Danny Trejo Celebrates 80th Birthday: Reflects on Life and Legacy

Hollywood star Danny Trejo celebrates his 80th birthday milestone

by Zain ul Abedin
Danny Trejo Celebrates 80th Birthday: Reflects on Life and Legacy
© Shane Anthony Sinclair/Getty Images

The iconic actor Danny Trejo is busier than ever as he celebrates his 80th birthday on May 16. Trejo, who has built a legendary career over nearly four decades, shared his reflections and plans with PEOPLE, expressing a deep sense of gratitude and accomplishment.

"I feel blessed, first of all, because I wasn't supposed to make it out of the '60s — and I mean the 1960s," Trejo reveals. "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's journey from a troubled childhood in California, marked by numerous jail stints in his 20s, to a renowned acting career is nothing short of remarkable.

He began his acting career with 1985's "Runaway Train" and has since appeared in countless films, including notable titles like 1995's "Heat" and the "Machete" action series. Reflecting on his unexpected success, Trejo says, "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.' I never went back. Every day for me is just a blessing."

Birthday Celebrations and Career Highlights

Trejo plans to celebrate his milestone birthday with a family dinner alongside 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 shares. "I'm not vegan, I eat healthy, but I'll not pass up a steak." Trejo fondly recalls the highlights of his career as working on the Robert Rodriguez-directed "Machete" films.

He also cherishes his experience on "Heat," working with stars like Robert De Niro, Val Kilmer, and Jon Voight. "I worked with all the biggies. It was like, wow, I'm really an actor," he reminisces. At 80, Trejo remains active in the industry, with IMDb crediting him with 20 acting roles, voice acting roles, or onscreen appearances in 2023 and 2024 alone.

When not working, he enjoys driving his vintage cars, including a 1955 Buick Riviera and a 1956 Chevy Bel Air. Looking ahead, Trejo hopes Rodriguez will create the long-awaited third "Machete" film, "Machete Kills in Space." "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?'"