Date of Birth: May 16th 1944
He is a cousin of filmmaker Robert Rodriguez and a native of the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles. As a youth, he roamed the streets around his home area, committing various crimes and became addicted to drugs. He was in and out of jail many times as a teenager.
While on the streets, Trejo developed talent as a boxer and considered taking up boxing as a profession. That ambition was dashed by a lengthy prison sentence. While serving time in San Quentin State Prison, he became the California state prison champion in both the lightweight and welterweight divisions. During this time, Trejo became a member of a twelve-step program, which he credits with his success in overcoming drug addiction.
While speaking at a recovery meeting in 1985, Trejo met a young man in the movie business. His newfound friend invited him to the set of Runaway Train, where Trejo was offered a job as an extra. Edward Bunker, himself a former convict and well-respected crime author who was writing the screenplay for the film, recognized Trejo, whom he had done time with at San Quentin. Remembering Trejo's boxing skills, he offered Trejo $320 per day to train Eric Roberts, one of the movie's stars, for a boxing scene. Director Andrei Konchalovsky liked Trejo's work and decided to offer him a prominent role in the film.
Trejo is known for his very distinctive appearance. In addition to his heavily lined face (usually sporting a long mustache), he has displayed the large tattoo on his chest for many roles (the tattoo depicts a woman wearing a sombrero). He often plays thugs or lowlife characters, although he has displayed range as a good guy with films such as Robert Rodriguez's Spy Kids trilogy, Bubble Boy and an amusing guest appearance on the USA Network series Monk with art imitating life as a convict roommate to Tony Shalhoub's undercover detective. He also appeared in an episode of Desperate Housewives in Season 2, sent by Carlos to help Gabrielle deal with her grief of losing her unborn baby (another good-guy character). He also plays the characters Enrique and Octavio on King of the Hill. His role on King of the Hill was referenced in the HBO series Unscripted in which he appears in a quick cameo.