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Home » A Million Miles Away Director Alejandra Márquez Abella On Bringing An Amazing Story To The Screen

A Million Miles Away Director Alejandra Márquez Abella On Bringing An Amazing Story To The Screen

by AcklinEHuey


  • A Million Miles Away tells the incredible true story of José Moreno Hernández’s journey from a migrant farmer to NASA engineer and astronaut.
  • Director Alejandra Márquez Abella was drawn to José’s story for its inspirational and motivational qualities, making it a privilege to work on the film.
  • Michael Peña and Rosa Salazar brought their own experiences and unique perspectives to their roles, making them the perfect fit for the film’s cast.

A Million Miles Away is the incredible true story of José Moreno Hernández. His journey begins in the fields as a migrant farmer alongside his family. Since he was a child, José has dreamed of going to space, and while the journey is long, he does everything he can to achieve it. This includes becoming an engineer, learning to fly, and traveling across the world. Although his dream is dismissed by some, he never stops trying, and with the support of his family, he eventually earns a spot at NASA, which is only the beginning.

A Million Miles Away, based on Hernández’s autobiography, is directed by Alejandra Márquez Abella. She also co-wrote the movie with Hernán Jiménez, and Bettina Gilois. Michael Peńa leads the powerhouse cast of A Million Miles Away, which includes Rosa Salazar, Julio Cesar Cedillo, Veronica Falcón, Garret Dillahunt, and Sarayu Blue.

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Alejandra Márquez Abella spoke with Screen Rant about A Million Miles Away, working with Hernández and being inspired by his story. Abella also shared why she never imagined anyone other than Salazar and Peña taking on these roles as well as filming in Mexico.​​​​ Editor’s Note: This interview was conducted during the 2023 SAG-AFTRA strike, and the movie covered here would not exist without the labor of the writers and actors in WGA and SAG-AFTRA.

Alejandra Márquez Abella Talks A Million Miles Away

Screen Rant: This movie is fantastic. I love what you did with this. What drew you to the story in the first place?

Alejandra Márquez Abella: Well, José’s story, no? It’s just such an amazing, motivational moving story. I couldn’t resist it. It was such an opportunity and a privilege to be working on it.

Can you talk to me a little bit about the challenges of adapting a real story into a movie, especially because this is adapting a full life?

Alejandra Márquez Abella: Well, of course, the licenses that you have to take from time to time, because it’s impossible to portray a 50-year experience in two hours. So that was a big thing, managing time. I could spend like a minute in a decade, and then go slower in other parts of the story. I think this was, I mean, being a story that happened in the fields, but at NASA, we have different environments and different locations to be on. I think it was like a dream.

The cast is just phenomenal. What did Michael Peña and Rosa Salazar bring to the roles that wasn’t necessarily in the script?

Alejandra Márquez Abella: Well, their own experiences, I think, helped a lot. Michael being a Mexican American. Rosa being a Peruvian American. Which is very different from my own experience being a Mexican. That specificity of that community I think was super necessary for the roles. I think they have such a creative spirit, both of them. Such a funny, heartwarming vibe. That it was unthinkable to have had someone else play those roles.

Can you talk to me a little bit about filming the training montages, especially the underwater sequences?

Alejandra Márquez Abella: Well, that was like actually having military training happen before my eyes. Because we had to have the same safety measures that they have. We had to have the trained persons perform that because it was a dangerous stunt, but I mean, it was interesting. It was at some point, even boring, because we had to repeat so many times the same thing. And even the scuba divers were like, “Oh, this is this is super easy. I can do it again. No? What? No, this is not easy.”

million miles away movie
Michael Peña and Rosa Salazar in A Million Miles Away

I love the throughline of Miss Young In the movie. Can you talk about the importance of putting a spotlight on the relationship between José and his teacher?

Alejandra Márquez Abella: Well, I think the significant thing about Ms. Young was a she had a shared experience. She was a migrant herself. And so, I’m so moved about just thinking about how she could see in that kid something that was important to her as well. And how that became something tangible that changed his life forever and his family’s. And I think that whenever people can do that for another person you should. It’s super important to touch lives in that way.

How did you work with José to really make sure that everyone got the details right?

Alejandra Márquez Abella: I met José during the pandemic we started zooming a lot and I constantly felt that he was like an uncle. We have this very familiar conversations Adela was always on them. So I don’t know it was super easy to come close, speak. It was a very nice thing for me to have him on my phone while on set. I can text an astronaut and ask him whether if this is accurate or not. So it was a magnificent companion on the journey.

That’s awesome. And then what was the most surprising part of the process?

Alejandra Márquez Abella: Well, we decided and I pushed real hard to shoot this film in Mexico. And, I mean, I was pretending to be sure that was a good idea all along. But then when we started faking all these places into, North California, Texas, Florida, and we were all around Mexico cities. So that was surprising. When I watched the film. I’m like, “Oh, we did that. Yeah.”

And then what do you think the key is to bringing a true story like this to the screen? And why do you think audiences are so drawn to them?

Alejandra Márquez Abella: I think there’s times where life can be so unbelievable. I think this is one of those cases, no? That you just see the story and it’s such an amazing, unbelievable thing that actually happened. And it should be elevated into this very big scope film that we did. And I don’t know I’m so happy because this is gonna inspire the lives of many, but it’s gonna be a nice thing for our community to watch and to see on the mainstream. So I’m happy because it has a double service.

About A Million Miles Away

million miles away review

A biopic about Jose Hernandez and his path from a farm worker to becoming an engineer and an astronaut. A tale of perseverance, community and sacrifice to accomplish a seemingly impossible dream.

Check out our other interview with the movie’s subject, José Moreno Hernández.

A Million Miles Away is available to stream on Prime Video.

Source: Screen Rant Plus

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