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‘A Million Miles Away’: How Michael Peña Connects to the Film’s Real-Life Story | Arts And Entertainment

Wholesome and inspiring, the biopic A Million Miles Away follows the bumpy trajectory of José Hernández (Michael Peña) from childhood migrant farm worker to NASA astronaut.

Hernández, a smart and curious kid, gets stars in his eyes when he sees the very last of the Apollo moon missions on TV. But a space career seems, well, a million miles away for the first-generation American who travels with his parents and siblings harvesting California crops.

Juan Pablo-'A Million Miles Away'

(Credit: Prime Video)

It struck a chord with Peña. “My mom grew up not too far from where we shot in Mexico,” he revealed before the actors’ strike. “Neither of my parents had a lot of opportunities. Each worked two full-time jobs so we could go to good private schools. Becoming an actor is not the same as being an astronaut, but it is a nearly insane dream for anyone.”

Hernández’s insane dream is fueled by encouraging teachers and parents. His father’s (Julio César Cedillo) advice includes, “If you don’t know how, you have to learn.”

And boy, does Hernández take that to heart! He earns an electrical engineering degree and starts a successful career, but for NASA he must branch out (think: Russian lessons and scuba diving).

Family, like his business-minded wife, Adela (Parenthood’s Rosa Salazar), and their five kids, are Hernández’s rock. When he doubts his fitness for going into space, his cousin Beto (Bobby Soto) says, “Who better to leave this planet, dive into the unknown but a migrant farmworker?”

Who, indeed?

A Million Miles Away, Streaming now, Prime Video

This is an excerpt from TV Insider‘s October issue. For more in-depth, reported coverage devoted to streaming shows from the publishers of TV Guide Magazine, pick up the issue, currently on newsstands, or purchase it online here. You can also subscribe to TV Insider Magazine here now.

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