Danny Trejo doesn’t need much of an introduction. He has been in over 300 films and TV shows, including “Breaking Bad,” “Desperado,” “Sons of Anarchy,” “Spy Kids” and “Machete.” Trejo also owns a series of successful restaurants in Los Angeles called "Trejo’s Tacos” and recently released a cookbook by the same name.
On a recent episode of Milk Street Radio, the actor spoke with Christopher Kimball about everything from his time in prison to how he got into acting and his favorite breakfast. Get a taste of their conversation from the excerpts below, then listen to the full interview here on our website or via Apple Podcasts.
On dinners while living paycheck to paycheck
For anybody that’s working for a check, near the first of the month you have great dinners. But then close to the end of the month, my mom was a magician. She would just get all the leftovers and put them together and they were great. I’d say, “Mom, what’s this?” And she’d say, “That's shut up and eat it."
On his go-to breakfast
My favorite breakfast is carnitas nachos. I get nachos with plenty of cheese, carnitas and two eggs over easy on top. It’s delicious. That’s breakfast, and that way if I don’t have time for lunch, I’ve already eaten.
On how he got into acting
I was trying to do the extra thing. I had no ambition to be an actor, they just gave everybody 50 bucks cash. I ran into a friend of mine and he says, “Hey, Danny what are you doing here?” and I said, “I’m going to be an extra. They’re going to give me 50 bucks for acting like a convict.” We laugh because we both had been doing that for years for free. He told me that they needed somebody to train one of the actors how to box and that they would pay up to 320 dollars a day. I said, “Are you crazy? I’ve been beat up for free.” I started training an actor named Eric Roberts how to box and so that was my first movie, "Runaway Train."
On his time in solitary confinement
When I was in solitary confinement, I used to act out two movies. I acted out “The Wizard of Oz.” You know, “Give me those shoes, Dorothy!” I’d play it up when the guard would walk by. Then I did “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.” You kind of have to go crazy yourself to keep them from making you crazy, because solitary confinement will make you crazy.
Quotes have been edited for clarity.