Danny Trejo’s never met a movie role he didn’t like. Since breaking into the film industry in 1985, after spending a majority of his adulthood in and out of prison, Trejo’s familiar chiseled-with-a-serrated-edge look has earned him screen time in over 140 movies, including “Bound by Honor,” “Con Air,” and just about every film directed by his cousin Robert Rodriguez. In “Machete,” Trejo, 66, plays the title character, a revenge-seeking, blade-wielding former Mexican Federale with an ax to grind (literally). He spoke to me via phone about starring in the first lead role of his career.
You’ve been in the industry for over 20 years. Did you always think a lead role like this was going to come sooner or later if you were just patient enough?
You know, acting to me is like any other job. It’s like a painter or a plumber. You just keep working. It’s just a job that I love. Everybody’s asking me if I’m just going to take lead roles now. Hell no! Give me a job. Like a housepainter, I’ll paint whatever house you want me to paint.
You must be the hardest working house-painter in the business. Your imdb.com page lists you in 20 movies this year.
(Laughs) Yeah, I’m starting to do everything. I just did a movie in Austin with a young, first-time director. They paid me $100. My son is producing a movie right now called “Skinny Dip.” He better give me a job.
Can you give me an example of a role you might turn down?
If the bad guy wins, I probably wouldn’t do it. They always say, “Oh, you’re always the killer or the robber,” but I always die! Even Al Pacino got killed off in “Scarface.” That’s life.
Yeah, I was a bit disappointed you made an early exit in “Predators.”
(Laughs) Well, they had to kill me off quick because I made everyone else look too soft.
This movie has been a rumor for a long time. How much pestering did it take from you to get Robert to finally do it?
I was calling him every day! There’s a line in the movie that says, “Machete don’t text.” It’s in the movie because Robert kept telling me, “Stop calling me! Just text me! I can’t always answer the phone!” I told him, “Machete don’t text.” So, he put it in the script!
Any dramatic roles in your future?
Well, I did a movie called “Sherrybaby” [in 2006]. But dramatic movies…they bore me, holmes. It’s like, “Wake me up when I gotta be on set!” I love action roles. I love shooting and running over buildings and jumping through windows.
And it’s probably easier to cuddle up with actresses like Jessica Alba and Michelle Rodriguez when you’re playing a badass.
Oh, you watch. The things I do with Jessica in this movie, I’m like, “Thank you, Jesus!” God worked overtime for me on that one.