Everything you think about Danny Trejo is true
Before walking the red carpet, Trejo followed the yellow brick road until he became Oz.
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Life is not simple. Sometimes you think you're in Kansas, safe and secure with your beloved aunt, and a hurricane wind blows you away out of nowhere. So all that is left is to gather courage, intelligence, a heart that beats for the right things, and be lucky enough to cross paths with a fairy godmother who will make it easy for you to return to who you really are.
All of this happened to actor Danny Trejo, whose life and career he explores in an amazing documentary entitled Inmate #1: The Rise of Danny Trejo, which follows him from his turbulent heroin-packed youth to his days in prison, then in a boxing ring and finally on a movie set.
But let's situate ourselves in that prison in San Quentin, where he spent a season trying to keep his sanity by recreating in solitary the entire script of The Wizard of Oz while also training his fists until he became a boxer. Or that other time, Danny remembers, when he had just found out that his mother had died and he started crying on Rene the frog's shoulder at a Muppet show.
A true catharsis, a display of sincerity we rarely have the pleasure of seeing in an artist. That is the documentary directed by Brett Harvey that arrives on the small screen on July 7 and where we accompany Trejo through his difficult past in South Los Angeles, along with other friends who tell part of his story, like actress Michelle Rodriguez, director Robert Rodriguez and his own family.
"I love what came out of the documentary even though it wasn't me, because I think it gives a lot of people who don't have any," the actor, whose best characters have sharp names (Navajas, Machete), told SI.com. "I think what we did with this film is give people hope and if you haven't been in jail it shows you that anything is possible. If you got a good education and graduated from high school to college, and you're going through a tough time, well, here's a guy who started under the gas chamber... so anything is possible."
Born into a family of Mexican migrants, boxing saved Trejo from the spiral of violence and armed robbery he was caught up in as a child. In fact, he owes a lot to his fists.
His hook led him to train actor Eric Roberts for his role as a young convicted boxer on Runaway Train in 1985, after he got out of prison and helped others get off drugs. That was his first appearance in the movies and also his first approach to the tough guy characters that have made him so famous, even though Trejo is considered by everyone to be a good guy, a sensitive man. A self-made man.
A Latino in Hollywood who was proud of his origins and who not only ended up finding Oz, but became him. A point of reference for many other young Hispanic artists and entrepreneurs trying to fit the pieces of his dual identity.