Ex-convict and character actor Danny Trejo has come a long way since playing bit roles as prison inmates and gang members. The Mexican-American hood gone good still plays thugs, but now he's finally got top billing, starring in Machete, the pulpy exploitation shoot-'em-up directed by longtime amigo Robert Rodriguez and Ethan Maniquis. Trejo plays a badass betrayed Federale caught up in a conspiracy that will determine the fate of the Mexican border and illegal laborers. Oh yeah, he also gets busy with Jessica Alba, Michelle Rodriguez, and Complex cover girl Lindsay Lohan. Salute! With Trejo on top right now, we wanted to celebrate all the small roles that made him such a cool motherfucker in the first place. All right now, enough with the talkin' and mushy stuff. Check out Danny Trejo's best bit parts...
NAVAJAS IN DESPERADO (1995)
Thug type: Hitman
Badass moment: Kills El Mariachi's friend Buscemi (Steve Buscemi) and a bunch of cartel goons with throwing knives.
Complex says: Actions speak louder than words, which is good when you have no lines. Several throwing knives to the face will tend to clean the earwax out of a motherfucker.
TREJO IN HEAT (1995)
Thug type: Ex-con/bank robber/getaway driver
Badass moment: Shot and left for dead, his wife raped and murdered, he begs his partner in crime Neil McCauley (Robert De Niro), whom he was forced to betray, to mercy-kill him.
Complex says: With past experience in the game, Trejo was also an "armed-robbery consultant" for this heist film. Can you say most gangster IMDB page ever?
RAZOR CHARLIE IN FROM DUSK TILL DAWN (1996)
Thug type: Biker bartender/vampire
Badass moment: Transforms from a surly bartender into a surly motherfucking vampire!
Complex says: You might pause Trejo for being on the receiving end of Sex Machine's crotch cannon. If you wanted to be forced to wrap your lips around his crotch cannon, that is.
POACHER IN ANACONDA (1997)
Thug type: Animal poacher
Badass moment: Gets eaten by a giant anaconda—before the opening credits!
Complex says: Hey, you're not a non-white actor working in Hollywood until you're the first person killed in a horror film.
JOHNNY "JOHNNY 23" BACA IN CON AIR (1997)
Thug type: Prisoner
Badass moment: His arm, upon which tattoos keep track of his rape convictions, is severed in a plane crash.
Complex says: "Johnny 23" for his 23 rape convictions? Ah, the old lascivious Latino stereotype. Horrible, but at least it's not a count of how many hubcaps he's stolen.
COLLINS IN THE REPLACEMENT KILLERS (1998)
Thug type: Hitman
Badass moment: Has a climactic fire escape shootout with fellow hitman John Lee (Chow Yun-fat).
Complex says: "Checkmate" is a great one-liner to drop before somebody's shit gets blown loose, but Trejo probably shouldn't be using it when the shit being blown loose is his own. Guess he's a checkers man.
• CLICK NEXT TO SEE 5 MORE CLASSIC DANNY TREJO ROLES...
JUMPY IN REINDEER GAMES (2000)
Thug type: Robber/henchman
Badass moment: Helps pull off a casino heist dressed as a Santa Claus.
Complex says: This laughably bad heist flick is filled with so many ridiculous twists that it's awesome. In perhaps the biggest twist, Trejo helped convince Vin Diesel to abandon a bit part to star in The Fast and the Furious, which catapulted him to stardom. Hey, we didn't say there was a happy ending.
EL JEFE IN XXX (2002)
Thug type: Cartel boss
Badass moment: Interrogates and tortures extreme sports rebel and would-be secret agent Xander "xXx" Cage (Vin Diesel), who was dropped off in the middle of a Colombian cocaine field as a test.
Complex says: According to Trejo, this role was payback for helping Diesel to launch his career. No word yet on when the Deez will be paying the rest of us back for seeing his movies.
BARTENDER IN ANCHORMAN: THE LEGEND OF RON BURGUNDY (2004)
Thug type: Bartender
Badass moment: Tries to convince drunken disgraced misogynistic 1970s newscaster Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) that times have changed and ladies can "do stuff" now.
Complex says: Trejo doesn't really have any killer lines in this one, but anytime you can be in a movie where somebody says, "it smells like Bigfoot's dick!" you do that shit.
RONDO IN THE DEVIL'S REJECTS (2005)
Thug type: Bounty hunter
Badass moment: One half of "The Unholy Two," he helps a revenge-crazed sheriff hunt down the mass murderous Firefly family that killed his brother...so he can torture them.
Complex says: One of the few characters to survive a confrontation with the "Devil's Rejects," Trejo had come a long way from being done in by a massive snake. Ayo!
MACHETE IN GRINDHOUSE (2007)
Thug type: Federale/hitman
Badass moment: Has a revenge threesome with the wife and daughter of the man who set him up for murder.
Complex says: The Machete trailer was the best two minutes and 44 seconds to come out of Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez's 191-minute double-feature. Somebody should really make a full-length movie out of that shit.
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