In Machete Kills, out this Friday, venerable character actor Danny Trejo reprises his role as the titular tough guy Machete Cortez, a federale-turned-contract killer who is hired by the President (played by Carlos Estévez, a.k.a. Charlie Sheen) to put an end to the business dealings of a psychotic international arms dealer (played by Mel Gibson. Yep, Mel Gibson).

That Trejo is a natural in the role of big-screen badass comes as no surprise to those who know the 69-year-old Los Angeles native best, including Robert Rodriguez, the film’s director and Trejo’s second cousin (a fact unknown to the pair until Trejo's family visited the set of Desperado). That's because Trejo spent the first chapter of his life as a real-life badass.

Introduced to pot at the age of eight and heroin just four years later, Trejo's illegal antics escalated into armed robbery by the time he was 14. His formative years were spent in a series of juvenile detention centers and California State prisons, including stints at Folsom and San Quentin.

Trejo stumbled into acting accidentally, when he arrived on the set of 1985's Runaway Train in order to assist a fellow addict he was sponsoring.

"Now one of my favorite sayings is 'I would rather shoot for the moon and miss than aim for the gutter and make it,'" Trejo, who has amassed more than 250 acting credits, told a reporter from Prison Legal News of his newfound—and much more optimistic—outlook on life. "That’s out of the Book of Danny, Psalm 7."

As he returns to theaters in all his vengeful glory, we're recounting The Most Badass Moments from Danny Trejo's Actual Life.

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