Emilio Estevez has never been one to sit back and let things come to him. After a small role, cut from the finished film, in “Apocalypse Now,” he cut his teeth in television projects until his first big role opposite Matt Dillon in “Tex.” The next time he worked with Francis Ford Coppola he made the cut, appearing as Two Bit Matthews in “The Outsiders,” which was based on the novel by S.E. Hinton. Estevez took another Hinton novel, “That Was Then, This Is Now,” and adapted it for the screen, starring in the film version in 1985. That same year also introduced film fans to what was referred to as “The Brat Pack”…a group of highly talented young actors that took Hollywood by storm. Films like “The Breakfast Club” and “St. Elmo’s Fire” established Estevez as a bonafide star. In 1987 he wrote, directed and starred in “Wisdom,” a film best described as the tale of a modern day Robin Hood.
He went on to star in films like “Stakeout,” “Young Guns” and “The Mighty Ducks,” films so popular that they spawned sequels. He co-starred with his brother, Charlie Sheen, in another film he wrote and directed, “Men at Work.” He also directed himself and Charlie in the acclaimed film about the porno industry, “Rated X.” In 2006, he wrote, directed and appeared in the award winning ensemble film “Bobby,” a film that dealt with the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy. “Bobby” made many film critics Top 10 lists (including mine) and confirmed Estevez as a talent to watch. He makes good on the promise of “Bobby” with his newest film, “The Way.” While traveling the country in a motor coach promoting the film, Mr. Estevez took the time to sit down with MediaMikes:
Mike Smith: What drew you to this project?
Emilio Estevez: The young man standing behind me (he gestures to his son, Taylor, who is videoing the promotional event). He went to Spain in 2003 with my father. They went over there to check out the Camino (a pilgrimage that figures prominently in “The Way”). Taylor had been working as my dad’s assistant on “The West Wing.” He went to Spain. And in a little town on the Camino my son fell in love. He met a girl, fell in love and decided to move there. So that was sort of the beginning of it. I figured if I wanted to spend time with my son I needed to figure out how to work in Spain. I kept saying, “hey, why don’t we go over there and make a film?” That started a dialogue. It started us talking about it. And then little by little I developed a story. I came up with this idea of this man who loses his son in Spain…which is kind of what I experienced…but I knew it needed to be bigger than that. It needs to be more like “The Wizard of Oz.” Because the Camino is marked in yellow. The Camino de Santiago could be the Emerald City. And the audience is Dorothy…along with the Cowardly Lion, the Tin Man and the Scarecrow…off to see the Wizard they go.
MS: Wow! I never even thought of it like that but it makes so much sense.
EE: Remember where we meet Jack (a character in the film)…he’s in a haystack. He’s the scarecrow because he has writer’s block…
MS: He can’t use his brain.
EE:…he can’t use his brain.
MS: Wow. Have you ever made the pilgrimage yourself?
EE: Just by car. I spent a lot of time getting to know it. We moved along the Camino with this small crew. There were about 50 of us. We covered about 350 kilometers of it. We were there for quite a long time.
MS: With the exception of your own films and a couple of “family” cameos (Estevez has appeared on “The West Wing,” starring his father and on “Two and a Half Men,” which starred his brother), you’re not on screen much anymore. Do you plan to focus more on working behind the camera as opposed to in front of it?
EE: Danny DeVito once described directing as “death by a thousand questions.” And that’s very accurate. You’re on a movie for two years plus. When you’re acting you can do two or three films a year , but it doesn’t knock your socks off. You get to stay intact. I want to get back in front of the camera a little bit more. That’s the overall plan…to do a little bit of each. I’d like to be able to do what Clint Eastwood does. He’s in a movie when he wants to be, he’s not when he doesn’t want to be.
MS: I’ve asked other actors who direct, like Keith Gordon and Charles Martin Smith, this question: is there a role out there that would bring you back?
EE: There is a role out there. I wrote it. It’s kind of a family franchise type of film along the lines of “The Mighty Ducks.” I wrote it. I’ll direct it. And I’ll star in it.