Danny Trejo is at Comic-Con this afternoon with director (and cousin) Robert Rodriguez to pump up interest in Machete, the film Fox releases in early September. But Trejo has more on his mind tonight than slinging free tacos to the geek contingent (which he is doing). Trejo is using the momentum from Machete, his recent appearance in Predators and the upcoming Spy Kids 4 to begin generating his own branded action vehicles. Might the reformed tough guy—who did hard prison time as a teenager before transforming himself into a drug counselor and finding his way accidentally into a movie career that spans nearly 200 films—be on the verge of a leading man career as the Latino Charles Bronson?
Trejo has completed his first film, the Gil Medina-directed Vengeance. Trejo self-financed that action vehicle and when he couldn’t get the deal he wanted at AFM, made a plan to give it away free to his fans for a $5 postage and handling fee. Trejo’s projects are now being handled by attorney (and former WME agent) Jeff Shumway, who is shopping a Vengeance sequel, as well as Ambition, an uplifting basketball project based around Utah Jazz star, Paul Millsap and his uncle/agent DeAngelo Simmons, and Legends, which Trejo (who plays the title nightmarish figure) describes as a Goosebumps-like scary movie with a “morality lessons.” That is also directed by Medina, Trejo’s partner. While that film caters to the youth market who knows Trejo from his role as Uncle Machete in the Spy Kids films, Trejo’s priority as a Bronson-like action hero, who is practically capable of killing with a hard stare. Despite his step up to topliner after a long career in supporting roles, Trejo seems unfazed by his changing persona. That became clear when his Heat co-star Robert De Niro showed up to the Machete set to play a supporting role as a crooked politician.
Said Trejo: “When Robert came on the set, he congratulated me, he said, you’re the star here, you’ve really made it, you’re number one, and I looked at him and said, can I get you some coffee, Mr. De Niro? Nothing’s changed. It’s just better jobs with more scenes, and not having to chase jobs when you create them yourself.“ As for Vengeance, Trejo promises he leaves behind a lot of corpses. “The body count is high, I believe I kill everyone in the film who breaks the law, even a little bit,” he told me.
Here is a look at Vengeance: