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(Credit: Jason McELweenie)

How 'Spy Kids' inspired one of Danny Trejo's bloodiest roles

Though Spy Kids isn’t known to be one of cinema’s most influential movies, it was certainly a hit of popular culture upon its release in 2001. Inspiring a whole new millennial generation of kids, the bombastic family film was bizarrely helmed by cult horror director Robert Rodriguez, previously responsible for Desperado and From Dusk Till Dawn. With his affluence set far afield, the director was able to draw in several favours for the film and found it difficult not to indulge himself and spread out the Rodriguez mythos. 

Eventually becoming a four-movie franchise, Spy Kids concerned itself with two children tasked with retrieving their spy parents when they’re taken by an evil, high tech enemy. It’s a silly, fun and action-packed concept, far from Rodriguez’s past filmography. Though speaking of his motivations behind the film, Rodriguez stated: “I didn’t want any guns or violence. I wanted it to be action/adventure for kids. A guy told me his son loved Desperado. I said, How old is your son? He said, six. Fuck, he shouldn’t be watching that.” 

A shocked Robert Rodriguez added: “I can’t make movies like that anymore. You don’t feel like it’s your responsibility, because I never had the intention for kids to watch that. But the reality is they do. Even in The Faculty, I didn’t want to gore it up. I had everybody alive at the end”. As such, the action/adventure Spy Kids was born, swapping guns and violence out for Electroshock Gumballs and dodgy CGI, adding actors Antonio Banderas and Danny Trejo to moderate the fun. 

Danny Trejo, a particularly dominant Hollywood figure, met Rodriguez on the set of Desperado, and the director knew instantly that they would build a strong relationship. Speaking in an interview the director stated: “When I met Danny, I said, ‘This guy should be like the Mexican Jean-Claude Van Damme or Charles Bronson, putting out a movie every year and his name should be Machete”. From this moment, the director began writing an entire film around Trejo and his intimidating ruthless ‘alter-ego’ Machete, though before Rodriguez could commit to a full film he had to first take on the Spy Kids series.

Seeing an opportunity to get his character out into the cinematic world, Rodriguez cast Danny Trejo as the spy kids’ ‘Uncle Machete’, and even eventually created a mock trailer for his own standalone movie which premiered in his and Quentin Tarantino’s double feature Grindhouse. Appearing in every Spy Kids film to date, whilst taking part in his very own standalone Machete series from 2010, the Machete character has become a memorable figure in two totally different franchises. 

Appearing a total of seven times in his famous Machete role, only two of those times have actually been for Machete films, with the other five belonging to roles in the Spy Kids series, as well as Rodriguez’s Planet Terror. Thankfully, this tally will soon jump to eight upon the release of the highly anticipated Machete Kills in Space. 

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