Wildest dreams coming to reality is the stuff Hollywood is made of. Here is the story that just might rise more than a few eye brows, a tale of Danny Trejo, a journey from depth of despair to stardom in the entertainment business.
Growing up in the North end of San Fernando Valley, a place as close to Hollywood geographically as it is far apart ideologically, Danny Trejo followed the footsteps of many kids coming up in the barrio; he adopted the life of crime and drugs. As a teenager Danny was in and out of juvenile halls until his crimes and his addiction progressed and he graduated to a Gladiator school or a big house located in Northern California named San Quentin, a prison reserved for hardened criminals.
While serving time Trejo revived his passion for boxing and became a state prison champion in lightweight and welterweight divisions. A sixty six year old Danny Trejo comments about that part of his life: “I didn’t think I was going to make it through sixties.” Boxing and involvement in a twelve step program has helped Danny through turbulent times at San Quentin State prison.
Realizing that battling his addiction would become an on going process, Trejo became active in the program of Narcotics Anonymous upon his release from prison. Using his god given talents such as charm and charisma Danny has helped countless addicts over the years to find a new way to live.
It is his commitment and selfless desire to help another suffering addict that sprung this incredible story into real life. In 1985, a young man in the movie business , who was still battling his demons of addiction, called Trejo late one night and asked for help. Danny ended up meeting the kid on a movie set of Runaway Train. The director liked him and the rest is history. “I was inmate Number one for five years in my career,” said Trejo:”And I was the best Inmate number one they ever had.”
Trejo tells this story from the podium during meetings of Narcotics Anonymous that he still attends on regular basis. His incredible tale and a profound gift for story telling have hundreds and thousands of recovering addicts crowd the meeting halls and hang on every word he has to share.
Trejo’s simple message of hope and that anything is possible is being proven by his life story over and over again. After being a character actor for twenty five years, mostly a villain or a criminal with a hardened face and a distinctive look, Trejo gets to play a main role of a Mexican super hero in a major Hollywood movie “ Machete” with stars like Jessica Alba and Robert De Niro as his supporting cast. How did this happen?
A few years back Trejo played Machete at pseudo commercial of a film with the same name during Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino double feature collaboration of Grind House. I went to see it with my son. When we left the theater my son turned to me and said; “They f-ed with the wrong Mexican!” that was the phrase that Machete used during a spoof trailer. The pop culture phrase was born. “I loved that guy!” raved my son. And so did many other fans who loved Machete so much that Rodriguez decided to make a movie and Danny Trejo is now a bad ass action hero movie super star. Machete is now playing at a theater near you.
“I’m so blessed, “said Trejo, 66:” I’m still scared that somebody’s going to wake me up and say, ‘Hey, we’re still in prison. Let’s go to chow”