With all the buzz flying around the Machete movie, especially the news that Robert De Niro, Lindsay Lohan, Jessica Alba, Cheech Marin, Don Johnson (Nash Bridges reunion!!!) and Steven Seagal will all be in it, I figured I would dig up an interview I did with Mr. Trejo right before the release of Rob Zombie’s Halloween hit on DVD along with a drawing I did a few weeks back when I was relatively bored of Machete. I’m not sure if anything ever happened with the interview (it was originally done for wizarduniverse.com, but I can’t find it on the net), but the interview went down on November 30, 2007 and it was absolutely one of the most fun I’ve ever conducted. Danny was a joy to talk to and really sounds like a dude you could just hang with. Maybe someday… Anyway, here’s the full interview.
Dietsch: How are you doing, man?
Trejo: I was just in TJ [Tijuana]. Who was it with? It was Andy Garcia and Ray Liotta and Eli Morales.
Dietsch: I looked at your IMDB page and you seem busy all the time.
Trejo: Yeah, yeah. Thank God. A busy man who’s trying to do everything.
Dietsch: So I want to start with a few Halloween questions.
Trejo: Sure. Great movie by the way.
Dietsch: Were you a fan of the series, the previous series, before you worked on this one?
Trejo: You know what, I hate to say it, but no I wasn’t. I knew the movie, but I didn’t really get into horror movies until I did From Dusk Til Dawn. I thought, “Wow, this is cool.” And horror fans are probably the most loyal fans that you can get. It’s either horror fans or John Wayne fans.
Dietsch: Do you have any favorite horror movies?
Trejo: Well, I go back to Frankenstein and Bela Lugosi and Lon Chaney, that era. I think that one of my favorite movies of all time is Bram Stoker’s Dracula. But wait a minute, I don’t know if you saw this kind of comedy that was called Dracula: Dead and Loving It. I laugh thinking about that [laughs]. Me and my son watch that and just go hysterical for it.
Dietsch: You’ve worked with a lot of directors in the past. What did Rob Zombie bring to the table for this one? Was there anything that you hadn’t experienced before?
Trejo: You know what, I say it all the time. Rob Zombie brings the same thing that Robert Rodriguez does. They love what they’re doing and any time that you work with anybody that loves what they’re doing it’s just a joy. It’s a joy to show up for work. If you’re working with a plumber that loves what he’s doing it’s a joy to be around him because he not only likes what he’s doing, but he likes teaching you. If you’re ever around with Rob [Zombie] or with Robert Rodriguez or Quentin [Tarantino], if you’re standing by them – I hate to say this because I’m a lot older than them, but they’re actually holding class. “And the reason we’re shooting this is because if we get this angel we can edit it like this.” They’re holding class because they love doing what they’re doing.
Dietsch: That’s got to make it really fun to be on set, I’m sure.
Trejo: Oh, yeah. It just makes it really fun.
Dietsch: Now, when you’re working on a horror movie do you ever get creeped out by the atmosphere of the whole thing, especially with something like Halloween where your character gets killed? Is that strange to see?
Trejo: No. I think it’s a lot of fun and people who work on horror movies especially really have to love what they’re doing. Even the stunt guys. If you think that jumping off a building is tough try it in a guerilla suit or try it in a werewolf suit. It makes it a lot more difficult. So everybody that’s on the set loves the costumes and the makeup and everything like that. So I think it just brings a lot more fun to the table.
Dietsch: Would you say that there’s a different energy on set when making a horror movie, more excitement?
Trejo: Yeah, absolutely because people are comparing it to this horror movie and that horror movie. It’s tough to compare a drama or something like Gone With The Wind, but with horror you’ve got all these little different quirks.
Dietsch: Michael Myers is a character who’s been around for a long time. Do you have your own take on him? Do you see him as pure evil or that he was abused and this is kind of the result of his growing up?
Trejo: Well, I’ve taken the abuse so far [laughs]. I mean, come on. It’s funny because Michael Myers, at first he didn’t kill me. At first I lived and then after they saw the movie everybody noticed that, “Hey, he didn’t kill Trejo”’ So this kind of gave him a redeeming quality which they didn’t want him to have and so they brought me back for it. Rob called me back and said, “Hey, Danny. You know what? We have to kill you.” I said, “Get your other checkbook out.” [laughs] They killed me and re-shot it. I think it was better that they didn’t let me live because tthat took away his redeeming quality.
Dietsch: Do you have a preference for the kinds of movies that you work on?
Trejo: I love action movies. I love action movies. What’s the body count?! Even my agent knows that if the first five pages don’t have a body count of at least three to pass on it. I go to movies to be entertained. Don’t give me anything too heavy because I don’t want to walk out of there going, “Oh, I’m thinking.” [laughs] Not too much plot for me. Just shoot ‘em up.
Dietsch: Do you have a favorite action movie hero like maybe Dirty Harry or somebody?
Trejo: Like I said, I love John Wayne and Kirk Douglas and all the old action hero guys. [Clint] Eastwood was awesome. What can I say? I love movies. I love good movies. I love good action movies.
Dietsch: Do you think that Machete could take Michael Myers?
Trejo: Oh, yeah, absolutely. Machete can take out Superman. We’re going to do that. This is a Robert Rodriguez quote here. You can quote this from Robert Rodriguez. He promises all his fans that we are going to start Machete in January. So that’s a go. I call him every day and I tell him, “Robert, everybody is asking me when we’re doing Machete. He said, “Well, tell them we’re doing it in January.”
Dietsch: Is there a projected release time yet?
Trejo: Probably in the summer. He wants to get it done pretty quick.
Dietsch: We heard that it was going to originally be direct to video, but now it’s theatrical?
Trejo: Oh, yeah, definitely. That’s another quote by Rodriguez.
Dietsch: Can you talk about the plot at all?
Trejo: Well, you know that he’s a federal agent that comes out here from Mexico and he’s double crossed by the mob who’s trying to kill this senator. They double cross him and so he just comes back with a vengeance and I love it because it’s a Charles Bronson Death Wise-type, take no prisoners [movie]. I cut guys in half on that one.
Dietsch: Everyone here is super excited to see it when it comes out.
Trejo: Put that in your article and send it to Robert [laughs].
Dietsch: So the trailer that was in front of Grindhouse, is that still the trailer for the movie or was that a goof?
Trejo: That was just kind of a preview. There’s a whole lot more stuff that they’re doing. There’s stuff when I land that motorcycle. There’s stuff where I cut one guy in half and his legs keep running – some funny shit. It’s really, really heavy stuff.
Dietsch: So the scenes in the trailer will be in the movie?
Trejo: Oh, yeah, absolutely, but the continuation of those scenes because those were just short little scenes.
Dietsch: You’re slated right now to be in Sin City II. Do you know anything about your character or when that will start?
Trejo: Not a thing. I was supposed to be in Sin City and what happened was that I was shooting another film and Robert said, “I have to do this, Danny.” I said, “Go ahead. Go ahead.” So they re-started Mickey Rourke’s character and I’m glad that he did that. He was great in that.
Dietsch: Have you read any of the comics and have a favorite character?
Trejo: Yeah. I met what’s his name [Frank Miller?], but it’s like I said, I have no idea what they’re going to do with me. You never know with Robert. I mean, Robert, that line of his, “Are you a MexiCan or a MexiCan’t?” Robert made that up on the set, right before me and Johnny Depp shot that scene [from Once Upon A Time In Mexico]. It was like, “Here Danny, say this.”
Dietsch: Do you have a favorite Robert Rodriguez movie, one you’ve been in or one that you just love even though you’re not in it?
Trejo: A favorite Rodriguez movie? God, when Salma Hayek was pouring that wine down her leg [in Desperado?], I could’ve watched that for the whole movie [laughs]. That’s what I love. I love those action movies. I loved Spy Kids and that movie gave me this whole new audience.
Dietsch: Do you get recognized a lot when you’re out? I would imagine that you do because you’ve doing films for a long time.
Trejo: Oh, yeah. It’s funny. It’s like people complain about the paparazzi and all that stuff, but I kind of make a decision before I leave the house that I’m going to deal with this. If not, I’ll send someone out and I won’t go out. I tell all actors that if you don’t want to be bothered, don’t go outside. You can avoid it. I see all these people yelling at these camera guys and stuff and I just laugh. It’s like, “Shut up. You did it.”
Dietsch: I wouldn’t think that they get in your face too much.
Trejo: No, no. They’re polite and they ask real nice. “Hey, can we take a picture with you” [And I say,] “Yeah, sure.”
Dietsch: My wife wanted me to ask you what it was like when you did Desperate Housewives.
Trejo: [laughs] You know what, let me tell you something. At first I said no to that. My agent said, “They want you to do Desperate Housewives. They called you.” I said, “No way. Come on, Danny Trejo on Desperate Housewives? That doesn’t fit.” My wife happened to walk by and heard that. She goes, “Are you crazy?! That’s the most popular show on TV.” So I ended up doing it and it’s funny because I hang out at this place called Chubby’s Automotive. It’s over in Sylmar on Polk and San Fernando Road. All of my old ex-convict friends and all my old drug addict friends, ex-drug addict friends, they all hangout there. So they’re always ragging on me when I walk up, like, “Ooh, here comes the movie star,” and all of that stuff. I walked up there and they said, “Ooh, here comes the movie star. What are you working on now?” So I told them Desperate Housewives and if you can imagine all these guys with tattoos and all buffed up and wife beaters on going, “Oh, that’s my favorite show!” They love Desperate Housewives. “Say hello to Eva [Longoria],” [they said].
Dietsch: What was that shoot like? How long were you on the set?
Trejo: About three days and it was blast. They’re so fun and Eva Longoria is like – I love basketball and so I got an autograph picture [of her husband, Tony Parker]. She kind of cracked up because I went over to her and asked her, “Can I have an autographed picture of your old man?” She was a doll.
Dietsch: You’ve done quite a few videogame voices and animated voice work. How is that different than going to the set and working on an actual live action movie?
Trejo: Just showing up. You can show up in pajamas if you want to [laughs]. No makeup or nothing. You just show up in pajamas and say, “Hey, what’s up?” You do it and I hate to say it, but it’s EM: “easy money.”
Dietsch: Do you ever play the games that you’re in?
Trejo: God, no. It takes a genius to play them games.