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Erin Hill
March 01, 2017 04:19 PM

Just days after his Oscars debut, Gary Alan Coe — also known as “Gary from Chicago” — is speaking out about his troubled past.

The man who rubbed elbows with Meryl Streep, Ryan Gosling and Mahershala Ali completed a 20-year prison sentence just days before the Academy Awards.

“I’m a changed man,” Coe told ET on Tuesday. “Anyone can do it and it’s hard work, it was not easy. It was very painful and now I am a changed man.”

Coe has been in and out of California’s prison system since 1994. In 1997, he was convicted of petty theft and sentenced to 25 years to life under the three-strikes law, according to a spokesperson with the state’s Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Along with multiple petty theft and robbery convictions, Coe was convicted of attempted rape in 1978.

After spending about 20 years in prison, Coe was re-sentenced under the Three Strikes Reform Act to just six years. Having served well over six years already, Coe was released from the Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison in Corcoran on Thursday, the spokesperson said.

“For all those women affected by my past, Gary is a changed man. I respect women. I’m not some monster,” he told Inside Edition, adding that he wants people to know that he’s “remorseful.”

“I’m a changed man,” he continued. “That I’ve made mistakes. That I am really remorseful and ashamed of when I was a teenager but now I am 59 years old and a changed man.”

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Coe and his fiancée Vicky Vines were part of the unsuspecting tour bus group that Oscars host Jimmy Kimmel invited into the auditorium at the Academy Awards.

“Little did we know that there was a surprise of our lives waiting for us,” Coe told ET. “They took our phones and gave us phones to take pictures with but we never knew what was going on. We thought we were going to take pictures of dresses, jewelry and all that kind of stuff.

“When the tour bus came in they had metal detectors. They warned us and made sure we didn’t have any weapons or whatever, like a normal security check. And then as we went in, we were still thinking we we’re gonna see [Oscar wardrobes].”

But the tourists were in for the surprise of their lives when they walked into the Oscars ceremony, and met many of the stars sitting in the front row.

“I got to hold an Oscar with Mahershala Ali,” Coe told ET. “So it turned out to be a wonderful, wonderful experience.”

Coe said he’s now focused on finding a job.

“A lot of guys in prison are watching me right now and I got out so that’s hope for them too,” Coe told ET. “When you change your life and you get out of prison, now you have to do the right thing. And so there’s a good story to this.”

“I’m looking for work. I can’t do anything without a job. And I’ll do anything. I mean anything, literally, so I can work,” he told the outlet. “Some people can’t find a job cause they don’t want to work at McDonalds or Burger King. I’ll work anywhere I can to take care of my family. A job is a job.”

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