For Emilio Estevez, “The Way” is a wholly family-oriented movie.
Martin Sheen, an actor, was not only directed by him, but his mother Janet also worked as a producer. The family’s Spanish heritage is also mentioned in the film.
According to Sheen, “My father was a Gallego from northern Spain, which is not far from Santiago de Compostela,” Sheen told Sam Rubin of KTLA 5 in response to a question. “I’ve always wanted to walk the Camino, and the first and only time I did so was while filming ‘The Way’ on camera with Emilio, who created the role for me. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done, to be honest. It’s the accomplishment I’m most proud of.
Especially impressive given that Sheen has acted in blockbusters like “Apocalypse Now,” “Badlands,” and “The Departed.”
The term “Camino” refers to the Way of St. James, often known as the Camino de Santiago. It is a historic pilgrimage that takes people to the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, which is in northwest Spain, where the apostle Saint James the Great’s shrine and tomb are located.
According to Emilio, he created the role for his father in order to “remind people what an extraordinary actor and a national treasure Martin Sheen is.”
“For me to be able to write this role for him was, I felt, sort of a gift that a son could give to a father. I dedicate the film to my Galician grandfather, Francisco Estevez,” the “Mighty Ducks” actor revealed. “The movie was really inspired by my son, Taylor, who went to live in Spain for nine years, met a girl, and fell in love. They lived actually along The Camino for many, many years.”
To further pay homage to his ancestors, Sheen is credited as an executive producer on the project under his birthname: Ramon Gerardo Estevez for the first time ever.
Sheen, born Ramón Antonio Gerardo Estévez, started using the stage name Martin Sheen “because it was not popular to have a Latino or Hispanic last name,” Estevez explained.
“The West Wing” actor never officially changed his name. His marriage license and all of his children were born under the Estevez surname.
However, his stage name confused his own father when he saw him perform “The Subject was Roses” in New York decades ago.
“He stood looking at the marquee and wondered where my name was because it was Sheen, “The West Wing” actor said. “I was so pleased with Emilio dedicating ‘The Way’ to my father. I felt I was kind of hoping, that he would understand which I’m sure he did.”
The film was released in 2011, and it’s headed back to theaters this week. The film follows Sheen’s character to France where he has to gather the remains of his son, who died while attempting the pilgrimage to Spain’s Santiago de Compostela. From there, his character decides to take the journey himself.
Estevez believes now is the perfect time for the movie’s re-release.
“We have all had to press our reset buttons in order to recover from the pandemic. I believe that everyone is trying to figure out what their life’s next chapter will entail, he remarked. “We lost over a million Americans, which is such a tremendous loss. We haven’t given ourselves enough time to mourn and grieve that loss, in my opinion. The film explores how humorous it is as well. It actually enables us to sort of tuck into how that loss and mourning feel. I believe that unless we get through and move past this sorrow and mourning, we won’t be able to move on to whatever comes next.
On May 16, “The Way” will be back in theaters.
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