Even when he’s made to wear an ugly holiday sweater in A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas, Danny Trejo still reeks of cool. The veteran actor, last seen being surly in Sons of Anarchy, has survived serious adversity—drugs, jail, Spy Kids—and his career’s been en fuego of late. Your moustache may never be as sweet as his, but you can still learn from Mr. Machete’s trajectory—and from his tips on bouncing back from mistakes, keeping fit and, yeah, meeting women.
MADE MAN: What’s your advice for finding your inner bad ass?
DANNY TREJO: You can look bad on the outside, but inside, you have to have a heart of gold. I love playing the bad guy in movies, because the bad guy always dies. That’s the real world. If someone asked me to play a bad guy that always gets away with it, I’d pass. That’s the very message I preach to guys who are in crisis… the bad guy always loses and the good guy always wins. It’s the one thing movies and real life see eye to eye on.
MM: What did you learn from being in jail?
DT: I learned how to survive. If you are dealing with anything difficult in life, you have to do whatever it takes to not let it get to you. Drugs and alcohol almost killed me too, but I just had to fight back. And when things go south, pray.
MM: What’s your advice for guys who have made a mistake in life but want a second chance?
DT: People have to see you want to change. Don’t be lazy or self centered. Always see what you can do for people. This really worked for me. I think that anyone could turn their life around if they want to.
MM: You look like you are in great shape. What’s your secret?
DT: Consistency. And I’ve always been able to work out anything frustrating me via weights and boxing, and that’s really been good.
MM: You do a lot of volunteer work. Is this a great way for a guy to meet hot chicks?
DT: Absolutely! Everything I have is a result of giving to others, so contributing your time or support—even if it’s just a few words—is great. I’ve dedicated my life to helping people and it’s kept me in a good place.
MM: Any parting words of wisdom?
DT: Don’t judge a book by its cover. See what’s going on inside.