Saturday , June 15 2024
Danny Trejo with moderator Kid Cadet (Credit: Pat Cuadros)

An Actor’s Life: Danny Trejo’s Nightmare Weekend

Danny Trejo (Machete, From Dusk Till Dawn, Predators) came to Richmond, Virginia, for the first ever Nightmare Weekend, a horror comic con presented by GalaxyCon. The 79-year-old actor is keeping busy unveiling new, tasty treats at his restaurants and promoting the memoir he co-wrote with Donal Logue: Trejo: My Life of Crime, Redemption, and Hollywood.

On Donuts and Tacos

Trejo’s Donuts is a popular shop in Los Angeles, California. Trejo loves the new pineapple fritter donut, which has pineapple, cinnamon and a scrumptious glaze. He advised that you limit yourself to two or “you’ll need rehab.”

He said, “That’s one of my favorites, but there’s so many. We have completely different flavors than anybody else. I think that’s why the place is always crowded.”

As for Trejo’s Tacos, it’s expanding beyond California with new locations arriving in Detroit and London soon. There’s been a lot of interest in his tacos since he started in 2016, even in the world of video games. Far Cry 6 featured a mission where the player needs to protect Trejo, who is cooking and then delivering tacos.

In real life, his children are gamers. Once when they were playing the game, they called him to say, “Hey Dad, we’re killing ya!”

“I’m an Actor”

When he started gaining in popularity early in his career, Trejo received a valuable piece of advice from his friend, Eddie Bunker. “Try to remember that the whole world can think you’re a star, but you can’t.” 

Trejo was determined to stay grounded on film sets and not allow fame to change him. He regards acting as the same as any other profession. “I won’t be called a movie star. I’m an actor. I’m a guy for hire.”

He has always focused on maintaining a healthy mindset after filming. “Immediately when I finished, I’d go talk to my kids or grab a puppy, anything to get out of ‘Oo, I’m a movie star!'” 

On Crying on Camera

With more than 400 acting credits, Trejo’s career has included a variety of roles. One recent challenge was the father role in From a Son, a drama about a father searching for his drug-addicted son. It was written and directed by his son, Gilbert Trejo. In one scene, Danny Trejo had to cry, something he’s never had to perform on camera. He remembered feeling puzzled when Gilbert kept showing him baby pictures for several days beforehand.

When the time came to shoot a confrontational and dramatic moment with co-star Sasha Frolova, he didn’t let out the light sniffle that he initially envisioned. He said, “This was a booger cry. I don’t know if any of you ever had that. I couldn’t stop. When [Gilbert] finally said ‘Cut!,’ the whole crew was crying.”

“I think it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in film because you have to put yourself in a place of pain.”

Photo of Danny Trejo and Kid Cadet
Danny Trejo demonstrates to Kid Cadet how he shifts to bad guy mode (Credit: Pat Cuadros)

On Helping Out in Your Community

Aside from his culinary and acting pursuits, Trejo is known for helping people whom he encounters. In 2019, he and a fellow bystander saved a child trapped in an overturned car.

At Nightmare Weekend’s Q&A, I asked Trejo how young people can follow his example and lend a helping hand to others in need.

Starting is the “hardest part,” but Trejo said that it’s important to try anything you can. He and his friends offered food to strangers at first. With a pickup truck, they gave rides to people and transported furniture. Trejo checked in with older residents to ask them, “Do you need anything from the grocery store?”

One time, a neighbor knocked at his door and handed his housemate Angel the keys to her house. She wanted Trejo and his friends to watch the house and feed her cat during her trip out of town. He said, “Angel and Joey walked the perimeter every day [and] every night. They checked the windows. The cat got fat!”

For Trejo, you don’t have to go very far to make a positive impact in someone’s life. “Humanity is next door! It’s not like I have to run over here or over there to help. I can help people in my neighborhood. I love doing it.”

Follow Danny Trejo on X (formerly Twitter) and Instagram for his latest updates.

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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