Danny Trejo on Rob Zombie: “when he casts you, he casts that character as you”
For Fangoria’s recent Rob Zombie special, (FANGORIA Legends Presents: Rob Zombie), they spoke to actor Danny Trejo, who appeared in Zombie’s films, Halloween, The Devils Rejects, and lent his voice to The Haunted World of El Superbeasto.
Trejo opens up about what it was like to work with Zombie, what Zombie expects from his cast members, and how Trejo views Zombie as a director and visionary.
Get your copy of the Fangoria special HERE, and read excerpts from the interview with Danny Trejo, by clicking >>>
Exclusive Q&A: Danny Trejo on Rob Zombie and “MACHETE: THE SERIES”!
With the recent release of FANGORIA Legends Presents: Rob Zombie, FANGORIA sought out some of Zombie’s most trusted repertory actors to speak on their experiences with the horror rock maestro. Of course, there are few actors who as prolific in Zombie’s films as they are in mainstream exposure as Danny Trejo. In our exclusive one-on-one chat, Trejo opened up about working with Zombie, the original fate of his HALLOWEEN character and the small screen ambitions in his near future…
DANNY TREJO: I did a film called THE DEVIL’S REJECTS for Rob, so I went and met him for that. We hit it off right away and he was just so cool. So we did that together and now I break bread with him. He’s one of my friends now.
FANG: Considering his stage persona, was his presence as a director different than what you expected?
TREJO: Oh, hell yes. Rob Zombie is kind of like Robert Rodriguez in that he’s laid back and he’s cool. He’s still in love with the process [of filmmaking]. You know, a lot of directors who have been around for a while still love the end result, but are burned out a little bit on the process. So I love working with directors who are still in love with the process and Rob Zombie is one of them.
FANG: For THE DEVIL’S REJECTS, you boarded the project as one of the “Unholy Two”…
TREJO: Yeah! Rondo!
FANG: Yeah! And it’s interesting because in the film, those characters aren’t necessarily as bad as the people they’re hunting. Were you glad that Rob Zombie gave you the chance to play that kind of character specifically?
TREJO: Well, the character was a combination of both a good guy and a bad guy. I loved that about him. I really loved getting to portray that killer attitude, but in a character that’s really somewhat of a good guy. And Rob has a way about him that brings the best out of you anyways. On his movies, you’re not being pressured. He just takes the things that you’ve got inside of you anyways and brings it out. I’ve always thought that is so cool.
FANG: From what I’ve gathered, Rob Zombie has a laid back approach to actors. He often lets them improvise and really get into their characters. Did you find out that was true on THE DEVIL’S REJECTS?
TREJO: Absolutely. Every once in a while, he’d come up and say, “Stop acting.” [Laughs] He lets you be yourself. He knows in the casting what he wants from the character. So when he casts you, he casts that character as you. Most directors don’t work that closely with their casting agents, so when you show up, you have to make this character.
FANG: Afterwards, Rob Zombie cast you in HALLOWEEN (2007) against type as this generally nice character.
TREJO: I know! I’ve gotta tell you this story. When we first shot HALLOWEEN (2007), Michael Myers didn’t kill my character. At first, Mikey let me go. But when the bigwigs watched it for the first time, they all looked at each other and said, “He didn’t kill Trejo…”
You see, if he spared me, it would have made Michael Myers a redeeming character because he didn’t want to kill me. So I got a call from Rob while I was in New York on another film, and he says, “Hey, Trejo, I’ve got some good news and some bad news.” So I say, “Alright, let me have it.” And he says, “The bad news is we have to kill you.” And then I knew that the good news is they had to make another contract because we already had wrapped!
So Rob and those guys gave me the same rate, we went back and had a lot of fun. And I got to spend some more time with Sheri Moon, who is an absolutely gorgeous person inside and out.
FANG: Had they let your character live, it definitely would have made Michael Myers somewhat redeemable. But your death scene in HALLOWEEN (2007) does act as one of the film’s most emotional moments. Did you have any idea about how much of an impact your character would carry in the final film?
TREJO: Well, you know, I work with a lot of kids. I work with kids who are in trouble and inmates; that’s what I do when I’m not doing films. I go to juvenile halls and talk, because I understand these kids. So when Michael Myers is killing me and I’m screaming, “Mikey! Mikey!” Rob loved it. Rob kept thinking of new ways to kill me, like, “Let’s kill him this way.” Rob really had a blast with that death scene.
FANG: Outside of the death scene, did you find it refreshing to play a nice character for once instead of an intimidating killer?
TREJO: Yeah; as I said, that really reflects who I am. In fact, I actually deal a lot with kids who are autistic and in juvenile hall. That’s really sad because they’re in juvenile hall because they got into trouble, but only made trouble.
Read the interview in full: http://www.fangoria.com/new/exclusive-qa-danny-trejo-on-rob-zombie-and-machete-the-series/