In an effort to counteract all the Hunger Games talk that’s been plaguing the entertainment news sector over the past two weeks or so, we at Screen Junkies would like to take things in the other direction. That decision begged the question, “What (or who) is the opposite of Katniss Everdeen?” It took about fifteen seconds to arrive at the answer, which, of course, was “Danny Trejo.”

If there was an actual Hollywood Hunger Games, Danny Trejo would be such a heavy favorite to win that I don’t think bookies would even take bets. The guy is badass through and through. He’s become something of a fanboy icon in the past decade, but even before that, he was just known as the really tough Mexican guy that you were scared to even make eye contact with onscreen.

Bartender – From Dusk Till Dawn

Trejo makes for a very fitting face of the Mexican biker/trucker/vampire bar the Titty Twister. After giving the boot to Keitel and company for not being truckers nor bikers, he is one to listen to reason when Harvey presents him with his commercial drivers license. However, the reason doesn’t last long. Once the band plays, all hell breaks loose and the hulking Danny Trejo turns into super-hulking Danny Trejo, until he’s laid down by Clooney and Co. in one of the most delightfully random heel-turns in modern movies.

Bartender – Anchorman

He plays a no-nonsense bartender pretty damn well. Well enough that even his few lines in the film don’t only convey his badass nature, but show that he’s pretty enlightened in telling Ron that he’s gotta wake up to the gender equality movement that’s going on.

While the phrase “warrior poet” gets thrown around a lot these days, screw it: He’s a warrior poet.

Johnny 23 – Con Air

Perhaps his first prominent blockbuster role, Johnny 23 was a convicted rapist on Nic Cage’s doomed convict flight. While many of Trejo’s roles offer a little contrast, this ain’t one of ‘em. He’s a straight bad guy rapist here, wearing a tattoo for every woman he’s raped. Good times all around, no?

He even dies in glorious fashion (no spoiler alert because if you haven’t seen Con Air yet, you don’t deserve spoiler alerts), with his arm still handcuffed to the plane after the crash, but the rest of his body…elsewhere.

Trejo – Heat

I never realized that in Heat, one of the great crime sagas of the past…ever, he went by “Trejo,” which, unless you’ve recently suffered a head injury, you’ll realize is his actual last name. Zany, right?

Trejo is the wheelman for the big bank heist crew, but has to bow out when he realizes he’s being tailed. Despite being his typically characteristic hard-ass self, we see Trejo in a very physically and emotionally vulnerable state as he lays beaten to within an inch of his life, asking De Niro’s character to kill him as he doesn’t want to live without his wife, who was killed by his assailants.

Sure, it demonstrates a soft side, but asking someone to kill you because you lost your wife is still insanely hard core. Imagine what he would have done to those guys if he wasn’t gravely injured. It probably would have looked something like:

Machete – Machete

Robert Rodriguez’s love affair with Danny Trejo knows no bounds, as the two continue to work together almost constantly, long after they used each other to make names for themselves in the early/mid-90’s.

Without going too far into the details, Machete is a revenge story that is Trejo at his most Trejo-iest. Spurned by a man who hired him to assassinate a senator, Nachete just goes around killing everyone. To pick this is as his most badass role would be a little too on the nose, as it’s completely over the top, but the fact remains that this caricature is based on most every role he’s played, which are in turn based on his real-life experiences. So it’s sorta like a copy of a copy, but if this bears any semblance to real life, he is a man that should probably not be crossed.


Tortuga – Breaking Bad

(Spoilers a-comin’) As hard core as Trejo’s characters are in life, they are taken to a new level in their deaths. Trejo characters kick the bucket in a fashion commensurate with how they live. Tortuga, a cartel associate-turned-snitch, seems to be living well off the DEA, but with a show like Breaking Bad, it’s clear that his days will be numbered.

The surprise is how numbered they actually are. Seemingly moments after we meet him, Tortuga is getting his block chopped off, then attached to a turtle, along with a bomb. Not bad. Well, bad for the turtle, but not so bad for fans of awesome Trejo deaths, which is to say, everyone.

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