Emilio Estevez made 'The Way' to 'reconnect with my Spanish roots'

Emilio Estevez directed "The Way." File Photo by Christine Chew/UPI
1 of 5 | Emilio Estevez directed "The Way." File Photo by Christine Chew/UPI | License Photo

LOS ANGELES, May 15 (UPI) -- Emilio Estevez said his 2010 movie, The Way, returning to theaters Tuesday via Fathom Events, was inspired by his Spanish heritage.

Estevez, 61, directed his father, Martin Sheen, as grieving father Tom Avery, taking the pilgrimage​ to distribute his late son's (Estevez) ashes along the Camino de Santiago.


"Between wanting to reconnect with my Spanish roots and wanting to honor my grandfather and my son, this film was really born out of that," Estevez told UPI in a recent phone interview.

Estevez's son, Taylor, moved to Spain in 2003 and married a Spanish woman. Estevez began to learn about the Camino on his visits to his son.

The Camino de Santiago leads to the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, northwestern Spain. Pilgrims from around the world make the journey there for religious, spiritual or personal reasons.


Sheen also was an executive producer of The Way. The producer credit reads Ramon Gerard Estevez, Sheen's birth name.

"He's never seen his real name on screen before," Emilio Estevez said.

Sheen changed his name when he began acting in the '50s. Sheen's other son, Carlos Estevez, went by Charlie Sheen, but Emilio kept the family name.

Estevez said he still remembers his father telling the story about his grandfather, Francisco, discovering the stage name Martin Sheen, who was performing The Subject Was Roses on Broadway in 1967.

"When his father came to see him on Broadway in 1967, he looked up at the marquee and he saw Martin Sheen, not his son's name," Estevez said. "My dad said he saw him shake his head and just was so disappointed."

Estevez also dedicated The Way to Francisco Estevez.

Estevez, best known for acting in The Breakfast Club, Young Guns and The Mighty Ducks, first directed the 1986 film Wisdom starring himself and Demi Moore.

The Way was the sixth feature film Estevez directed. Estevez remembered the 2010 production in which he led a 50-person crew filming Sheen and co-stars Deborah Kara Unger, James Nesbitt and Yorick van Wageningen on the path.


Estevez said The Way crew began at the Pyrenees Mountains bordering France and Spain. He said he never made the journey as a pilgrim, but scouted locations beforeleading the crew.

"I came to know the Camino quite well," Estevez said. "Our time on the Camino was all purpose-driven and less as Pilgrims."

Estevez said it took 40 days to film The Way, which is about as long as a pilgrimage takes when not filming a movie along the way. He said former pilgrims may notice some inconsistencies.

"There are some pilgrims who are going to watch the movie and say, 'They're walking the wrong way. They've already left France. Why are they in this location?'" Estevez said.

He explained he had to improvise to get shots he needed while filming on the Camino, sometimes having to complete scenes after they'd left a location. He completed the movie in Spain rather than in a studio, though.

"Sometimes, we had to make choices based on light, based on availability," Estevez said. "Once we left the location, that was it. We were moving on."

Estevez said he was reminded of The Way when Ocean Avenue Entertainment CEO Chris Bueno informed the director that the film was part of a library for a company that filed a motion to abandon rights in bankruptcy court.


Bueno had purchased and released other movies in similar legal circumstances and asked Estevez if he was interested in recovering The Way. The production companies, theatrical and home video distributors had gone bankrupt and their libraries had changed hands multiple times since 2010.

"What's so insane about this is I didn't even know that," Estevez said. "So we set about rescuing it."

Estevez originally thought The Way could go to streaming platforms and DVD, but Fathom offered nearly 1,000 screens for Tuesday's showings. Estevez said Fathom's rights expire June 16 and The Way will consider home release options then.

"You make a movie and it comes out and if it doesn't make a mark at the box office, generally you're done," Estevez said. "You know pretty quickly after Friday night if you've got any legs. This is that kind of film that just keeps rolling along."

Another reason Estevez wanted to re-release The Way: He intends to make a sequel. Martin Sheen is committed to reprising his role "exploring the further adventures of Tom Avery and where he arrives in his life after the first movie ends."

Tickets for Tuesday's screenings of The Way are available at Fathom Events.


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