Friday , May 24 2024
Danny Trejo and moderator Tony B Kim (Credit: Pat Cuadros)

Awesome Con: Danny Trejo Talks Films and Restaurants

Actor Danny Trejo (The Book of Boba Fett, Machete, Desperado) came to Awesome Con (Washington, D.C.’s Comic Con) to discuss his career and latest projects. These include a recent venture into running his new restaurants, Trejo’s Tacos, and a new record label, Trejo’s Music.

Trejo’s first acting job was on Runaway Train, which came about when he was visiting a friend. Someone noticed him standing there and asked, “Do you want be in this movie? Do you want to be an extra? I asked, an extra what?”

On Danny Trejo’s Restaurant Empire

During an Awesome Con panel, Trejo pointed out that he’s climbed in his career because of the idea that “every time you help someone, good stuff happens.”

And that was true when he agreed to work on the low-budget film, Bad Ass. On the set, producer Ash R. Shah saw that Trejo liked to eat good food. Trejo remembered Shah approaching him and saying “Daniel, why don’t you open a restaurant?” “Jokingly, I said, ‘Trejo’s Tacos!'”

Today, Trejo has five restaurants offering healthy Mexican food. He participates actively in the business, so you might see him offering you a taco—perhaps the cauliflower taco, one of the newest menu items. Restaurants are coming in Detroit and London.

Photo of Danny Trejo holding a cell phone
Credit: Pat Cuadros

But it’s probably a good idea to avoid Buckingham Palace on his next trip to London. While filming Muppets Most Wanted there, he and a friend stopped by the palace gates. When a Rolls Royce came through the gates, his sense of humor kicked in. He “started screaming, Elizabeth! Elizabeth! It’s me, your son! Remember Juan the gardener?”

“I didn’t know you can’t do that. Everybody laughed, but the people on [the other] side didn’t. Anyway, we left!”

On Working with Robert Rodriguez

Trejo’s longtime collaboration with Robert Rodriguez began with Desperado.

When he first walked into Rodriguez’s office, the director said, “God, you look like the bad guys in my high school.”

Trejo responded, “I am those bad guys in your high school!” 

Eventually, they worked together on a memorable character named Machete in the Spy Kids series and then Machete’s own films. Trejo hopes to add a third installment to Machete’s story.

Of the first Machete film, Trejo said, “It was an amazing movie. What just blew my mind was when Halloween came around, all the little kids started coming up the house with their little painted mustaches.”

Actor Danny Trejo sitting and smiling
Credit: Pat Cuadros

On ‘The Muppets’ and ‘The Masked Singer’ Appearances

Trejo always loved working on The Muppets television show and movies. “At the end of the day, you feel like an idiot because you’re talking to puppets like they were real. I mean, you can’t help it! It is so unbelievable the people that handle them. You can’t take pictures of them laying down.”

Another fun project for Trejo was The Masked Singer. “They asked me. I did it because the raccoon [costume] looked exactly like my dog.”

On Helping Young People

On top of these busy pursuits, Danny Trejo dedicates time to connecting with young people. He visits schools to emphasize the importance of education, urging students to stay away from drugs and alcohol. “We’ve got kids dying of overdoses in junior high, [and] we’ve got kids being shot at parties. That’s my main concern. Something is wrong when young people think this is what [they] have to do.”

Another issue was the ongoing border crisis. Trejo wanted to help the children staying in government intake centers and shelters in California. These children from Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala and other places were dropped off at the border by parents concerned about the cartels fighting.

However, Trejo initially wasn’t allowed to visit a shelter in Pomona because of the “political basketball.” When he reached out to Governor Gavin Newsome, he finally received support for his request to do a show.

“These kids hadn’t even laughed since they got there. It’s a different country, [they] can’t speak the language and have no idea what’s going on.”

One of the artists on Trejo’s label, Amoraa J, sang to the children. They responded well to the singer, who according to Trejo, looks and sounds like Selena.

“Pretty soon, all the staff started crying. The kids were jumping and running. Immediately, Long Beach—where they housed the other 500 kids—called us up and said, ‘Would you come down here?’ That’s the stuff I like to do.” 

About Pat Cuadros

Pat Cuadros is Pop Culture Editor for Blogcritics Magazine. She frequently covers TV, film and theater. Her portfolio includes interviews with Ndaba Mandela and actors Juliette Binoche, Fran Drescher, Derek Jacobi and Brent Spiner. She's also spoken with notable voice actors Petrea Burchard, Garry Chalk, Peter Cullen and Brian Drummond.

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