Lasting Action Hero is our series where we rock our to portraits of our favorite badasses from blockbuster history. Were starting out with a action star who has some killer tattoos of his own, Danny Trejo, but be sure to keep an eye out for our future installments, too.
Anyone who has been conscious for the last 30 years knows Danny Trejo. Believe me, even if you don’t think you know Danny Trejo, you know Danny Trejo. He’s a rugged god among men. From ubiquitous action movie bad guy to the benevolent uncle in the Spy Kids film series, Trejo is a pop culture icon unmatched in both grit and just how goddamn lovable he is. While fans have found all sorts of ways to show their love for the grizzled star, the many realistic black and grey tattoo portraits of him are the ultimate tribute to Trejo and his cinematic legacy.
Tío Danny (as he is affectionately known on Twitter) got his start in Hollywood as a boxing trainer for Eric Roberts on the set of Runaway Train after the film’s writer recognized him from their days together in San Quentin. After making an impression on the director, Trejo landed an extra spot as a prison boxer, and the role made way for more high profile acting work in a string of ‘80s summer blockbusters. Since then, he’s appeared in numerous cult classics, cementing his place as an ass-kicking, knife-throwing, machine-gun-toting sensation.
Even though he was already an icon to anyone who’d been paying attention, Trejo’s breakthrough role arguably came when he was cast as the hitman Navajas in Robert Rodriguez’s Desperado. He went on to work with Rodriguez — his second cousin, though the two didn’t know they were related until they met on set — on From Dusk Till Dawn as vampire bartender Razor Charlie and much later, the exploitation flick Machete, in which Trejo played the titular former honest Federale turned kill-first-ask-no-questions vigilante.
Whether he’s camping it up in movies like 3-Headed Shark Attack, giving us feelings advocating for animal rescues, or helping kids avoid gangs and drugs, Danny Trejo is a true American hero who has deservedly been enshrined in the lexicon of body art. His own “Mexican cowgirl,” a memento of his time in prison, has become a popular staple in Chicano tattoo culture, and innumerable film nerds have offered him tribute by having his likeness inscribed on their skin. Because Trejo is covered in black and grey body art of his own, the style is perfect for capturing the hard-knock, rough-and-tumble attitude that made him into widely adored killing-machine that he is today.
To see more kickass portraits of the celebrities that inspire us most, make sure to drop by these tattooists’ Instagrams. If you’re a diehard Trejo fan, think about having one of them design a tattoo of Tío Danny from your favorite film to help you kick life in the ass.