Last week, actor Danny Trejo opened up in an interview about being 51 years sober. The 75-year-old actor is known for his roles in over 200 films including the most notable, From Dusk Till Dawn, Heat, and more recently Breaking Bad. Crediting his career to a his sobriety, Trejo sat down in an interview to talk about the significant milestone.
“You Can Make It Man, Look at Me.”
“I was just a kid,” he explained. “I got into a 12-step program after I had a serious incident.”
The actor has always been open about his time in and out of jail in the 1960’s. Spending more than a decade in various state prisons, including San Quentin, Trejo served time for various armed robberies and drug offenses. While serving, the actor became a champion boxer in the prison’s lightweight divisions, and ultimately became a member of a 12-step program.
During his time in prison, it was the visitors and 12-step speakers who came into meetings to share their own experiences that helped save Trejo’s life and led him to sobriety. Today, he continues to pay it forward by visiting and speaking in the same prisons.
“Prison is the most hopeless place in the world,” he explained. “I met a guy named Johnny Harris in prison. He was a speaker and I [saw] him in four different penitentiaries, but I was always the inmate,” he said. “He’s been my sponsor since 1963. When I go back, I just show them hope. You can make it man, look at me.”
Inclined to continue his the path of a new life, Trejo left prison and became a drug counselor, giving back to those who those he could truly connect with.
During his time as a counselor, Trejo found his break as an actor. Responding to a call from a production assistant attempting to stay sober, Trejo found himself on the set of the film, Runaway Train. On set, he was recruited by former fellow inmate to teach Eric Roberts how to box for his role in the film. At the time, the director was pleased with Trejo’s performance, he included him in the movie as a boxer. From there, the actor became a phenomenon, gaining roles in hundreds of films.
“A Direct Result of Helping Someone Else.”
“Everything good that has happened to me has happened as a direct result of helping someone else,” said Trejo. “My passion is talking to young people… My message is, staying away from drugs and alcohol, and education is the key to anything you want to do.”
Currently on a press tour for his role in the new Rob Zombie movie, 3 From Hell, Trejo added that more than half-century clean time wouldn’t be possible without the help of his family. “God has blessed with me great friends, a great support system and great people around me,” he shared. “That’s what a person needs, a great support system.”
Not only is Trejo a successful actor, he’s also a budding entrepreneur with four growing enterprises including, Trejo’s Donuts, Trejo’s Tacos, Trejo’s Cantina, and Trejo’s Cerveza.
With Trejo not stopping anytime soon, he noted his sobriety as the driving force of his career.
“My life is just so beautiful since I took alcohol and drugs out of it.”