Danny Trejo To Play One Of History’s Greatest Explorers

Legendary tough guy actor Danny Trejo is taking on a new role for him: one of the greatest explorers in history.

By Nathan Kamal | Published

danny trejo

Legendary character actor Danny Trejo is set to play Ferdinand Magellan, the 16th-century Portuguese explorer in an upcoming film. According to Variety, the film is titled 1521 and primarily focuses on the year that Magellan arrived on a series of islands in the Pacific Ocean now known as the Philippines. The character played by Danny Trejo attempted to colonize the islands, only to be repelled by the inhabitants and ultimately killed in the climactic Battle of Mactan. This will be a rare leading role for Danny Trejo, who is best known for his portrayal of frightening, sometimes funny heavies in action and horror films. 

1521 will be directed by Filipino-American filmmaker Francis B. Lara Ho and will be a joint U.S. and Philippines production. The script was written by Mary Krell-Oishi, who also has the films Paper Flower and Angel Warrior in pre-production. 1521 will begin filming on the Filipino island of Palawan soon, and Danny Trejo will star alongside Michael Copon, Bea Alonzo (who will also star in Paper Flower), Maricel Laxa-Pangilinan, and ​​Hector David Jr. Michael Copon will portray  Lapulapu, one of the indigenous leaders who fought back against Ferdinand Magellan and is considered a national hero and symbol of resistance in the modern-day Philippines. 

While the film will largely be a historical epic focusing on the clash between Danny Trejo and Michael Coon and its eventual culmination in the Battle of Mactan, 1521 will reportedly also involve a romantic entanglement between a Filipino woman and a Spanish soldier.

Ferdinand Magellan (Danny Trejo) was a minor Portuguese nobleman who swore fealty to the Spanish crown during its expansion westward into the Americas. He is known for navigating the first European voyage from the Atlantic Ocean to Asia, though his reputation suffered in the years after his death during the failed colonization of the Philippines. Following his death, his remaining men continued westward and completed the first known circumnavigation of the Earth.

Danny Trejo was born in Los Angeles and experienced extreme hardship from a young age. He was involved in violent crime and the drug trade from the age of seven and spent much of his early years in various prison systems (reportedly meeting a young Charles Manson at one point). Danny Trejo was eventually able to recover from severe drug addictions while incarcerated in California’s San Quentin State prison. He also earned his high school diploma while in prison, and became a champion boxer. He has remained sober since. 

Beginning in the 1980s, Danny Trejo began appearing in films and television series, often playing prisoners, drug dealers, and criminals. He would eventually appear in the cult classic crime drama Blood In, Blood Out, which was partly filmed in San Quentin; he even filmed scenes in his own former cell. Since then, he has appeared in multiple Robert Rodriguez films (including his own Machete series of films) and innumerable others. Danny Trejo currently has a staggering 427 acting credits on his IMDb page, which is a career to be proud of for anyone.