You may have seen Danny Trejo in “Machete,” “From Dusk Till Dawn,” and “Spy Kids.” His rise to stardom started in the mid-1980s, but he had to overcome a number of obstacles before that happened. While growing up in Los Angeles, he started using marijuana at just 8 years old and took his first hit of heroin when he was 12. He began dealing drugs and committing robberies to support his addiction and was incarcerated soon afterward. He spent over 10 years in and out of prison but eventually got sober and turned his life around.
After being released from prison for the last time, he worked odd jobs and eventually became a drug counselor. In 1984, an actor he was sponsoring was worried he’d relapse while working on “Runaway Train.” Trejo joined him on set for support and ended up getting cast in the film.
“This guy says, ‘Hey, do you wanna be in this movie?’” Trejo said during a 2023 documentary. “And I say, ‘What do I gotta do?’ He says, ‘Do you wanna be an extra?’” At that point in time, Trejo said, he didn’t know what an extra was. Then the man asked him if he could act like a convict, to which Trejo said he replied, “I’m a professional.” Of course, that was the first of many roles he would land. He has been in an extensive amount of movies and shows since then, including “Con Air,” “Heat,” and “Desperado.”
If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).