The opening title card of the trailer for the new documentary Inmate #1: The Rise of Danny Trejo asks viewers to “Meet Danny Trejo.” But after nearly 40 years working in Hollywood and with over 350 film and TV roles under his black, leather belt, is there anyone out there that really doesn’t know who Danny Trejo is?
OK, maybe they know some of his most famous movies like From Dusk Till Dawn, Con Air and Desperado, but in Inmate #1, director Brett Harvey wants to tell the full story of Trejo — from his humble upbringing to the time he spent in prison to his rise as an actor. The life of “the ultimate tough guy” began in “a high-stakes world from a very young age,” as the trailer describes with black and white photographs of Trejo as a young boy. That turbulent childhood led him to drugs, armed robbery and prison time.
Through interviews with industry colleagues like actress Michelle Rodriguez, filmmaker Robert Rodriguez and others close to Trejo, Harvey takes a deep dive into who Trejo is and how he was able to change the course of his life before becoming a statistic. “I made a promise to myself … start trying to do good,” Trejo says in the trailer.
The documentary also explains why a starring role in an exploitation action film like 2010s Machete broke down walls for Latinos in Hollywood. “It changed the paradigm of who could be a leading man,” says actor Cheech Marin.
Sure, there have been a handful of leading Latino men before Trejo played the vengeful ex-Federale, but not like this. Put him in the same room as Benicio Del Toro, Gael Garcia Bernal and Andy Garcia — and lock the door behind you — and we’re picking Trejo every single time.
Inmate #1: The Rise of Danny Trejo will be available digitally July 7, 2020.