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Danny Trejo was working as an actor long before Robert Rodriguez cast him as the knife-throwing badass Navajas in 1995's Desperado, but one also can't ignore what the director has done for his career. Not only has Rodriguez cast him in nearly all of his directorial efforts, but many of the films he has produced as well.
But easily the biggest contribution that Rodriguez has made to Trejo's career is the blossoming Machete franchise. In summer 2010 the ex-con became a legitimate action star and leading man when the director made a feature-length version of his "fake" trailer from Grindhouse, and the two will be bringing the character back again later this year with the release of Machete Kills. The partnership has been fruitful for nearly two decades now, however, today has introduced some potential drama for the duo.
Deadline is reporting that an independent producer is now suing Rodriguez for $11 million, claiming that the filmmaker used “threats and intimidation” to try and stifle the upcoming Trejo-starring action film Vengeance as well as a tie-in app. The site has a full excerpt from the five-count complaint issued by ITN Flix (which you can read HERE) that reads,
"Rodriguez feared that the promotion of another film starring Danny Trejo would diminish the Machete Kills brand and would threaten box office numbers and thus set in motion a plan to diminish ITN’s reputation and stifle the success of the film and the App Game."
The situation reportedly began back in November when Trejo and Rodriguez's agent Gloria Hinojosa called Steve Wozniak - who endorsed the Vengeance app - to say that ITN's Flix's CEO Gil Medina was a "con man" who had no deal in place with Trejo. The company says that Hinojosa's call was made on orders from Rodriguez and that she "knew what she was saying was untrue because as Trejo’s agent she’d seen the various contracts the actor had signed with ITN since 2006."
Interestingly, Deadline notes that there was a point late last year when ITN tried to make a deal with Open Road Films, which will be distributing the new Machete film. According to the report, the company was trying to set up a deal where Vengeance could ride "on the marketing coattails of Machete Kills" and give Open Road an 80-20 split.
Vengeance is currently set to be released on November 11th of this year, just one month after Machete Kills will be arriving in theaters on September 13th.