Stereotype Shredder:

Danny Trejo in "Grindhouse"

Ever since his initial movie role as a vicious prisoner, ex-con turned actor Danny Trejo has been on the casting director speed dials.  With his severe facial scars, acne scarring, and extensive tattoos, Trejo has found steady work for a certain kind of role.  Complexion problems are often used to identify cinematic criminals, so we aren't shocked that Trejo usually portrays thugs, drug dealers or convicts.  Imagine our surprise to see that Trejo has broken this trend in the last year.


Caption:  One of these actors plays a counselor, while the other is an addict.  Which is which?


In “Sherrybaby” glamazon Maggie Gyllenhaal and Danny Trejo meet to talk about the terrors of drug dependency. Usually, an attractive actress like Gyllenhaal would be cast as an understanding social worker tending the issues of an unstable addict played by a scarred tattooed actor.  This indie flick's surprise reverses the usual Hollywood stock characters. Maggie is doping while Trejo’s gruff exterior hides a sympathetic soul as a drug counselor.  The film’s realism is heightened:  Addiction is not limited to those with problem skin.

The greater step for Trejo is the graduation to action star.  Though it was seen only as a phony trailer accompanying the high end B-movie “Grindhouse,” “Machete” stars Trejo as a Mexican American betrayed by corrupt officials who then exacts his revenge. 
He turns the tables on his bosses, rallying hordes to his side, and attracts the women, James Bond-style. The preview was such a hit that “Machete” may actually be released as a full feature film in 2008.

Will Trejo relish his sympathetic side?  To promote his new leading man status, he could undergo extensive laser tattoo removal.  Though this would take many sessions, his blue black tatts can be faded without adding to his scars.  Many claim that skin tightening fractional lasers can reduce acne and traumatic scars, though Trejo may need a Hollywood A-list paycheck to complete the process.  Yet perhaps all this cosmetic effort is not necessary.

In “Sherrybaby” and “Machete,” Danny Trejo breaks free of the chains of Tinseltown stereotyping, establishing a chance for other tattooed and scarred character actors to play that are roles morally, if not dermatologically, pure.

Runner-up, Stereotype Shredder:
Timothy Olyphant in "Hitman"

Assassins that are bald and tattooed usually aren’t film protagonists.  That said, we doubt that Olyphant’s bar code look is going to be the hot fashion trend of 2008.  It would be confusing at the Walmart checkout line.

© 1996-2008 Vail Reese M.D.