Danny Trejo has been in nearly 200 movies, his latest being Machete, which opens this week and marks his ninth collaboration with director (and distant cousin) Robert Rodriguez. But as ubiquitous as the Mexican American’s fearsome face and physique is, there is still a lot most people don’t know about the real Danny. Here are some of the most surprising bits:
1) He lives a few doors down from his mom. “The only problem is that when my friends coma around, the neighbors all want to call the police,” Trejo says. “They don’t exactly look like regular citizens!”
2) He grows roses in his spare time. “There are a thousand varieties, but my favorite is called labios de mujer,” Trejo says. “It’s really strong—red and white and yellow petals. It’s absolutely gorgeous.
3) He wants most of his onscreen characters to die. With a face that would make Osama Bin Laden flee his cave, Trejo most often gets offered bad-guy roles. His only request when he signs on? “They can do anything they want, but have to die at the end,” he says.
4) The elaborate peacock tattoo on his left arm? He had it done to hide the scars left by his extensive past drug use. “When people talk about divine intervention, they can look at me,” Trejo says, adding that a 12-step recovery program saved his life.
5) When fans or fellow actors are too intimidated to come up to him, he goes to them. “When some people see me on set, they puff up. I have to go up to them first and say, ‘Hi, how are you?’ I have to be approachable so they know not to trip. The guy I played in Con Air, for example, was vicious. They see that guy and I have to say, that’s not me, homes. I’m a family man. I’ve got kids. Sometimes, I’ll be walking down the street and someone will recognize me but they won’t come up, so just come up and say hi. It blows them away, but it’s who I am.”