Director Robert Rodriguez unveiled his latest action movie Machete at the famed Orpheum Theatre in Downtown Los Angeles on Wednesday night August 25th. Machete stars longtime side-role man Danny Trejo who is known for his criminal portrayals and his perfect stone-cold low-life look. His face looks like you can rock-climb on it said Robert Rodriguez in reference to Dannys face before the premier. This film marks a special turn for the veteran actor because not only is it his first movie lead but its also rarity that a Mexican American to have a headlining lead role in an action movie. Danny Trejo invited AllHipHop.com to the movie premier and for an exclusive sit-down interview in which the OG veteran talks about his career, life challenges and of course the new blood-thirsty action movie. Machete which opens in theatres on September 3rd also stars Michelle Rodriguez, Jessica Alba, Cheech Marin, Don Johnson, Steven Seagal as Mexican drug lord Torrez, Robert DeNiro as the anti-immigration Senator John McLaughlin and a very nude pre-County Jail Lindsay Lohan. The interview starts below the epic poster of Senor Trejo.
AllHipHop.com: Thank you for having us here today Danny.
Danny Trejo: Its an honor to be here and its an honor to be considered the first Latino superstar. Or I should say the first Latino action hero!
AllHipHop.com: Youve played a lot of bit parts in movies but this is your first starring role. Why do you think its taken so long for you to get to this point?
Danny Trejo: If it wasnt for Robert Rodriguez, I still wouldnt be at this point! I think Hollywood is afraid to realize that the Latino audience is the largest that theyve got. As long as they think that a Latino cant carry a movie, its going to stay that way. Robert Rodriguez who is innovative and brilliant, he knows what weve got. The other great thing is that he put some strong Latina ladies in the movie like Michelle Rodriguez and Jessica Alba. Lindsay Lohan also stars in the movie and she might as well be Latina (laughs).
AllHipHop.com: Whats the premise of the movie aside from you killing everybody?
Danny Trejo: Machetes family gets killed in Mexico. He escapes Mexico to get away from the drug cartels. Everybody thinks its about Immigration. Its not! Its about the corruption. Its not about the guy coming across the border to get a job. Its about the people on both sides making the money off of that guy coming over the border. Every time the politicians need votes, they start talking about Immigration. The drug cartels also need people to cross that border. It adds a whole different twist in which you will see in the movie.
AllHipHop.com: You guys leaked a fun trailer tying the movie in to the Arizona Immigration Law. That may be the reason why some think its solely about that issue. The saying on that trailer was, They picked the wrong Mexican to f*** with.
Danny Trejo: (says in a sly low voice) They picked the wrong Mexican to f*** with (laughs). The timing is incredible because we did this movie many months ago. The Arizona law blew up and people have related it to the movie but it has nothing to do with it. We just had a blast with the making of the movie and I even got to kiss Jessica Alba. Need I say anymore?
AllHipHop.com: What are your thoughts on the Arizona Immigration Law?
Danny Trejo: I know that smarter minds are going to prevail on that issue. Like I said, every time politicians need some votes and the sheriff wants to get re-elected, they immediately start talking about Immigration. Yes I feel that something has to be done, but not just politicians giving lip-service and not passing laws that are against the Constitution of the United States. Brilliant minds have to sit down and figure out what to do and what is fair to everybody. If there is a guy that comes to America and hes working and paying taxes, he should be here. If someone is sneaking across the border to bring in drugs, then deport them. They should go to Prison and thats how everybody feels. Im for anybody here paying taxes – because I have to pay them too.
AllHipHop.com: I read that you got your start in acting due to a friend recognizing you on a movie set while you were a visitor. I bet when you were younger you never envisioned yourself as an actor.
Danny Trejo: I was a drug counselor and I walked on to a movie set to help somebody and I ran in to a guy named Eddie Bunker, who was the films screenwriter. To me he was one of Americas greatest writers and unfortunately he passed away. If you ever want to read a great book on the criminal mind, read Education of a Felon. Eddie had offered me a job training Eric Roberts how to box for the movie Runaway Train. The director of the movie saw that I had a mean look and gave me a role as a boxer in the film. I was already training Eric how to box and he doesnt look mean – so we made sure it was a good fight.
AllHipHop.com: Did you have a hard transition in to acting?
Danny Trejo: No, because the first five years of my career I was playing Inmate Number One. I had bad guy roles and I know how to be that – so it was pretty easy. At first I was just having fun and then I realized that I could really do this. My first speaking role was in Death Wish 4 with Charles Bronson. Basically we are all actors. A good liar can be a good actor. If you ever stood in front of your mom and explained to her why you got home at 2:30 a.m. instead of 11:00 p.m. using excuses like a fire happening or that you got a flat tire – thats acting! Or when you are standing on the prison yard waiting for some sh*t to come down and youre trying not to look scared, thats acting too.
AllHipHop.com: What about roles that dont require you to be a violent felon? Are you looking to do those too?
Danny Trejo: I honestly believe that acting is like painting a house or being a plumber – its my job. Ill do whatever you hire me to do. I dont go out looking for anything in particular. If something comes around that I like, Ill do. But I did do a movie called Sherriebaby, that I didnt really want to do. It starred Maggie Gyllenhaal and it was a good script, but for me there was no action in it. Yet because of that movie, I got to go all over the world and everybody loved it. When I go to speak at womens prisons, they tell me that Maggie really nailed that role.
AllHipHop.com: We could have used you in “The Expendables” movie. What happened man?
Danny Trejo: (Laughs) I make all of those guys look too soft. They said I was in it but they just forgot to tell me. Did you hear that Sylvester Stallone?
AllHipHop.com: Lets talk about music for a second. What do you like to listen to?
Danny Trejo: Im sorry guys. I have love for Hip-Hop, but Im an Oldies guy. (Danny starts singing) Sugar, Sugar, how you get so fly? I like that song by Baby Bash. I also like Tech N9ne, 50 Cent, Eminem and a lot of others. However when it comes to bumping stuff, you are never going to beat Mary Wells.
AllHipHop.com: A lot of Hip-Hop songs were built from Oldies.
Danny Trejo: Absolutely, but when Im driving in the car and I hear Baby, Im Yours by Barbara Lewis – its like damn! I used to cruise all of these streets. I grew up in Pacoima, Sun Valley, Los Angeles, North Hollywood, Van Nuys – I cruised them all. I remember when you used to be able to cruise Whittier Blvd. and Van Nuys Blvd. I used to do it all.
AllHipHop.com: Are there any other genres of music that you enjoy?
Danny Trejo: (Sings the Texas Tornados spanglish song) Hey baby, que paso? Thought I was your only vato?
AllHipHop.com: So you really like Baby Bash?
Danny Trejo: Hes one of my guys. I met him when he was like 17 years old and weve stayed friends. The same with Kid Frost. I actually met Bash through Kid Frost. I love their stuff and I love the new stuff that Bash comes out with.
AllHipHop.com: I know you go to their premiers and events. Do you ever feel out of place? You know, like the old man at the club?
Danny Trejo: The reception that I get is really great so that makes it fun. Bash always calls me every time that hes in town and Ill come and show up at a show for him.
AllHipHop.com: Now that youve got Machete out of the way, what other movies do you have lined up?
Danny Trejo: I have another film called Vengeance thats coming out October 15th I believe. Thats another action packed film and Ill be a hero in that. I did another one called Ranchero thats going to be coming out. Then I did the new Harold & Kumar movie – thats a fun one coming out. Theres also a TV show called Good Guys that should be coming out.
AllHipHop.com: Any directing aspirations?
Danny Trejo: No but my son Gilbert Trejo is producing and co-directing a movie called Skinny Dip with a guy named Frankie Latina – and they better give me a job! My daughter is acting in that film. As a matter of fact, my son and my daughter are in Machete. Im giving them jobs because they are going to take care of me when I get old (laughs). As far as directing goes, I enjoy working as an actor too much. A Director is like a Captain of the ship. Hes the first one aboard and the last one to leave. I watch Robert Rodriguez work and it really takes a special kind of person to be a Director. You have to put up with everybodys attitudes and I mean us Actors.
AllHipHop.com: Damn, you guys really are that hard to put up with.
Danny Trejo: Id like a Tri-Latte with Soy (laughs).
AllHipHop.com: I wonder what the riders in your contract state? You must have a long list of stuff like having only Green M&Ms in your dressing room.
Danny Trejo: (Laughs) Mine just says to have everybody show up on time. But seriously, whenever I am on set all I do is have the production crew find a local High School or Juvenile Hall and to give me one day off so I can do that.
AllHipHop.com: Thats cool that you take the time to talk to the youth.
Danny Trejo: You have to! Youve got to give back. This career that Ive had and this business that Im in is a blessing. Everybody who doesnt take it as a blessing seems to have problems in their lives. I dont mean everyday problems because we all have those. But I do go to High Schools and Juvenile Halls and do as much as I can do.
AllHipHop.com: You being a former Prison inmate, what is the main message that you give these kids?
Danny Trejo: If you take drugs and alcohol out of your life, it will get better. Society tells us that drugs and alcohol is cool and its not. It destroys lives. I also talk to the kids about problems with gangs. The worst three words in the American language is, Where you from? Those three words are killing our kids and keeping them in Prison. I tell them that education is the key to anything that you want to do. Drugs and alcohol are the keys to ruining your life. It is that simple. If you are having problems with your parents, drugs and alcohol will make those problems worse. If you take it out of your life, your relationship with your parents will get better. The same goes for school. My passion is talking to kids and the movie industry has opened the doors for me to do that. When I arrive at a school, the kids are already eager to hear what I have to say.
AllHipHop.com: What was the moment of clarity for you? The moment that you turned your life around for the better?
Danny Trejo: I was in the Penitentiary on my way to the gas chamber. There was a riot in Soledad and people got hurt. I was put in the Hole from Cinco De Mayo until August. I remember saying, God if you are there, then everything is going to be alright. If youre not, then Im f***ed. I got out of the Hole in August and the charges were dropped, so obviously he was there. I pledged my life to helping other people and thats what Ive done. As you can see my life has turned out pretty sweet.