Cote de Pablo remembers sitting on her couch glued to the television as one by one, the Chilean miners trapped inside a collapsed mine were brought up after a harrowing 69-day search-and-rescue.
“I remember just sobbing quietly on my own because I couldn’t believe that after all that time they were alive and they were seeing their families,” she recalled to Fox News Latino recently. “I could only imagine what that moment must have been like for them.”
When the Chilean-born actress was called about four years later to be part of “The 33,” a film featuring the miners’ experience, she could not have said no.
“It was a dream,” de Pablo said. “I had just finished doing ‘NCIS,’ and it was a project that obviously appealed to me because it’s a story that takes place in Chile. I couldn’t believe I would be going back to Chile to film a movie for many months.”
She continued: “I couldn’t be prouder to be part of this movie, not just because of the incredible international cast, but [because] it was a rescue that was a success, and my country was in charge of it, and the entire world was watching ... I was really proud of that moment when they all came out.”
The film, out in theaters Friday, follows the true life events of the 2010 disaster in which a group of 33 miners were trapped inside the San José mine in Copiapo, Chile.
De Pablo, 35, plays Jessica Vega, the pregnant wife of one of the miners (played by Mario Casas). The rest of the cast includes Antonio Banderas, Rodrigo Santoro, Juliette Binoche, Lou Diamond Phillips, and Kate del Castillo.
She said the actors had the luxury of being able to meet the miners and their families – many of whom were used as extras in the film – and ask them questions about their experiences.
“It was quite a fortunate thing that we could talk to them whenever we wanted, because we were able to understand the emotional journey they went through during these 69 days,” De Pablo said. “These families members were so willing at times to divulge very personal information about that the journey.”
Filming took place primarily in a mine in Nemocon, Colombia, and in Copiapo, about a mile from the actual site.
Del Castillo, who plays Katty Valdivia, the wife of Mario “Super Mario” Sepulveda, said filming in Chile and speaking to the families was an amazing experience, because they gave insight into the life of a miner.
“These families are warriors,” she told FNL recently. “They are made of steel. I loved that I met with all of them, (and) it was very emotional just being there. It meant a lot to the cast, and it filled the set with energy.”
Banderas, speaking to Fox 411, said having the miners around was a blessing, but could also be very frustrating because "You cannot tell all the stories."
"Screen time is screen time," he said. "We could have had 33 movies – each point of view of each miner, there could be a movie."
“The 33” is exemplary of the human spirit, the strength of a family and the power of hope, de Pablo told FNL.
“But more importantly, I think it’s a story about faith – about losing it and getting it back. It’s a story of hope,” she said. “Today, when we are making so many movies about awful things, we don’t see many of these films with real happy endings.”
“The 33” opens nationwide on Friday.