The actor is known for his involvement in gangs as he was growing up, and at one point, he was set to be part of two films, American Me and Blood In, Blood Out.
Both films are about Mexican gangsters and crime, but American Me is based on the Mexican Mafia, while the latter is based on a fictional gang.
American Me was actor Edward James Olmos’ directorial debut, and he met up with Trejo, and Trejo’s friend Eddie Bunker, who was a screenwriter who had also been to prison for gang-related crimes. The three were getting together to discuss the script, which Trejo had some concerns about.
Having read through the details involved in the movie, Trejo, whose family grew up surrounded by gang members, knew that some facts weren’t just exaggerated, they were completely fabricated – including one account of a sexual assault in prison.
In his memoir, Trejo writes: “I got down to business. ‘Look, Edward, the problem is there are things in this script that aren’t true.’
“I told him some of my concerns.
“Edward said, ‘I know, but it makes more theatrical sense for the piece.’
“I was hoping he’d say, I know and we’re going to address that, or, we’re going to figure out a way to tell our story without twisting the truths of real people, but he didn’t.
“He was married to the idea that the fictional arc of the script was more important than letting truth get in the way of a good story. This might be true in the offices of Hollywood producers, but it wasn’t in the world I knew.
“I couldn’t believe how casual he was about details that were so critical.”
Trejo then refused to have any part in the film.
Speaking to crime boss Joe Morgan, who was known for his involvement with the mafia – La eMe – Trejo knew he would already have heard about the movies, saying there ‘wasn’t much that happened in the world that he didn’t know about’.
Trejo recalled: “He got straight to the point. ‘Which one are you going to do?’
“I said, ‘C’mon, Joe. I’m going to do Blood In, Blood Out, holmes.’
“He was happy. He said, ‘Good, that’s the cute one!’
“Then he said, ‘La Onda’, stretching out the word. La Onda was the name of the fictional Mexican gang in Blood In, Blood Out. I always laugh thinking about Joe Morgan calling Blood In, Blood Out, a movie about a gang of stone-cold killers, ‘the cute one’.
“‘Vacay un chingon de pedo-there’s going to be a lot of problems with that other movie’, Joe added.
“He talked about Olmos directly. ‘That baboso is running around saying he met with me in Chino and got my approval. It’s all bullshit. I refused to see him. There’s a lot of bullshit in that script.’
“That’s what I tried to tell Eddie.
“He said, ‘You know, Danny, you could do that other movie…’
“He was saying he wouldn’t hold it against me if I did American Me.
“I said, ‘No, Joe. I’ve got too much respect’.
“‘Gracias, holmes. Vatos got enough respect for you that you could get away with it’.”
Trejo later said that the film had had been the cause of the murders of 10 people who were involved with the mafia.