9. He’s indirectly responsible for Danny Trejo’s acting career.

Learned from: Runaway Train (1985)
Who doesn’t love Danny Trejo? Younger heads should know him as “Machete,” but more experience film buffs give the Mexican-American veteran props for his small but always memorable roles in countless genre favorites. He’s also responsible for toughening us up. One of the many interesting things about Trejo is that he never dreamed of being an actor; his film career happened by chance.

While the 1985 action flick Runaway Train was in production, everyday civilian Trejo visited a friend on the set; the movie’s screenwriter, Edward Bunker, was also on set, and recognized Trejo, with whom he’d served time in San Quentin. The future Machete was first hired as a boxing trainer for star Eric Roberts, which led to Trejo’s first on-screen appearance as a pugilist whose ass gets handed to him by Roberts (as seen in the clip above).

What does this have to do with Akira Kurosawa? Today’s late birthday boy originally wrote the screenplay for Runaway Train, an original idea of his that he ultimately couldn’t direct. Had Kurosawa never written Runaway Train in the first place, B-movies and discussions about omnipresent character actors would be much emptier. And we’d still be the opposite of “badass.”