Trejo gets 1st starring role in 'Machete'

LOS ANGELES Actor Danny Trejo has one of the longest lists of credits you'll ever see. But the Southern California native who's mostly known as a character actor gets bumped up to leading man status in "Machete."

He even gets the girl, be it Michelle Rodriguez or Jessica Alba.

"I was truly just so happy to be working with Danny. He's lovely and has the purest spirit," said Alba. "His like love for life everyday is just incredible."

Trejo's trek to movie stardom is one of Hollywood's most unlikely. His troubled childhood ended in a life of crime, and drugs. He spent time in and out of jail, and then eventually, state prisons, including San Quentin and Soledad. It's there he cleaned up his act and discovered other interests, like boxing, writing and acting.

"It's just a blessing to be where I'm at," said Trejo. "The thing that I like doing is going back and telling the guys that are still there, 'Hey, you don't have to do this.' And telling the kids in high school, "Look, this is the road you're on.'"

A big part of Trejo's success is due to director Robert Rodriguez, who also happens to be his second cousin, and his biggest fan.

"He's an awesome guy," said Rodriguez. "He's a stand-up guy. There's no mistake you can make in life. Falling down isn't the mistake. It's when you don't get up and do something about your life. And that's what Danny's always been for me -- a big inspiration. And he has gone from ex-con to icon with this. He is just awesome and people are ready to embrace that."

The admiration is mutual especially regarding "Machete."

"He knows what the audience wants," said Trejo. "He delivered the first Latino superhero and I don't got to wear tights."

"Machete" is rated-R and is in theaters Friday.

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