Dan Trejo is an American actor and restaurateur who has appeared in numerous Hollywood films. His films include Heat, Con Air, Bubble Boy, and Desperado, the latter with frequent collaborator and his cousin Robert Rodriguez. Trejo is perhaps most recognized as the character Machete, originally developed by Rodriguez for the Spy Kids series of movies and later expanded into Trejo’s own series of films aimed at a more adult audience. He has appeared in TV shows such as Stargate Atlantis, Breaking Bad, Brooklyn nine-nine, The X-files, King of the Hill, The Flash, and Sons of Anarchy. He has also appeared in several music videos for the American band Slayer.

Early Life.

Dan Trejo was born on May 16, 1944, on Temple Street in the Echo Park neighbourhood of Los Angeles, California, to Mexican-American parents. He is the son of Alice Rivera and Dionisio “Dan” Trejo (1922–1981), a construction worker. When he was 13 he moved to the diverse Pacoima neighbourhood of Los Angeles, and recalls never really experiencing racism while growing up. Years later he purchased his childhood home and usually lived in it. Prior to his film career, Trejo worked as a labour foreman in construction.

A young Danny Trejo with his parents.

Throughout the 1960s, Trejo was in and out of jail and prison in California; Trejo has suggested that his physical appearance contributed to his constantly getting into trouble. There are conflicting accounts of his prison chronology. By one account, his final term in custody ended in 1972; by another account, he did time in a juvenile offenders’ camp and six California prisons between 1959 and 1969. He recalled that his last prison term was five years.

While serving in San Quentin, he became a champion boxer in that prison’s lightweight and welterweight divisions. During this time, Trejo became a member of a 12-step program, which he credits with his success in overcoming drug addiction. In 2011, he recalled that he had been sober for 42 years.


While Trejo was working as a youth drug counsellor, a teenage patient asked for his assistance dealing with cocaine problems on the set of Runaway Train (1985). Danny Trejo was offered a job as an extra in the film’s prison scenes. Edward Bunker, himself an individual who was formerly incarcerated and at the time a well-respected crime author who was writing the screenplay for the film, recognized Trejo, with whom he had done time at San Quentin. Edward Bunker, remembering Trejo’s boxing skills, offered him $320 per day to train Erick Roberts, one of the movie’s stars, for a boxing scene.

Danny Trejo before a boxing match.

Director Andrei liked Trejo’s work and decided to offer him a small role in the film as a boxer. It has been widely misreported that Danny Trejo was actually serving time in the prison during filming, when he had been released more than a decade earlier.

Since then, Danny Trejo has become a prolific actor in both films and television, appearing in five or more movies per year, in various genres. He has appeared in such major releases as Marked for Death (1990), Blood in Blood Out (1993), Desperado (1995), Heat (1995), From Dusk Till Dawn (1996), Anaconda (1997), Con Air (1997), The Replacement Killers (1998), Six Days, Seven Nights (1998), Animal Factory (2000), Bubble Boy (2001), Spy Kids (2001), XXX (2002), Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003), The Devil’s Rejects (2005)

The Devil’s Rejects cast.

, Snoop Dogg’s Hoods of Horror (2006), Delta Force (2007), Grind House (2007), Rob Zombies Halloween (2007), Urban Justice (2007, ), Valley of Angels (2008), The Haunted World of El Superbeasto (2009, in which he voices the character of Rico), Modus Operandi (2010), Machete (2010), Predators (2010), Bad Ass (2012), Reaper (2014), Preggoland (2014), and Range 15 (2016).

Trejo is known for his distinctive appearance. In addition to his heavily lined face, scarred from cystic acne and boxing brawls, and the long hair and moustache he usually sports, he has displayed the large tattoo on his chest for many roles. Although he has often played thugs or lowlife characters, he has also played sympathetic characters in films such as Robert Rodriguez’s Spy Kids trilogy, Bubble Boy and the USA Network TV show, Monk, where art imitated life in his portrayal of a convict roommate of Tony Shalhoub’s undercover detective. Trejo also appeared on a notable TV show, Desperate Housewives, on Season 2, Episode 8, where, as another good-guy character, he was sent by Carlos to help Gabrielle deal with the grief over losing her unborn baby.

He voiced the character Enrique on King of the Hill, Octavio character on the show is based on Danny Trejo’s appearance. His role on King of the Hill was referred to in the HBO series, Unscripted, where he had a cameo appearance. In 2008, Danny Trejo portrayed a Mexican bartender in the daytime soap opera The Young and the Restless. 2019 Danny Trejo had a supporting role in the film, Acceleration, as Santos.

Personal Life.

Trejo owns a home in the San Fernando Valley. His two children are now with his former wife Debbie; he filed for divorce in 2009.

Danny Trejo’s family

Trejo owns several ventures in the food and restaurant business. As of January 2016, these included a taco restaurant on La Brea Avenue in Los Angeles, his own brands of beer, coffee, and various merchandise, with ice cream sandwiches under development. Trejo’s Donuts is located on the northeast corner of Santa Monica Blvd and Highland Avenue.

In August 2019, Trejo witnessed a car colliding at an intersection with an SUV and helped extract a five-year-old trapped in a child safety seat inside the overturned SUV. Trejo was quoted saying about the incident: “Everything good that has happened to me has happened as a direct result of helping someone else. Everything.”

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