‘Inmate #1’ Chronicles Danny Trejo’s Journey From Prison To The Big Screen

Known for his role as Uncle Machete in the “Spy Kids” movies, Trejo refers to himself as “everybody’s Uncle Machete” and uses his platform to give hope to young fans.

By Kristen CabreraJuly 10, 2020 3:01 pm

The life of Latino icon Danny Trejo is depicted in a new documentary, “Inmate #1: The Rise of Danny Trejo.” It debuted this week, and tells a story about redemption, perseverance and changing for the better. 

The film star spoke with Texas Standard Host David Brown about his path from prison to roles in hit movies like “Spy Kids” and “Heat.”

“I never imagined myself getting out of prison. I started going to juvenile hall and youth authority. I basically thought that was my life,” Trejo said. 

Then, on Cinco de Mayo 1968, he vowed to turn his life around after his involvement in a prison riot. 

“Inmate #1” is not just a reference to his experience in prison. For the first five years of his career, Trejo was typecast as this sort of character.

“I always played inmate number one: bad guys, cholos,” Trejo said. 

Now, Trejo is best-known for his role as Uncle Machete in Robert Rodriguez’ “Spy Kids” movies. He says he is “everybody’s Uncle Machete,” and, just as he promised God back in 1968, he uses his notoriety to do good. 

“My whole thing is talking to kids about staying off of drugs and alcohol and codependetentiaries and giving some hope,” Trejo said. “The more movies I did, the better my platform.” 

Trejo has created quite the empire, based on his image. He owns a record label called Trejo’s Music and a restaurant chain, with seven locations, called Trejo’s Tacos.

“We’ve got the best nachos in the world,” he said of the taco restaurant, adding, “we just have a lot of fun and we play our music.”

In April, Trejo published a cookbook called “Trejo’s Tacos: Recipes and Stories from L.A.” His documentary “Inmate #1” is streaming now on iTunes, Google Play and Amazon Prime Video.

Web story by Sarah Gabrielli.

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