Danny Trejo Reveals the Time Charles Manson Hypnotized Him in Jail

Danny Trejo's lived an interesting life, to say the least. In his new memoir Trejo: My Life of Crime, Redemption, and Hollywood, the Machete actor reveals he once was hypnotized by the infamous Charles Manson during his time in the Los Angeles County Jail. He describes the serial killer as looking "greasy, dirty, scrawny," saying that "so poor, he didn't have a belt, and instead used a piece of string to keep his pants up" when he ran into him. He says he felt sorry for the man and became his friend, explaining his looks as so small that he seemed to need protection.

As the story goes, Manson allegedly told him and the group of men that he "could get us high" with his hypnotic abilities. "It was like a guided meditation," he said of the experience. The cult leader told them to imagine themselves smoking weed, then heroin. "By the time he described it hitting my bloodstream, I felt the warmth flowing through my body," Trejo writes. "If that white boy wasn't a career criminal, he could have been a professional hypnotist."

Unfortunately, the brief stint where he met Manson wasn't the only time the actor did time behind bars. He'd had multiple run-ins with police since the age of 10, landing himself in a series of juvenile and state prisons. It was actually during his time in Soledad state prison, that he wound up turning his life around. He'd gone sober and made a promise to God that he'd do his best to change the lives of those around him for the better if he could "die with dignity" one day. The promise led him to a film set in 1985 where he was helping someone struggling with their sobriety. While there, he was approached by an assistant director. "You have a good look," the crew member said. "Can you play a convict?"


"I didn't know I was being stereotyped," Trejo says. "I just knew I was working. And I think the fact that I was stereotyped for so long got a lot of people jobs, so we just opened the door." Trejo had a breakout year after starring as an extra in Runaway Train. He went on to star in a series of shows and films, grabbing various stereotypical roles before nabbing bigger spots in various famous films like Machete, Spy Kids, and Desperado.