He’s Hollywood’s Bad Guy with a Heart of Gold. And fans of Danny Trejo, known for his roles in films such as Machete, Heat, From Dusk Till Dawn and Con Air, has a new starring role beginning July 6, 2012. That’s when Atria Books released Trejo: My Life of Crime, Redemption, and Hollywood ($27). The book follows the actor’s unforgettable and inspirational journey through crime, prison, addiction, loss and unexpected fame as Hollywood icon.
Trejo, who has played a baddie in more than 300 films and, at the age of 76, still books between 10 and 20 film and television roles a year, may be one of the most familiar faces in Hollywood. His memes are some of the most shared of all time on Instagram. In the summer of 2020, he was the subject of a viral Pete Davidson tribute on Saturday Night Live. But if you ask Danny, as popular as he is, no one has ever really captured the gritty, emotional journey that brought him to where he is today.
Trejo first used heroin at only 12 years old, learning that loyalty only came through violence and peace was found in oblivion. For a period of time, he did stints in some of America’s most notorious prisons, including San Quentin, Folsom, and Soledad. Then he was offered a part as a boxer in Runaway Train, giving him the opportunity to choose a new path. In Trejo, he describes how the difficult lessons he learned in childhood both saved his professional life and hindered his personal one, offering an inspirational and brutally honest look at his fascinating life. He shares how he rebuilt his life after finding sobriety and spirituality in solitary confinement and went on to become a success, hobnobbing with A-list celebrities and using his memories of his adrenaline-fueled robbing heists to inspire him as an actor.
“Danny Trejo is more than an actor for the millions of Mexican Americans, like me, who love him,” says Michelle Herrera Mulligan, senior editor, Atria Books. “He is a legend. A role model. The first Chicano action star. Someone we can always hold up as a hero who made it. One of my proudest acquisitions to date, this book shows us the difficult path it took to get him there, in unforgettable, literary detail.”
In this startlingly honest and intimate memoir, for the first time, Trujo explores his journey from an abusive childhood, a life in prison, a struggle with addiction, and a redemptive journey from recovery to love and loss, in a the warm, funny, brutal, gritty voice everyone has come to love.
“At seventy-six, this memoir was an opportunity for me to be fearlessly honest for the first time about the terrifying brutality of my experiences in the hardest prisons in the world, the family secrets that tore lives apart, my personal bottom while I was in the hole in Soledad facing a possible death penalty charge and the role God played in turning my life around, ” Trejo confesses. “There’s my acting career that started at the age of forty by simply showing up to a set to help another addict in need, and how all of it shaped the person I am. I hope by sharing my experiences they can somehow be of benefit to others and let them know that where you start doesn’t matter, it’s how you finish. “
Trejo is cowriting his memoir with his best friend of 20 years, actor Donal Logue to craft a revealing, intimate portrait of an extraordinary life, rife with never-revealed details of his transformative experience.
“A special thank you to Donal, who is not only an incredible actor, but a beautiful writer,” Trujo adds. “We’ve been on sets together for everything from Reindeer Games to Sons of Anarchy, but the three years we spent working on this book brought us closer than ever. “He’s talented in so many ways, but the way he crafted my story really brought it to life. I wouldn’t have trusted anyone else. He’s my best friend.”