Simply put, Danny Trejo is one of the most recognizable actors of the past few decades. While generally cast as a villain or antihero — Con Air, Desperado, Machete, and Heat being prime examples — Trejo has appeared in hundreds of films and television shows in all sorts of roles. Teens and tweens may recognize him from his work in the Spy Kids series, while comedy fans ought to know him from Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy, King of the Hill, and Tim and Eric Awesome Show. The roles keep coming 30-plus years since 1985’s Runaway Train.
Beyond acting, Danny Trejo is now also successful within the restaurant world. A partnership with Jeff Georgino and Ash Shah, Trejo’s Tacos was his first restaurant, which opened in Los Angeles last year. Trejo’s Coffee & Donuts was next, as followed by Trejo’s Cantina. A second Trejo’s Cantina has since opened in Pasadena, while Trejo’s Coffee & Donuts created an Eric Dickerson-approved Los Angeles Rams donut that was featured on the Rams Food Truck. Rumors of an expansion into Las Vegas persist, while Danny Trejo-branded swag — including coffee and hot sauce — has been finding its way into retail stores.
I have read that your partners Ash and Jeff are hoping to turn your restaurant business into a $100 million business. Putting money aside, is there a goal that you are ultimately working towards with your restaurants?danny trejo
Danny Trejo: Well, my goal is to see a lot of obesity disappear, because our country is the only one in the world that has an obesity problem… One of the reasons our health insurance is up so high, because we’re way overweight… I’m 5’7″ and I was weighing 195 pounds – I’m 6’0″ in the movies (laughs) – and really that was a little too much. I took out the carbs and I started eating more at Trejo’s and I am down to 170, so I am staying right there. It feels real good.
Aside from the restaurant, talking about your career, are there any other projects that you are allowed to talk about at this time? Or anything that you’re excited about?
Danny Trejo: Well, the one thing I am excited about most is my son Gilbert. He just wrote a film, it is called From a Son. It is about a drug addict’s son that overdoses and dies, and his father’s journey. It is an amazing story about the pain of drug addiction. Every TV show about drugs shows the cartels, shows these unbelievable cars, shows these gorgeous women. It doesn’t show the people that are using drugs, you know what I mean? It doesn’t show the pain that we cause, the hurt that we cause, the devastation that is caused and the guys that are shooting dope in a dirty gas station… This is about the depths of drug addiction, not the “oh boy, we’re dealing drugs.”
I remember seeing a documentary that talked about how you turned your life around. What exactly inspired you to take that direction? Was there one particular moment?
Danny Trejo: It was 1968, Cinco De Mayo. I was in the hole in Soledad [State Prison] and it was alleged that I threw a rock, it was during a riot, so basically that is a gas chamber offense. So I thought, “Well God I am going to the gas chamber.” I asked God, “Just let me die with dignity, that is all, nothing else. I will say your name every day, I will do whatever I can.”
Now I thought it was just going to be a couple of years, but I got out of the penitentiary in 1969, and I have done whatever I could for my fellow man every day all day long. My life just keeps getting better. You’ve got to take alcohol and drugs out of your life if you have a problem with that. There’s a lot of people that don’t have a problem with alcohol; I’ve watched them let ice melt in their glass. But there’s other people who are bodily and mentally addicted to alcohol and drugs.
So finally, Danny, any last words for the kids?
Danny Trejo: My words for anybody, I would rather shoot for the moon and miss than aim for the gutter and make it. Take drugs and alcohol out of your life and education is the key to anything you want to do.