Last March, I got a call from Director Jacob Tierney and Actor/Writer Sonja Bennett to let me know that I would be working with them in Preggoland.
At the time, I was in LA and after working out next to Ron Perlman a couple of random times at Gold’s Gym in Hollywood, I finally decided to catch up on his very popular series, Sons of Anarchy.
It had everything that I love – bikers, the very good-looking Charlie Hunnam and my personal fave, Katey Sagal. Season 4 introduced well-known Machete man, Danny Trejo as Romeo, the undercover bad guy working with the SAMCRO crew.
So when I heard that Danny Trejo was going to be in Preggoland as well, needless to say I was 50% excited and 50% nervous to meet the legendary bad guy.
The first day I met Danny Trejo, I was in for only a quick driving scene. I was sitting in the SUV while they set up the shot and I could see him across the parking lot. I tried to be cool about it. After all, the first rule of acting is never to freak out about a co-star. It just makes it weird. If you want to scream, giggle, or pee your pants – or all three at the same time – that’s what your trailer is for.
So I was going to be cool and I was… but then he waved at me. Oh God. I quickly looked around, thinking he was waving at the camera crew behind me. Nope. Then someone quietly mentioned
“Ah, Lisa. Danny wants to see you.”
I suddenly felt like I was in 1st grade and the scratchy intercom voice had buzzed in to tell Mme. David to “please send Lisa Durupt to the office”. You had no idea why you were being summoned but you were hoping that the fire alarm would go off on the way.
On the walk over to Danny Trejo, I calmed my 6 year old self down and made her promise not to mention Sons of Anarchy. He walked up to me, threw open his arms and yelled “Lisa! I am so happy to be working with you!” and gave me a big hug. It was all over for me. Could this be? The toughest man in movie land is happy to meet me? Of course, me being a total professional, I blurted out, “I just watched you in season 3 of Sons of Anarchy!”
“Ahhh yes, that is a great season! I was not in that one. I was in season 4” he said laughing.
Oh crap…epic fail.
Turns out that is why he is the top working bad guy around. He is the nicest, kindest, most lovable teddy bear you could ever imagine.
Over the next of couple days that we worked together, I found out so many amazing facts about this ex-con-turned-movie star. Now 100% sober of everything and anything that you could imagine, he openly shared his very inspirational tale of survival. From taking up boxing in a San Quentin prison to stay alive, to working with others who are trying to clean up their own lives, this man blew my mind. Every day was like story time with Mr. Trejo and holy crap were they good stories.
At one point, he shared the whole in-depth story of getting his big break on Runaway Train after a fellow inmate-turned-screenwriter asked him to train Eric Roberts to box for the film.
“$350 a day when you are an ex-con in Venice, California with kids? You say, ‘Hells yes!'”
So of course, I asked about his kids. Without hesitation he turned and lifted his shirt off his back, proudly displaying the beautifully inked portraits of his kids when they were small. He went on to talk about them for a good half hour while we waited for our next scene to start. He is devoted family man who is very proud of his babies.
Of all the amazing stories and valuable lesson I took away from that experience, my favorite memory was when I asked him what is was like to be known as Machete.
“This movie stuff is awesome, don’t get me wrong, I am so grateful. But my family, my kids, that is the good stuff in life. Coming to work and not having to kill someone, for a change… that is pretty nice too. “
The overall experience of working with Danny Trejo? The furthest thing possible from a fail. It was a joy.