Wandering around a West Hollywood soundstage with a basketball under his arm, Adrian Alonso, the 13-year-old star of the Mexican film La Misma Luna, could easily be mistaken for one of the boys playing on the courts across the street. During breaks, he checks out the fish tank in the lobby and looks for a pickup game of Ping-Pong in the lounge.
But watch him onscreen, and it’s clear he’s no average kid. In the movie he plays a precocious nine-year-old who misses his mother so much after she illegally immigrates to L.A. to work as a housekeeper that he sets out alone to cross the border and find her. The first feature from Guadalajara-born director Patricia Riggen, it sold for $5 million after sparking a bidding war at last year’s Sundance Film Festival; it will be released in theaters as Under the Same Moon in March. The film’s charm is largely due to Alonso, whose powerful performance musters a child’s willfulness, naïveté and unyielding love for his mother.
“He carried the movie on his shoulders with such fearlessness,” says America Ferrera, who plays one of the characters Alonso encounters on his journey.
Alonso, who started acting when he was seven, has appeared in a number of films and soap operas in his native Mexico. And he already has one major Hollywood film under his belt, 2005’s The Legend of Zorro, in which he had a small role as the son of Antonio Banderas.
He’s the only one in his family in show business. “My father [a businessman], he doesn’t like the cameras and all the lights, no, no, no,” says Alonso, who speaks English with the help of a translator. “My brother and my mom too. I’m the only one who is crazy.” His favorite actors, he adds, are macho men like Banderas and Mel Gibson. Asked about his dream role, he exclaims without pause, “The hero!”