My Christmas present was an interview with Machete himself. Before we broke for the holidays, Danny Trejo set up shop in Beverly Hills to get the word out on the DVD and Blu-ray of his starring vehicle, Machete. We got real about his drug counseling and Christmas spirit too.
Crave Online: You’ve been talking about Machete for 15 years with Robert Rodriguez. Was it always about immigration back then?
Danny Trejo: Immigration was the backdrop for the movie plot. The movie was about fighting corruption on both sides. Every time politicians want to please their constituents, they start talking about immigration. Then they get voted in, don’t do nothing about it. I think what we did with this movie is brought immigration to the forefront, saying, “Okay, now let’s do something about it.” What we have to do and what the government refuses to do is separate immigration from drug trafficking. There’s a big, big difference. As long as they keep it together, they’ve got this huge problem that they can keep pumping money into it, everybody’s making money. I think once you separate them, then we can do something that’s fair to everybody on immigration. The only thing that’s fair to drug traffickers is put them in prison.
Crave Online: Was that always the idea for the story, even 15 years ago?
Danny Trejo: I think the idea was to make a great action movie with the first Latino action hero. I’m glad that Robert’s idea was: Hollywood has been constantly trying to push a certain look as a lead. Pretty boys, DiCaprio, Johnny Depp, George Clooney, these are pretty guys. Nothing against them, they’re great actors but they’re pretty guys. I think Robert said, “Wait a minute. How come an action hero can’t be the plumber or the guy that shows up at your door to fix your sink? Just a regular guy.” So when we got together on Desperado, he said, “People like you, Danny. You look mean, you look intimidating but people gravitate towards you.” So I made the perfect Machete. When we did the trailer, after the trailer, it was just fan request. It was just demanded.
Crave Online: Is Machete the character you’ve played that’s the most like yourself?
Danny Trejo: I think in idea, an idea that I would right a wrong in a minute and I hate bullies. I don’t like people picking on other people so yeah, I guess he kind of encompasses a little of me.
Crave Online: Because like you say, you play bad guys and mean guys but you’re really a nice guy and a good guy.
Danny Trejo: Yeah, but don’t print that. [Laughs]
Crave Online: Machete don’t text, but he does Blu-ray and DVD?
Danny Trejo: We got it. Blu-ray, DVD, Machete’s coming out January 4th on both. That line, “Machete don’t text,” actually came from a conversation. I was trying to get in touch with Robert because I had some ideas on Machete and he hadn’t answered my calls. So when I ran into him at Comic Con, I told him, “Why don’t you get my phone calls?” He said, “Every time you call me, I’m either in a meeting or I’m filming. Why don’t you just text me, Danny?” I said, “Machete don’t text.” And from then on, when that showed up in the script, I just laughed.
Crave Online: What cool extra kills are we going to see in the deleted scenes?
Danny Trejo: Wow, there’s a whole bunch of great stuff that couldn’t make the movie. This is a must for a present because the movie was wall to wall action, so you can imagine the action that didn’t make it into this movie.
Crave Online: Was there more with Steven Seagal?
Danny Trejo: Yeah, the sword fight was a lot longer. I love Steven. I did a movie called Marked for Death with him. We had a lot of fun on that. We had a lot of fun on this. Thank God because Steven is an expert swordsman. He’s world rated so he choreographed all the sword fight scenes. He shows us how to use the machetes in a battle like that.
Crave Online: Had you ever used a machete as a weapon before?
Danny Trejo: No, no. I use a machete for work but never as a weapon.
Crave Online: We haven’t heard much about the second director on Machete. What did Ethan Maniquis do?
Danny Trejo: You know, Robert Rodriguez is the boss anywhere he goes but Ethan was there. He oversaw stuff but me and Robert have worked on 10 movies together so we have a communication that is like no other. He can look at me and I know what he wants. A lot of times he’ll tell me, “Stop acting.”
Crave Online: You still do drug counseling. Is that really tough around the holidays?
Danny Trejo: Absolutely, absolutely. A lot of people feel like their lives are ruined because they can’t buy presents. Whatever, it doesn’t take much to set you off so we deal with a lot of depression. What we try to do is have gatherings to where we can talk about it or just hang out and just have support. A lot of times all you need is a little support.
Crave Online: What are the Trejo family Christmases like?
Danny Trejo: They’re a blast. This year, everybody kind of seemed to go their own way so I just invited about 20 friends and we’re going over to my mom’s. We’re having a party at my mom’s just because she really wasn’t going to do anything this Christmas so I said, “Yeah, you are, Mom. We’re hosting a party.” And my friends all know my mom. A lot of us grew up together so they just come by and take care of her.
Crave Online: It seems like we see you in 10 movies a year. How much do you actually work?
Danny Trejo: Just about all year. People ask me, “Are you going to go on vacation?” I go, “What are you talking about? We’re in Hawaii.” My life’s a vacation. I love what I do so I’m not the person that gets up and is upset about having to go to work at 5:30 in the morning. I love it. I love being on a movie set. I love being with people that love what they’re doing. Everybody, everybody that I know, especially on a Robert Rodriguez movie. It’s like an adventure every day.
Crave Online: Did you get to do the Harold and Kumar Christmas?
Danny Trejo: Yes, I did Harold and Kumar Christmas and that’s going to be a blast. That’s going to be in 3D and those guys were funnier than hell.
Crave Online: What was your role?
Danny Trejo: I played Harold’s father in law. So it’s hilarious. We interrupt his Christmas.
Crave Online: Do you have a cameo in the new Muppet movie?
Danny Trejo: I am a Muppet. I’m hoping they make me one of the old men in the balcony. “Yeah, let’s get all these guys outta here!”
Crave Online: That would be cool, Statler and Waldorf and Machete!
Danny Trejo: [Laughs]
Crave Online: Is Uncle Machete back in Spy Kids 4?
Danny Trejo: Just finished it, absolutely. He’s got to take care of the kids, you know.
Crave Online: But it’s new kids this time.
Danny Trejo: Yeah, the older kids make an appearance but they’ve got two new kids and they’re amazing. They’re just amazing.
Crave Online: Do you still have all the gadgets?
Danny Trejo: Oh yeah, oh yeah. I’m the scientist with all the gadgets, the inventor.
Crave Online: How cool was it to do comedy on Modern Family?
Danny Trejo: Well, working with Sofia, that was awesome. She’s great. I knew her from a TV series I did in New York. That’s where I first met her, about four years ago. Then when I saw her on set, we just embraced. It was just beautiful seeing her again.
Crave Online: Wasn’t Julie Bowen in your scenes too?
Danny Trejo: Absolutely and I’ve known Julie for a long time too.
Crave Online: Are you looking for more comedy?
Danny Trejo: Give me what you’ve got. I’ll play a tree if you want me to. If you want me to put fruit on it, pay me more money. I’ll just do whatever I do. Moviemaking is my job. It’s what I do. It’s like a house painter. I’ll paint whatever house you got.
Crave Online: “Be a tree” is like an old exercise. Have you done that?
Danny Trejo: Be a tree? No, I haven’t played a tree yet but I will.
Crave Online: It took 15 years to get Machete. It won’t take 15 more for Machete Kills, will it?
Danny Trejo: Oh no, no. Not if I have anything to say about it.