Father Dave welcomes back actor, writer, producer, and director Emilio Estevez to discuss the re-release of his 2011 film “The Way.” He directs and stars in the movie along with his father Martin Sheen, and it is returning to theaters with additional content for one night only on May 16.
“The Way” follows Martin’s character as he walks the Camino de Santiago after the death of his son, played by Emilio. Emilio describes the early days of working on the movie, and how Father Dave and Busted Halo played a role. “You reached out to me and you said, ‘I’ve heard you’ve done this movie?’ And I said, ‘Nobody really knows about it yet.’ And you said, ‘Well, I do and you’ve got to come sit down and talk to me about it.’ I didn’t even really have my talking points,” Emilio recalls. “You’ve been a true believer of this project from the beginning. And I’m just grateful to you and for you.”
The movie was inspired by Emilio and Martin’s own family history. “This really came out of my dad’s desire to want to walk the Camino. His father Francisco, to whom I dedicate the movie, was born about 50 miles from Santiago de Compostela, a little town outside of a bigger town called Vigo. So my father had always heard of the Camino de Santiago and had always wanted to go,” Emilio says. In 2003, Martin and Emilio’s son visited the area, and the trip took a twist. “On the Camino, they stopped in a town called Burgos. My son met a gal, fell in love and decided to move to Spain,” he explains. “So I started saying, well, if I’m going to spend time with my son, I [have] to figure out how to work there. And so my father and I began this dialogue. If we make this movie in Spain, let’s make a movie on the Camino.”
LISTEN: Fr. Dave Interviews ‘The Way’s’ Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez
“Years later, I completed the script. We went off to Spain to make this film after getting turned down by every studio in Hollywood, because you walk into these rooms with these executives, and they all want to make the next big action film,” Emilio reflects. “So we decided we’ll go over there and we’ll find true believers. And that’s essentially what happened.”
Emilio explains the journey the film continued to take long after its limited release in 2011. “Our distribution company sort of ran out of funds, and we were left on our own. Then the movie languished for a long time; It had a bit of a life on DVD and on streaming, but then it disappeared. Recently in the last couple of years, I have been endeavoring to get the movie out of ‘movie jail,’ because it was actually sitting in a courthouse with a motion to abandon rights,” he says. Emilio was able to successfully regain the movie’s rights, which led to its return to theaters through Fathom Events.
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“The feedback that I would get, through snail mail, online, or whatever, was people reaching out saying, ‘Your movie changed my life,’ over and over again.” Emilio says, “People will have an opportunity to not just see it on the big screen, but see it in community. And that’s really what the movie is all about, it’s about creating community. When you’re on the pilgrimage and you’re doing the Camino, that is what you find. You find community whether you want to or not. Sometimes the people who you travel with, your fellow pilgrims, are some of your best teachers, even though you might not want to travel with them.”
Emilio also teased a potential sequel to the movie, which would follow Martin Sheen’s character Tom on a new journey. The screenplay begins with Tom working with Doctors Without Borders in Nigeria, when he receives a book written by a man he walked the Camino with in the first film. Emilio says, “In the book is some very disturbing information that prompts Tom to pack up, leave Nigeria and go find the writer to answer some of the questions that are now burning inside of him. So that is the setup for the next journey, and it does ultimately take us from Nigeria, to Dublin to Amsterdam, to Brussels, to France, and then back to Spain.”