Next time you gaze at the stars, remember one of them grew up right here in Stockton. Jose Hernandez, a proud Stockton native, isn't just any star; he's a retired astronaut who journeyed through space aboard the shuttle Discovery in 2009. Now, Hernandez's remarkable life is about to make a cinematic splash with the upcoming movie, "A Million Miles Away."
The transition from reality to reel has been an emotional one for Hernandez. "Very humbling, very touching," he described, clearly moved by the cinematic portrayal of his life's journey.
With the casting of Michael Pena, known for roles like "The Martian," to play Hernandez, there's a touch of irony. "I recommended him," Hernandez shared with a chuckle, "He already has astronaut experience, so why not?"
But the film isn't merely about Hernandez's astronaut days. It paints a vivid picture of his early life as the son of a migrant farm worker, his student days at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, and finally his stellar career with NASA.
In a cinematic landscape dominated by fictional superheroes, Hernandez believes this movie stands out with its real-life inspirational narrative. "Kids will see it, teachers will show it at schools and say, 'Look, this is what it takes to succeed in life,'" Hernandez emphasized.
While the astronaut-turned-cinematic-inspiration is set to grace several red carpets for the movie premieres, he also hinted at the possibility of another space adventure. With Amazon's Jeff Bezos at the helm of space exploration company Blue Origin, Hernandez joked, "If my phone rings and says, 'Hey, we've got a ride for you, giddy up.' I'm there."
For now, Jose Hernandez is firmly grounded, working as an aerospace engineering consultant and running a family-owned vineyard and winery in San Joaquin County. But with "A Million Miles Away" set to launch in select theaters on Sept. 8 and later on Amazon Prime, Hernandez's story is bound to inspire many more dreams, both on Earth and beyond.
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