“They Just F’d with the Wrong Mexican”: Eight of My Favorite Danny Trejo Characters

While perusing Netflix the other day, I got a face-full of something I wasn’t expecting: Danny Trejo. I’d been completely unaware the man had starred in anything lately, but Netflix assured me that because I had a thing for Machete a while back, I’d totally dig this movie called Bad Ass.

“Inspired by” that transit bus fight most of you probably remember, it stars Trejo as a Vietnam veteran-turned-vigilante with itchy, itchy fists. Intrigued, I checked out the trailer, and—holy shit, was that Ron Pearlman? How had I not heard of this movie??


Without doing any additional research, I dove in. And I’ve got to say, I was highly entertained by this flick. If you take Bad Ass for what it is—a loud, fist-filled homage to 1970s vigilante movies—it’s a fun little ride (in a Fast Five sort of way). And it’s a perfect role for Trejo, who’s made a career out of kicking fanny the way only mustachioed Mexican ex-cons can.

The thing is, as great as Trejo is at playing borderline-mute bad guys, he’s got a surprisingly diverse range as an actor, not to mention a penchant for showing up when I least expect him. But let’s cut to the chase: here are some of my favorite Danny Trejo roles.

Mexican Federale turned assassin turned rebel leader (Machete)


For any chicks who made it past the 60-second mark, you may as well take off your shirt and head for the nearest mirror, because this trailer’s notorious for causing sporadic chest and back hair growth. (I watched it six times while writing this article, and now I look like a goddamn werewolf.) Trejo was born for this role, and Machete’s a great throwback to the grindhouse films of yesteryear. Plus this one clip is incredibly fun to play out of context during lame blind dates:


Mexican cartel snitch (Breaking Bad)


It’s no secret that we Unreality folk are big fans of Breaking Bad, and this was a great cameo in a terrific story arc of a fantastic season. Pictures might be worth a thousand words, but Trejo’s dead head is worth a few more (plus a leg or two) when it explodes on top of a turtle.

(Meta-meta-meta bonus: check out the weapon the creepy twins use to decapitate Trejo with at 8:48. I hope I’m not the first to notice this.)

Smooth-operating janitor (Modern Family)

(Sorry, kids. Couldn’t find a good version of this vid to embed.)

See, this is what I’m talking about with Trejo just showing up at random. It makes perfect comedic sense in this cameo, however, for the Mexican janitor to pull out his pimp card (i.e., paper towels) to flirt with Gloria. Still, when I first saw this scene I couldn’t help but get the feeling he might choke-slam her for that annoying set of pipes.

Post-apocalyptic zombie/mutant companion (Fallout: New Vegas)


What, you thought Trejo just did movies and TV shows? I thought Raul’s voice sounded familiar when I played Fallout: New Vegas a couple years ago. Sure enough, a little Internet research led me straight to a familiar tatted-up badass.

Cool-ass bartender (this Rehab music video)


I don’t even remember how I first stumbled across this vid, but Trejo makes for a pretty chill bartender if you ask me. This song’s about f*cking shit up and doing time for it, which is classic Trejo anyway; the man did 11 years for drug and robbery charges before making the (presumably seamless) transition to pretend ass-kicking for money. Just watch him singing along at 2:57; that’s an ex-con who knows what’s up.

Knife-throwing assassin (Desperado)


Here’s another movie where Trejo blends right in, and how many assassins do you know whose weapon of choice is a back brace filled with throwing knives? Zero assassins, probably. That’s how many.

“Mexican Christmas tree”–loving father (A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas)


Yep, Trejo dabbles in comedy too, and the longer this list gets, the more I suspect some typecasting might be afoot with all the Mexican stuff. Anyway, I just think it’s awesome to see Trejo play the role of protective father; I’d let that man adopt me in a New York minute. Sorry, Dad.

But my all-time favorite Danny Trejo might be…

Vampire Trejo!!! (From Dusk ‘Til Dawn)

I have nothing additional to add to this entry (other than that I’m headed back to Netflix now to start a Trejo marathon). Boosh!

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  1. As I once heard someone say, before introducing Trejo: “You may not know his name, but you know the face.” I liked his brief, but memorable role in Heat, as the getaway driver.

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