How Danny Trejo Went From Character Actor To Grindhouse Action Star: A Career Timeline

By: 05.16.14  •  9 Comments
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Danny Trejo might work more than any actor in Hollywood. Granted, a lot of that work is in ridiculously bad movies that can only be found in the darkest depths of Netflix, but hey, it’s work.

How Trejo broke into film is actually pretty remarkable. His youth was filled with drug addiction and a string of robberies that led to a stint in prison. It was only while working as a drug counselor after his release, and visiting a friend on a movie set that he stumbled into show business.

“This guy asked me if I wanted to be in a movie, and I said, “What do I gotta do?” And he said, “Do you want to be an extra?” And I said, “An extra what?” And he said, “Can you act like a convict?” I thought it was the funniest thing I had ever heard. I’d been in every penitentiary in the state. I looked at him and I said, “Well, I’ll give it a shot.”

That film was 1985’s Runaway Train and since then he’s racked up an additional 281 acting credits, far more than Harrison Ford, Samuel L. Jackson, or Jack Nicholson. Danny Trejo turns 70 today, and to celebrate I was going to get a replica senorita chest tattoo, but I’m not much for pain. So instead, here’s Danny Trejo’s timeline from B-film character actor to Robert Rodriguez’s go-to badass, Machete.

1. Runaway Train, Boxer — 1985

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2. Death Wish 4: The Crackdown, Art Sanella — 1987

3. Bulletproof, Sharky — 1988


4. Kinjite: Forbidden Subjects, Inmate — 1989

5. Maniac Cop 2, Prisoner — 1990

6. W.B. Blue And The Bean, Mean — 1990


7. Baywatch, Chulo and Carlos — 1991-1992
“Masquerade” and “Point of Attack”



8. Against The Wall, Luis — 1994

9. Desperado, Navajas — 1995

10. Heat, Trejo — 1995


Warner Brothers

11. From Dusk Till Dawn, Razor Charlie — 1996

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Troublemaker Studios

12. Nash Bridges, Sid Benedict — 1996
“Internal Affairs”

13. Anaconda, Poacher — 1997


Columbia Pictures

14. Con Air, Johnny 23 — 1997

15. Dilemma, Rudy Salazar — 1997


Carpe Diem Pictures

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