An Interview with Director Patricia Riggen & Eugenio Derbez #MiraclesFromHeaven

Miracles from Heaven
Director: Patricia Riggen
Writers: Christy Beam (novel), Randy Brown (adaptation)
Starring: Jennifer Garner, Brighton Sharbino, Martin Henderson 
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for thematic material, including accident and medical images
Official Socials: Facebook | Twitter | InstagramIMDb
Hashtag:  #MiraclesfromHeaven
Based on the incredible true story of the Beam family. When Christy (Jennifer Garner) discovers her 10-year-old daughter Anna (Kylie Rogers) has a rare, incurable disease, she becomes a ferocious advocate for her daughter's healing as she searches for a solution. After Anna has a freak accident, an extraordinary miracle unfolds in the wake of her dramatic rescue that leaves medical specialists mystified, her family restored and their community inspired.

This past Monday, we had the pleasure to sit down in a round-table interview with Director Patricia Riggen and Eugenio Derbez. Patricia Riggen is a Mexican film director best known for 2007 film La Misma Luna and the 2011 Disney Channel original film Lemonade Mouth. As for Eugenio Derbez is a very well known actor in the Hispanic world and slowly conquering America. Take look of what we spoke about...

Why was it important for you to take on the role of the doctor? And why was it important for you to tell this story?
Eugenio Derbez: It was important to me because it's rare to see a Latino in the big screen. Unless he's a criminal or an alcoholic. It was very inspiring to portray this doctor, a Harvard Professor, and number one in his field, who happens to be a Latino from Mexico.
Patricia Riggen: There are very few movies like this, nowadays. When one bumps into this opportunity, you have to take it. I took it with a lot of responsibilities. To be very truthful to the real characters. To bring in to the audiences a movie that is very emotional and yet very authentic.

From all the roles you played throughout your career, there are always some components (family dynamic wise) you touch upon family issues that are very strong and hard... heartwreching. When you take upon these roles you're taking upon families to what aspect?
Eugenio: First of all from my experience, when you're watching a comedy movie, you laughed but there is no message behind that laugh. You walk out of the theater empty. At the end you ask, "what do you think of the movie?" and people reply, "It was good". But when you put your heart in a story and you feel related, these elements make the movie more relatable. You understand what life is about. You laughed and cry and it's just a different experience.

First of all, I want to congratulate you on your star.
Eugenio: Thank you.

The film was very beautiful and very relatable. Really anybody can identify with it. What part of the story did not make it to the film?
Patricia: One of the keys in making a movie is to be very concise.  You have to make into a two hours. The sickness was longer and it had more steps. Christy, being the mom had to go through many doctors, in order to get a diagnosis. They kept missing it and missing it. And she knew something was wrong until she finally met Dr. Nurko. I had to condense that. Basically nothing that's very important. I think we touched every important aspect. You have to make sure to make parts shorter for a movie purpose. I do think everything else is there.

I noticed you were careful not to preach in the movie, yet you kept the message of hope. How did you balance that?
Patricia: When I'd received the script, it was very religious. Very dogmatic. It was important to me to open up the movie. To be very inclusive of people of different faiths and even people that have no faith. I consider myself of good values. I believe in human kindness and family. These are things I can relate to. I made sure to bring these elements to the movie to make it more universal. But never shy away from the story of faith either because Jennifer's character, Christy Beam, at the center of her journey it's her loss of faith. Correct? So I completely had to embraced it.

(In Spanish):
Good afternoon, I'm humble to have you both here. The  movie is very incredible and it's a movie out of your comfort zone.
Eugenio: Yes

You're always making us laughed but now you're making us shed tears. How important was this role for you, specially having the doctor being a fellow and well known Latino?
As I'd mentioned before, he is a Mexican doctor. As I met with him, he was very inspiring. It's rare to find a Mexican born doctor and to be well known for his career. Honestly, he's very inspiring. Also, doctors in The United States are more focus on your medical issues. They just cure. In Latin America, doctors are more open. They want to know you, your family and even your dog. They have full conversations, they hug you... it's a quality that you're not able to find here. Which is something I spotted right away when I met him. He was very caring with his patients. Which is something we made sure to incorporate. With his comedy and way of caring is what makes him so special.

Patricia, what attracted you to do this movie? No mines in this movie? (Speaking of her previous work, The 33).
Patricia: It was very different from my previous projects. Plus it included a building, elevators and air conditioner. Most of all, the popularity was women and not 33 men. Only one.
Eugenio: A very important one.
Patricia: One but felt like having all 33.
In reality, all my movies have something in common. Under the Same Moon, The 33... they're all emotional. This is something I do out of nature. Even if they're try to stop me, I will always put some sort of feelings in my movies. Yet, I do not like leaving my audiences sad. I always find a happy ending. The best ending, like with this story. Specially since it's based on a true story. We had the opportunity to meet the family, to get close to that tree, and to come in conclusion their story is real. And why not tell it? Now with the holidays, Holy Week, it's worth telling this beautiful story.

Eugenio, you are having the best time in your career from Hollywood movies to working with Jennifer Garner. She's even mentioned you have a serious side of you. What does she mean by that statement?
Eugenio: I actually love that statement. Everyone knows me as a comedian actor. It may open up doors for me as all they see is a comedian. It's an opportunity to see me as something more. Specially to those who are not familiar with my work.

As being Latina female director, how's your journey been?
Patricia: I feel welcome in this field. I've been very fortunate, I haven't been able to stop working. Every year the movies are bigger, more challenging and with more budgets. It's been a growing experience. I've been very fortunate since I know there are more female fighting to get in this field. I feel like I have a responsibility to do my best. If I do bad, I'm sure they would say, let's never hire a female director. Which is something you will never hear if a male director did poorly. If he does bad, all they would say is he did bad and never to hire him in particular. As a female, I always have to do my best to show that we, as female, are capable of doing anything.

Eugenio, yesterday we spoke about your miracles. Now that you can take a look into your past, is this still surreal?
Eugenio: This is still very surreal. I never expected to exceed so much in my career. Starting with Instructions Not Included, this open doors like I never imagined. Even my star in Hollywood, I'm still in shock. Knowing that is there yet I haven't been able to process that is real. These are blessing, miracles, in my life.

What is it like to be a leader in this field?
Patricia: I don't see it as this. I see it more like an opportunity. I am not debating whether I will do a project or not. I just do it. Regardless whether they think it's a good idea or not, I will make it. You cannot let anyone tell you what you can do or not do. You have to be strong and not let anyone make you feel less.

What was your favorite moment in the film?
Eugenio: I don't' want to spoil the end but it was the last scene with Jennifer.
Patricia: I remember we did not rehearse this with the girls, we just decided to do it at the moment for that scene. Suddenly the girls were like "This doctor is crazy!" Everyone started laughing. It was such a good laugh. Which brings the importance of Eugenio's personality. Everyone in the crew were asking, "Who is this actor?", "This actor is fabulous, where is he from?". They didn't know who he was but at the end he was their favorite.

Make sure to watch Miracles From Heaven! It's such an inspiring story. Read Dinorah's review, here.

Thanks to Columbia Pictures we have Miracles from Heaven's book and journal!

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