By Andrea Plaid
If I could create a starry constellation of badassery, I’d create one of Danny Trejo.
I caught the feels for him when I saw him in Robert Rodriguez’s Desperado. (Come to find out those two are cousins.) Trejo’s assassin, Navajas, moves like a leather-vested wraith through the Mexican streets to hunt down Antonio Banderas’ El Mariachi, and then he pulls back the vest to reveal one of the slammingest tats (the woman is Trejo’s moms) and the throwing knives…::swoon::
The R’s Managing Editor Arturo García says that Trejo essentially took “his archetypal (and stereotypical?) Tough Guy character into leading-man status” with the release of Rodriguez’s obstensibly anti-SB 1070 flick Machete. And he has: he was first approached to be an extra in Runaway Train, but the movie’s screenwriter, Edward Bunker, asked Trejo to use his championship boxing skills that he learned in prison–that’s where Bunker and Trejo met–to train one of the movie’s lead actors for a boxing scene. From there Trejo has been cast as the baddie–be that baddie villian or protagonist–in several films and video games over his 20+-year career. (Source)
A couple of directors have asked this week’s Crush to call upon his past–Trejo was a heroin addict and armed robber and in and out of the prison system in his youth and served an 11-year stint which dashed his hopes to become a professional boxer--to create on-screen characters, such as in Heat (1995) and SherryBaby (2006).
And Trejo’s gotten pop-culture love right back: the Mexican alt-rock band Plastilina Mosh immortalized him in their song, “Danny Trejo.” (Clip NSFW!) Snoop Dogg (among others) honored him with creating a videogame character based on him. Trejo also has a documentary, Champion, about his life.
But what I love and respect the most about the 68-year-old actor is his love for people, especially the next generation. Crediting the twelve-step program for helping him clean up his life, Trejo works as a drug counselor. Another reason why Trejo takes on so many villianous roles is, according to his wiki, “to teach younger audiences that bad guys often die or go to prison, and that one should try to live a decent life.” He gives talks about his life and education at high schools, colleges, youth prisons, and youth groups because, according to the above clip, ”to keep kids from going down the same road I did.”
And Trejo loves his roots. He stays in his hometown of East L.A., which he talks about in this mini-doc by Estevan Oriol:
So, the constellation…it should be of Trejo’s signature mustache. And if the asteroid named after Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson would swing through, that would be some serious celestial Racialicious love. And mustaches.