Death Race 3: Inferno, available on DVD/Blu-ray on January 22nd with deleted scenes and “making of” features, finds the legendary Frankenstein (aka Carl Lucas, played by Luke Goss) – the greatest Death Race driver of all time – battling for his freedom through the South African desert, in a vicious winner-take-all race that pits teams of convicts against each other to the death. This action-packed thrill-ride also stars Danny Trejo, Ving Rhames, Dougray Scott and Tanit Phoenix.
During this recent exclusive phone interview with Collider, actor Danny Trejo talked about how much fun it is to be a bad-ass, why he’s enjoyed being a part of the Death Race movies, that he could personally identify with his character, how he loves getting to do action work, getting to have a romance in the film, what it was like to work in South Africa, and that he would definitely be up for doing more Death Race films. He also talked about his experience on the hit FX drama series Sons of Anarchy, what makes Machete Kills bigger and badder, and all of the roles he has coming up next, including In the Blood with Gina Carano, Force of Execution with Steven Seagal and Reach Me with Sylvester Stallone. Check out what he had to say after the jump.
DANNY TREJO: Thank you! It feels really good. I’ve been really, really blessed.
Have you enjoyed being a part of these Death Race movies, with hot chicks, cars, explosive action, big weapons and tons of stunts?
TREJO: In order to make a great, epic movie, you have to have the four Bs – babes, bullets, blood and blades. With the four Bs, you’re going to have a great movie, and that’s Death Race 3. You’ve got Tanit Phoenix, who is look out, here she comes gorgeous with a really good heart, and Luke Goss is a really good actor. We had a lot of fun. The whole movie, from day one, was just action-packed. We’d start out in the morning, chasing baboons off the set. If you’re a city slicker, you think of baboons as cute monkeys. But, they open their mouths at you and there are these huge, two-inch canines. That’s the way we started every morning. And then, from then on, it was just one action-packed scene after another. We filmed in a tunnel that was a mile long. It was a lot of fun, and it’s a great, great movie.
With your background, and the fact that you’ve turned your own life around and found a second chance through acting, did you find yourself personally relating to and having a connection with a character like Goldberg?
TREJO: I relate to any prison movie, as long as it has some authenticity. This one has a lot of authenticity, and so do the characters. The characters that are in the movie, I’ve done time with. That makes it really, really easy to work.
You always get to play a real bad-ass, but sometimes your characters are good guys and sometimes they’re bad guys. How much fun was it for you to get to be one of the heroes, this time around?
TREJO: It’s all really fun. I love to work, so give me what you’ve got. I’ll play a tree, if you want me to. If you want fruit on it, then pay me more money. Otherwise, I just love to work. The characters are not me, but I can relate to them and I can do whatever I want with them. I like that.
Do you like getting to do the more physical work, with the stunts and the fights?
TREJO: Absolutely! You’re not going to get bored. Just the anticipation of a stunt is going to take a day. It gets to be a lot of fun. And I love working with people that love what they’re doing. If you look at this cast and this director, Roel Reiné, they all love what they’re doing. That’s where the attitude of a movie comes down. It’s from the director.
TREJO: When I show up, I’m going to just jump in and have a good time with it. We just had a blast on this movie. The little girl that I escape from prison with was a lot of fun. She’s actually a DJ in Cape Town, South Africa.
What was it like to get to work in South Africa? Did you get to spend any time just hanging out there?
TREJO: We shot on location, so it was a blast. We were all over South Africa. That’s why I saw baboons, cheetahs and elephants. I had been in Cape Town before. I did Death Race 2 there. Before that, 10 years ago, we did From Dusk Til Dawn 2 and 3 there. If I ever move out of Los Angeles, it will be to Cape Town, South Africa.
Are you surprised about how successful the Death Race movies have been, and would you be up for doing more of them?
TREJO: Absolutely, I would do more of them! I love doing them! The Death Race movies have been so much fun. I love working with people that love what they’re doing. That automatically makes it fun to do, when everybody is just in love with what they’re doing. I know people that hate going to work.
TREJO: No, I had no idea how popular it was. Now, I’ve realized that it’s one of the top shows on TV right now. There’s a great comradery with all the guys. It’s like really being in a bike club. We rescue animals and when Tig saved that pit bull, Kim Coates became the poster child for animal rescue. I got calls from all over the United States saying, “We love him!” I told him that he’s the poster child now. It was funny because he was like, “I take acting lessons with my coach, and what do I get famous for? Holding a puppy!” It really came out good. It was a great story!
What was it like to also get to return to the character of Machete, and do something bigger and badder for Machete Kills?
TREJO: You said it! It’s a lot bigger and a lot badder, with a bigger cast. We have Mel Gibson. We have Charlie Sheen. We have Lady Gaga. We have Amber Heard. We have Alexa Vega, from Sky Kids, who can no longer be called a kid. She’s like, damn! We have Cuba Gooding, Jr. We have Antonio Banderas. We have Sofia Vergara. I had a love scene with Amber Heard. Robert Rodriguez said, “Okay, action! Amber, why are you laughing?” She said, “Because Danny won’t stop saying, ‘Thank you, Jesus!’”
TREJO: I started out in 1985, and I was Inmate #1 in every prison movie made from ‘85 to ‘93. I would be content right now, just with making it to Inmate #1. I was cool with that. I’ve been so blessed. I’ve gotten to work with some of the world’s greatest actors and some of the world’s most beautiful women.
Do you know what you’ll be doing next?
TREJO: Right now, I’m going to be working on In The Blood in Puerto Rico. That’s with Gina Carano and Stephen Lang. And I’m going to be doing Force of Execution with Steven Seagal. I just finished Reach Me, and that’s with Sylvester Stallone and Tom Sizemore. And I did The Contractor. And then, I did Chavez with Steven Bauer and James Russo. I did a film with the same director of Death Race 3, called Dead in Tombstone. That’s with Mickey Rourke. And I did Zombie Hunter, which was a lot of fun. And I did The Darkness Descending, where I played an angel. They were all a lot of fun!
Death Race: Inferno is available on DVD/Blu-ray on January 22nd.