time, everyone said, "No, no!! You have to do Machete!" So that's how we came to this. The audience, they really demanded it.
The new one didn't do as well in theaters as some people might have liked. But I watched the movie last night, and I had this preconceived notion that, eh, its probably bad, right....But its fucking awesome! It's as good or better than the first. If you're a fan, you're going to love it!"
Danny Trejo: Yeah! You have to look at what the movie is, itself. Moviegoers, for some reason, they are wanting to only go to a movie that Hollywood spends over $100 million on. Whether it's good or bad. It's the American consumer, I guess...You're going to pay the same price at the box office, so lets go see this because it costs $100 million...And sometimes, you don't like that $100 million movie...I like gritty movies! I like movies that cost $30 million or $20 million, and they are unbelievable, they are awesome...This is a low budget movie. So its hard to think $20 million is a low budget, but that is what they are saying nowadays...I love to see a movie that is more character driven. It's the simple guy that's the hero. Don't take me to a mushy movie, because I'll disturb everybody!
While I was watching it at home, I felt like, this is one of those movies that is going to earn its audience over time, as people pass it along, and it gets discovered on Netflix and cable. Its one of those movies that you want to watch again as soon as its over. There are parts that you need to rewind as soon as you see them, because you can't believe what you guys just got away with showing...
Danny Trejo: Oh, yeah. That's what the movie is. I know. It's the same thing with Spy Kids. I have kids that are five and six years old coming up to me, "I love Spy Kids! You are my favorite!" We did that fifteen years ago!!! So, you know, they weren't even born when the first Spy Kids came out. But Robert Rodriguez makes movies that are just so awesome to watch at home. You can grab your popcorn, eat it...Machete Kills, you can leave for a second, go feed the dog, then come back...I love it. I love Robert Rodriguez movies.
They're all kind of timeless and ageless. Spy Kids hasn't aged...
Danny Trejo: Yeah, I can't believe people are still coming up to me, talking about that movie!
Now, you are the only actor to appear in all three previous From Dusk Till Dawn movies. That begs the question...Is Razor Charlie coming back for the TV series? I think he needs to be in the show, right?
Danny Trejo: Thank you! Call Robert Rodriguez and tell him that. Print that. Make sure you print that! Yeah...I'm going to be in it! Yeah, oh yeah. You need to let Robert Rodriguez know that I have to come back as Razor Charlie. Otherwise he'll try to get Marky Mark or something!
From Dusk Till Dawn is one of my favorite movies of all time. At the end of that movie, we see the back of the Titty Twister, and it's this Aztec Temple, which showed up again in Planet Terror. Now, we see it again here, in Machete Kills...So all three of these movies are connected in that way...
Danny Trejo: There is a tie to all of Robert's movies. If you watch them all in a row, you will see so much stuff. Its really cool...Wait until you see what he has planned in terms of Machete Kills Again... in Space!
Are you guys still going to do that movie? Even though the last one bombed?
Well, I definitely want to see what happens when Machete walks into a coven of vampires...
Danny Trejo: (Laughs) Right! That's going to be fun!
And he realizes that Razor Charlie is his twin brother, and they have the same chest tattoo!
Danny Trejo: Yeah! (Laughs)
Remember that Van Damme movie where there were twins? And he played both of them?
Yes! I'm familiar with them through the Robert Rodriguez movies...
Danny Trejo: They are the best part of this movie. If you don't buy it for me, buy it for them! (Laughs)
Now, last question...You did this awesome favor for Marc, giving him some street cred there in Highland Park, you give him a great episode of his TV series, when the heck is he going to actually have you on WTF?
Danny Trejo: (Laughs) Tell him! Tell him to hurry up? Tell him I'm ready. I think it will be awesome. You know what? I was supposed to do it, and I got really busy. I think he called me up to do it, and I was just too busy. I just got back from Florida, actually. But I need to do it, cause I love that show.
You just need to show up at his doorstep and say, 'Let's do this now!'
Danny Trejo: (Laughs) Maybe I will! Thank you, man! God bless!