If you’re a fan of Danny Trejo, you’re going to enjoy going to movie theaters in 2010. That’s because not only is Trejo the lead in Robert Rodriguez’ Grindhouse movie Machete, he plays a killer brought to another planet in director Nimród Antal’s Predators.
When I got to visit the Predators set last December, Trejo spoke to the visiting journalists about both films and his thoughts for sequels to Machete. He also talked about working for Robert Rodriguez, his fellow co-stars, and a lot more. Hit the jump to either read or listen to what he had to say:
Since some of you might not have seen the Predators trailer, I suggest watching it before the interview.
Like I always do…you can either listen to the interview as an audio file by clicking here or you can read the transcript below. Predators gets released July 9, 2010.
Can we just call you Machete from now on?
Danny Trejo: [Laughs] That’s what they’re calling me.
I just want to know. So if I see you at Ralphs, I can just call you Machete?
Trejo: Everybody else does. [Laughs]
I just want to make sure.
Trejo: Everybody either asks me when Machete is coming out or is it done? It’s coming out in April, and Predators is coming out in July, I think. They’re both gonna be great. It was so much fun doing Predators. I mean, it was a lot of fun. We were in Hilo, Hawaii for about a month. In Hilo, all the roots grow on top of the ground. So it was rainy, wet, muddy, and roots. And I was in cowboy boots. [Laughs] But it was just a lot of fun working with people like Adrien Brody, who’s unbelievable, Topher Grace [he said it like “Gray” if you care], Oleg, who I admire with his wrestling, and his fighting. And…oh god, I forget his name but I love him to death…[looks to publicist]…the guy who’s playing the convict. Uh…[publicist says, “Walton Goggins”]…Walton Goggins, yeah. And Alice Braga, you know, who is just a fox. [Laughs] Strike that. Very wonderful actress! [Laughs] And you know, playing with these guys was just amazing. I actually did a film with Alice’s aunt Sonia about ten years ago, who was another amazing actress.
Can you talk about who you play in Predators?
Trejo: I play one of the hunted. I’m a…ok, now how do you make an assassin/drug dealer sound likable? [Laughs] You know, I play one of the guys that the Predator is hunting. And I don’t know if I’m supposed to say, but there’s a group of us that they captured because we’re all killers, and for sport they hunt us. And so we all start coming together trying to fight this Predator. So it’s amazing watching this group of all single kinda killers try to become a unit.
You’ve been working with Robert for so long now. Does he actually incorporate you into the process of developing some of your character traits? Even a movie like this. I’m sure with “Machete” definitely a lot, but with this one too?
Trejo: Well, Robert had been training me…god, that sounds really silly…for Machete since we did Desperado. Everybody thinks that “Machete” came out of a trailer, but it didn’t. Robert told me that he wanted to do this movie called Machete when we were doing “Desperado”. If you look at the character in Machete, it is a metamorphos…[pause]…is that a word? That’s a word, right? You know, I saw Laurence Fishburne [he pronounces it “Fishburg”], and I’m thinking of The Matrix. [Laughs] But you know, he kind of like molded this character of Machete. And then in Predators, he was kind of reluctant to say yeah ok, go ahead and do Predators because it’s a different character, you know? And I wanted to work with Adrien. [Laughs] You know? And Alice Braga. I wanted to work with these people, you know? So I went ahead and did Predators, you know? But you’re gonna be amazed. I know Arnold was great with his muscles, but Adrien just blows him out of the water with his mind. I watched him act, and just even when he’s acting you can almost hear his brain, just doing what he’s supposed to be doing. He’s a fabulous actor. I’ve learned a lot from him.
So you’re saying that winning an Academy Award is probably legitimate. [Laughter]
Trejo: You know, I like that movie…[Laughs] But no, he’s a great actor. They sure picked the right guy.
What’s the last number of months been like for you, two films back to back, and what can you tell us about “Machete”?
Trejo: Well uh…Machete kicks ass. [Laughs] It is a culmination of Desperado, Once Upon a Time in Mexico…there’s even a little bit of From Dusk ‘Til Dawn in there. I think it’s gonna be one of his best. And I’m not just saying that cause I’m the lead, it’s just a great movie. I think everybody’s gonna walk away from that movie with some opinion. It’s a battle for our border, you know? People are really serious about what’s going on with the border, and it shows the negative side of both sides. Not just, you know, we want everybody to cross, or we don’t want anybody to cross. It shows the negative side of both sides. Everybody’s gonna be pissed off.
Is the movie anything like the trailer was in Grindhouse, with the raw quality of the print?
Trejo: Yes. I love that. Get a bag of popcorn and just sit and watch and you go back to the 1960s.
Robert put together such a great cast. What’s it like working with Robert De Niro, and then Steven Seagal, or Lindsay Lohan or some of these great people they put together in the movie?
Trejo: You know, when I first saw Robert De Niro on the set, he came up and his first words to me were, “Don’t make me like this, homes.” You know, that was my line in Heat. And I kind of laughed and he said, “Man, Danny, I’m really proud of you. You’re the lead. This is it, this is you.” And I looked him right in the eyes and I said, “Can I get some coffee, Mr. De Niro?” [Laughter] You know, cause that’s the guy. I couldn’t believe that Robert got De Niro. And then Jessica Alba, you know? And Lindsay Lohan. And Michelle Rodriguez, and Jeff Fahey, and Steven Seagal, and Cheech Marin. It just goes on and on. It was really hard like not just giggling, you know? [Laughs] I mean, when you’re working, just not giggling. You know, like come on, grow up. But it was amazing, and that cast was amazing. The cast for Predators, I mean we got Laurence Fishburne. We have The Matrix in there. It’s unbelievable. Robert just has people that gravitate toward him. They wanna work with him. So any actor that works with him knows it’s gonna be an unbelievable cast because all the A-list wants to work with him.
Can you talk about some of the fights you have with the Predators?
Trejo: Not really, but they’re uh…he eats you. [Laughs] It’s like, before Adrien and Alice get to him, he’s just “boom, boom”, killing us. You know, [we’re] really outgunned, even though I walk around with these two machine guns, and a 9-millimeter, and a knife. My name’s Cuchillo in this, right? For some reason Robert always gives me these sharp objects. I was Navajas in Desperado, I was Razor Charlie in From Dusk ‘Til Dawn, I was Cuchillo in this. And then I was Machete. So he always gives me sharp objects. [Laughs]
Has Robert changed at all? You’re worked with him a number of times. Is he still as crazy enthusiastic every day?
Trejo: I think he’s more. I think he’s more. I think that’s one of the reasons that people love to work with him, because he’s just “there”. Robert is just like, you know, “I don’t like his t-shirt”, you know? What are you talking about, you know what I mean? But he just has an eye for everything that’s going on on the set. You know, some directors just want to direct actors. He just knows everything. And his crew…you remember the program “M*A*S*H”? Remember Radar? How the Lieutenant would turn around and say, “I want the…”, and Radar says, “It’s already there, sir”. That’s the way his crew is. They know him so well that he’ll say, “Let’s –”, and then it’s there already. If you’re gonna work with Robert you’ve gotta know how he’s thinking. And after working with him for awhile, you just kinda know. And I’m telling you, he’s the kind of director that’ll tell you, “Put your chin down a little”, you know? “Put your chin down a little. Look a little more to the left.” So he’s direct, you know? And as an actor I like that. You know, some actors always say, “Can I do another one?” But Robert, Nimrod…once Nimrod and Robert say, “I got it, let’s move on”, well, you don’t have to say, “Can we do another one?” Because he’s got what he wants, and you’re not gonna do it any better. That’s what he wants. And I know that about him. So I just show up and shoot, you know? When he says, “Ok, let’s move on”, you know, it’s like, “oh, you got it”. That means, “That’s the one”. That’s the one he liked. Actors are brats, you know? “Can I do another one?” [Laughs] “I wanna see myself on camera again.” But I’ve learned working with him.
With Machete, do you think that this is something that you guys future movies on, or do you think it was like a one-off?
Trejo: We want Machete, Machete Kills, and Machete Kills Again. [Laughter] That’s mine and Robert’s standards, you know? Every time I text him, he’ll text me back, Machete 2, coming up. [Laughs]
How much involvement has Robert had on this one?
Trejo: He’s kind of behind the scenes on this one. That surprised me, but that purely shows Nimrod’s capability. Because if Robert didn’t like what he was doing, believe me, he would be there. But Nimrod is a great director. He really kinda surprised…you know, I’ve worked with a lot of directors, I think I’ve got 180 movies know. So I kinda know who’s good and who’s full of shit, you know. I love directors that know what they want. You have a lot of directors that shoot ‘til they decide what they want. You know, “Ok, well let’s shoot another one”, you know, “Ok, well let’s shoot another one”, “Ok, well let’s try this.” I love directors that already know what they want, so when you shoot two shots, and then “let’s just get one and go”, you know, and that’s it. Nimrod must have read Robert’s book “Rebel Without a Crew”. [Laughs] Because he’s that proficient.
For more Predators coverage: