Danny Trejo -- Success After Addiction
He owns the deeply marked and sculpted face of the world weary, a testament to his travels on the hard road. But then Danny smiles and you see the healthy, happy person beneath the tough exterior. It was that very combination of tough exterior – which looks so very fearsome on film – and the good person inside that gives Danny the unique qualities that have kept him active in movies and television. After some 25 years playing roles like “bad guy #2,” Danny finally has a starring role – the title character in Machete, an extreme violence, action packed adventure about an ex-Federale vigilante in Mexico.
Danny’s story shows what can come from taking a new path, a path away from crime and drugs. His early life was marked by drug addiction and eleven years in and out of prison in California. He credits his turnaround to boxing and attending 12-step meetings while incarcerated in San Quentin.
The story goes that Danny was speaking at a meeting and subsequently got a call from a member in need. He met the young man to talk on a movie set and there, a man recognized Danny from prison. It turns out the former inmate was working on the movie crew and hired Danny to help train one of the actors to box. The director eventually spotted him and offered him a role.
Danny has never looked back. He’s still known in the old ‘hood, but now he’s a respected graduate of the school of hard knocks. A short documentary about him can be seen here.
So, there is life after drugs. Even with a criminal record and hard time. Does Danny miss it? Not a chance. In a recent interview he said, “I took drugs and alcohol out of my life and dedicated my life to helping other people. A drug addict, an alcoholic, a criminal: They're very, very selfish people. When you get the spotlight off of you and turn it on to other people, your life is just better.”
It’s a message that bears repeating and one those bound by addiction need to hear. There is life after drugs and alcohol. There is life after prison. And you get the feeling that even if fame had never come to Danny Trejo, he’d still be healthy and happy.