Michael Peña, a beloved character actor who has become a formidable leading man in recent years, has been cast as the lead in “A Million Miles Away,” a true story about José Hernández, the first Mexican migrant worker to travel to space.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the project, which is still in pre-production, will be helmed by director Alejandra Márquez Abella, who debuted her critically-acclaimed film “The Good Girls” in 2018.

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Scripting duties will be handled by Abella and screenwriter Hernán Jiménez, based on an initial draft by “McFarland, USA” writer Bettina Gilois, who passed away in 2020. The Mexico City-based production is set to begin filming in late August of this year.

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Hernández, who wrote the autobiography “Reaching For the Stars” upon which the film is based, spent much of his childhood working in the fields between Michoacán and California. He didn’t learn to speak English until he was 12 years old, and had a lifelong dream of one day traveling to space.

To do so, Hernández became a celebrated scientist and worked to develop a full-field digital mammography imaging system, the first of its kind, to detect early stages of breast cancer. Hernández was then rejected for various space missions 11 times before finally boarding the NASA Space Shuttle mission STS-128 in 2009.

According to Space.com, following the 2009 mission, President Obama encouraged Hernández to run for Congress in 2011 as a Democrat. After winning the primary, Hernández lost the general election in 2012 to Republican Jeff Denham, the incumbent. Hernández has hinted at another congressional campaign in the past, but so far, those plans have not come to fruition.

Peña, who was heavily praised for his performance in Netflix’s “Narcos: Mexico,” will also be starring alongside Owen Wilson in “Secret Headquarters,” the latest film from “Paranormal Activity 3” directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, reports WFMZ 69.

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