Danny Trejo says criminal past helped him become a Hollywood star

The past catches up one way or another. Ask ex-con and actor Danny Trejo, who brings authenticity to badass roles in films and has told his story in a memoir where he documents hw his criminal past helped him become a movie star. 

In 1993, according to the actor as reported by the New York Post, he was walking through San Quentin State Prison, where he was filming scenes for the movie, Blood In, Blood Out.”

The cast and crew stopped at cells C545 to C550, which were blocked off for the filming, and suddenly Trejo felt an eerie sense of déjà vu.

“We were climbing the stairs to the set and with every step, my heart pounded harder,” Trejo writes in his new memoir, Trejo: My Life of Crime, Redemption, and Hollywood (Atria Books), out now.

“When we reached the flight between the fourth and fifth tier, I stopped. I was standing on the same steps where [fellow prisoner] Tyrone stabbed the man who tried to kill me.”

C550 was his former cell, his home from 1966-1968 for selling heroin to an undercover cop.

After rehearsing the scene, Trejo entered C550 with a fellow ex-prisoner on set and said a prayer.

“We got down on our knees and thanked God for our freedom from drugs and alcohol, our freedom from prisons, and we thanked him for our kids and our lives,” writes Trejo. 

Ex-con Trejo brings authenticity to badass roles in films like 2007’s “Grindhouse.”

Ex-con Trejo brings authenticity to badass roles in films like 2007’s “Grindhouse.”

Weinstein Company LLC

“I’d come full circle.” 

Trejo, with over 300 film and TV roles to his credit, is best known to audiences for his roles in Spy Kids,Breaking Bad and Machete, which made him the first Chicano action star.

But Trejo, 77, had an unlikely path to stardom. A heroin user by age 12 and dealer by 13, Trejo spent the better part of 1956-1969 in prisons like San Quentin and Folsom for a variety of crimes including drug dealing and armed robbery.

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