Danny Trejo Talks His Life and Legacy on 80th Birthday: ‘Every Day for Me Is Just a Blessing’

Danny Trejo Talks His Life and Legacy on 80th Birthday: ‘Every Day for Me Is Just a Blessing’

The actor says he wants to make one more ‘Machete’ movie as he celebrates his milestone 80th birthday

Danny Trejo is busier than ever at age 80.

The actor, who marks his milestone birthday on May 16, says he is feeling “blessed” as he prepares for upcoming appearances at conventions this summer and finishes filming a film titled Seven Cemeteries.

“I feel blessed, first of all, because I wasn’t supposed to make it out of the ’60s — and I mean 1960s,” he says. “That was a tough time for me, and nobody thought I was going to make it out of there. Now, I’ve been on the good Lord’s time.”

Trejo overcame a troubled childhood growing up in California and a number of jail stints in his 20s before he turned to acting with 1985’s Runaway Train. Nearly four decades later, Trejo has built a legendary body of work through hundreds of roles, including movies like 1995’s Heat and the Machete action films.

“Anytime somebody asks me did I ever imagine, I never imagined getting out of prison. The last thing I heard the parole board say in 1969 was, ‘Bring us back a life sentence. We’re sick and tired of you,’” Trejo says. “I never went back. I mean, every day, every day for me is just a blessing.”

Trejo says he’ll celebrate his birthday at a dinner with his three adult children: Danny, filmmaker Gilbert Trejo and Danielle Trejo. “We’ll find a restaurant that we can all agree on, where you have vegan, vegetarian, anything,” he says. “I’m not vegan, I eat healthy, but I’ll not pass up a steak.”

Trejo points to his two Machete action movies, released in 2010 and 2013, by director Robert Rodriguez as some of the high points of his career. He also remembers Heat for the star-studded group of actors he got to work with, including Robert De Niro, Val Kilmer and Jon Voight.

“I worked with all the biggies. They were huge — Al Pacino and the guys I was working with. It was funny, before that you were never included in that upper echelon kind of group,” he said. “And on Heat, man, I’m sitting eating with De Niro and talking about a scene. You know what I mean? It was like [I] really feel like, wow, I’m really an actor.”

At 80, Trejo continues to act frequently: IMDb credits him with 20 acting roles, voice acting roles or onscreen appearances in 2023 and 2024 alone.

When he’s not at work, he says he enjoys driving his vintage cars, including a 1955 Buick Riviera and a 1956 Chevy Bel Air. As far as the future goes, Trejo wants Rodriguez, 55, to write him the long-rumored third Machete movie, Machete Kills in Space, among other upcoming projects he has planned.

“The world is waiting for Robert Rodriguez to do Machete Kills in Space,” he says. “I’m not kidding — I’ve been all over the world, they have asked me, ‘When are we doing Machete in space?’”