Danny Trejo turns 70 years old today as the hardest working man in Hollywood. Just take a gander at Trejo’s IMDB and be amazed. The actor has 16 movies right now that are in post-production, and he probably signed contracts on a few more just this week. We’re thinking that Danny and Mick Jagger must be the craziest and busiest 70-year-olds alive right now.
Danny’s come a long way for a guy with a long past–that included a stint in prison that helped turn him into a natural as a cinematic tough guy. A guy can’t make that many movies without a few roles getting forgotten, though. We’re looking back at our 10 favorite Danny Trejo performances. Some are classics, but others need to be rediscovered as part of Danny Trejo’s cinematic legacy. And we know there are plenty more roles to catch up on…
10. Sons of Anarchy
Danny really shines in his role as Romeo on the hit FX show Sons of Anarchy. The role is a bit of a departure for Trejo, since he’s playing a badass on the legit side of the law. If you haven’t seen Sons of Anarchy, it’s definitely worth your time. Check out the first 5 seasons on Netflix. It’s another excuse to see Danny shine.
9. Muppets Most Wanted
Role: Danny Trejo
Danny kills it as a prisoner in Muppets Most Wanted. We know, that a Muppets movie isn’t usually Danny’s speed, but he’s hilarious as a prisoner in the Russian gulag. The best part? He’s playing himself–well, a fictionalized version who’s a singer, dancer, and, um, murderer.
The 1997 classic Anaconda takes the cake as an awesomely bad movie. It’s campy, ridiculous, and fun as all hell. Danny’s great in the movie with a small part as the snake poacher at the beginning. We don’t want to ruin anything for you. but let’s just say Trejo has a memorable goodbye very soon.
If you haven’t seen the 1995 classic, Heat, do yourself a favor and rent it immediately. Once again, Danny doesn’t have the biggest part in the movie–and yet he serves as one of the more memorable characters, even with other heavy hitters like Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro. Also keep in mind that his character’s name is “Trejo,” which is pretty great.
6. Con Air
Role: Johnny 23
If you haven’t seen Con Air, you should just stop reading now because we’re ashamed for you. Who wouldn’t want to see Nicolas Cage donning long hair and a pretty bad Southern accent? More importantly, you get to see Danny as a total psychopath who’s at home on a plane full of convicts.
5. Breaking Bad
Breaking Bad is arguably the best drama to ever air on television. As usual, Danny was able to score a juicy role in something that’s critically acclaimed. His role as DEA informant Tortuga also made for one of Breaking Bad‘s earliest unforgettable moments.
4. From Dusk Till Dawn
Role: Razor Charlie
Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez go together like cheese and wine–so when they co-wrote From Dusk Till Dawn, they changed the game forever. The movie starts out as two criminals on the run, and then turns into a full-on horror movie with a bunch of vampires at a bar in Mexico. Danny plays easily the scariest of the vampires–a bartender named Razor Charlie, who you do not want to mess with. The movie was actually just developed into a TV show by Robert Rodriguez, and everyone’s hoping for some Danny cameos there.
3. Bad Ass
Role: Frank Vega
Danny Trejo as a decorated war hero who beats up skin heads for being awful people? Yep, we buy it and highly suggest this underrated film. The movie was based on one of the greatest viral videos of all time (that being “Epic Beard Man,” yo) and we’re guessing the guy was more than flattered to have a man like Danny Trejo play him. Check out the trailer here.
Writer/Director Robert Rodriguez helped Danny get on his way to super-stardom when he gave him easily the most memorable role in the 1995 cult classic Desperado–which starred Selma Hayak and Anthony Banderaz. Trejo stole the movie with his character of Navajas, the insane knife thrower. The role introduced Danny as an iconic presence, with that (real) tattoo of a girl on his chest and a perpetual scowl. You could see that Rodriguez was tinkering around with his vision of Danny’s true starring role, which would be…
Role: Machete (obviously)
This has been Danny’s tour-de-force role, the role that the 70-year-old actor was born to play. From the moment that Machete and Machete Kills comes onto your screen, you’re in for a wild ride with Trejo showing the world just how much of a bad ass he is. Also, Machete Kills has Sophia Vergara being really, really hot. Most importantly though, you get to see Danny Trejo do what Danny Trejo does best–which is killing a bunch of people onscreen.