Danny Trejo is nothing short of a living legend. For over 30 years, the Echo Park native has brought his pockmarked mean mug to some of Hollywood’s most emblematic films, and virtually defined the tough guy archetype for generations to come. But Danny Trejo also happens to be 72 years old – which means he’s actually spent less than half his life as Tinseltown’s go-to Chicano badass. But now, thanks to an upcoming documentary Inmate #1: The Rise of Danny Trejo, it seems we will finally have the entire epic arc of Trejo’s life documented for cinematic posterity.
The project, which was announced yesterday by the Hollywood Reporter, will be directed by Brett Harvey and focuses on Trejo’s tumultuous pre-stardom years as a juvenile delinquent-turned-hardened felon. Of course, we’ve all heard about his adolescent drug addiction, the armed robberies with his uncle Gilbert, his time in and out of prison, and finally the big heroin bust that landed him in San Quentin; but with Inmate #1 it seems Trejo will finally bare it all in unflinching detail.
Of course, Trejo’s biography is more than just another Chicano gangster film – it’s a story of redemption and second chances. Indeed, Trejo has opened up on numerous occasions about his participation in the 1968 Cinco de Mayo prison riots, and how a brief flirtation with the death penalty turned his life around for the better. After his release in 1969, Trejo made good on a promise he made to God and dedicated himself entirely to helping at-risk youth as an addiction counselor: a vocation that, through the inexplicable twists and turns of fate, ultimately led him to acting.
In this way, Inmate #1: The Rise of Danny Trejo promises to illuminate a little more of the man behind the legend, and the extraordinary feat of personal character that brought him into the heats and minds of film lovers across the world. The film is expected to be released in 2018, so keep your eyes peeled for more info.