This week is the release of the new Universal Pictures’ documentary, Inmate #1: The Rise of Danny Trejo. In this film, director Brett Harvey takes us on a journey back in time, over seventy years, to witness the extraordinary story of the life of the beloved Hollywood star, Danny Trejo aka Machete. Many people know him from his intense roles in films like Desperado, Heat, Blood In Blood Out, and even Spy Kids (OK that may not have been so intense).
What most people don’t know is the life he led before that. A life that was almost cut short when he faced the possibility of three counts of the death penalty. Like many people, Trejo made several mistakes growing up that included drugs, alcohol, and a life of crime. This documentary takes us back to that time and shows us as Trejo gains one demon after another. Just as it looks like there is no way out, Trejo was able to gain control of his life an make an amazing transformation. He takes his criminal past and puts it to work by becoming a drug counselor helping everyone he can. Keep in mind that this all happens before his Hollywood breakthrough.
ALSO SEE: THE TOUGH TASK OF PUTTING TOGETHER A DOCUMENTARY OF THE LIFE OF MACHETE, DANNY TREJO [LRM EXCLUSIVE]
In my conversation with Harvey about the documentary, I asked him about what he wanted people to leave with after watching the film. One thing was that he wanted people to realize was that although he has “kind of rough exterior”, he is, “actually a sweetheart”. But overall he wanted to convey a message of hope. “If Danny can come back from three counts of the death penalty to do the things that he does on the level that he does now, then you and I can also do the same thing”, said Harvey.
He continued to talk about Trejo’s journey and how that road to redemption taught him something very valuable. The positive effect of doing something good for someone without expecting anything in return. “It started when he came out of prison, it started as seeking redemption. And it was almost like an end goal at that point. That if he just did enough, at some point, maybe he would redeem what he had done. And I think through the process, what he’s learned and why he’s come to peace with who he is, is that he learned that it isn’t an end goal. It’s just a way of life at this point. That it’s just, it’s how you live. There’s no end to it. And so if that message of just do something good for somebody without any expectation of anything in return, if that can resonate across the board with everybody, I think it could have a pretty positive effect on many people within society.”
Inmate #1: The Rise of Danny Trejo is a fantastic film that I think everyone should watch. It’s a film that teaches us that we do not have to be defined by our past. Also that despite hardships growing up, the only ceilings that exist are ones that we put up ourselves. No matter what we have done in the past, there is always room for growth.
The full interview with Brett Harvey will be available on our website later this week! So be sure to check-in.
Universal Pictures’ Inmate #1: The Rise of Danny Trejo will be available on VOD Tuesday, July 7th, 2020
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