AUSTIN – No matter how you say the name — and in “Machete Kills,” it’s said a lot — Danny Trejo’s role of Machete in Robert Rodriguez’ movies makes a very distinct impression.
In an interview with HitFix during the promotion of “Kills” at Fantastic Fest, Trejo, co-star Alexa Vega and Rodriguez talked about the image and place in modern cinema Machete holds. Audiences “identify” with the ex-Federale, unstoppable hero because “he’s not flying, not wearing tights. He’s just a guy,” Trejo said. He said he looks like a guy you ask “if you need help moving.”
But Trejo’s portrayal is also one of the few roles that puts an older Latino in the lead protagonist seat. “I think it’s important to have another one of those,” Rodriguez said of making the sequel, “whether people wanted it or not.”
“In my neigborhood [growing up], when we used to see a hero, it was like, ‘Damn… he’s pretty.’ Not all guys look like that,” Trejo said. “I mean… I’m not pretty.”
Vega — who helped lead Rodriguez’ successful “Spy Kids” movies — comforted her co-star, though her character KillJoy in the film is among the cast of Rodriguez’ “babes,” a stand-in for prettiness (even when its villainous, too).
To be a babe in a pulpy Rodriguez film, according to Vega, “takes serious…”
“Cajones!” Trejo chimed in.
“Attitude,” Vega concluded, saying it took a good amount of confidence and comfort with herself to walk onto the “Machete Kills” set with assless chaps and metal bras. She was also comforted that, for the women in Rodriguez’ films, “you know it’s gonna come out looking great.”
Trejo sees a great amount of strength in all of Rodriguez’ characters, including the babes. “There’s nobody weak. Doesn’t matter what role they have, it’s a strong persona. It’s not stereotypical.”
Coming from working with Rodriguez as a young girl in “Spy Kids,” Vega said “it took a lot of convincing” to land this role as a sexy, 25-year-old brothel-occupying assassin. “That outfit helped me pull it off.”
Watch the complete interview above. “Machete Kills” hits theaters wide on Friday (Oct. 11).