By Jared Bowen
Oct. 10, 2011
BOSTON — El Camino de Santiago is a path for pilgrims which stretches more than 500 miles from France to Spain. It's arduous and emotional especially as depicted in the new film The Way which receives a very intimate treatment via a collaboration between father and son Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez. "I've gotten to a place where yes, I am concentrating on things that are personal and excite me," Estevez said. He wrote, directed and appears in the film playing Daniel, the son to Sheen's cantankerous Tom.
A day into Daniel's trek on the Camino he's killed in a freak accident and when Tom arrives to retrieve the body, he decides to finish the journey for his son. The heavy subject matter did not deter Sheen. "Like any artist you go to that place where you store those sense memories and you conjure them up when the opportunity is appropriate," Sheen said referring to playing a mourning father as his real-life son stood on-set nearby.
Long before their first footfalls on The Way, Sheen helped his son chart the story. "I live pretty close to my folks about 200 yards down the street so there was no escaping [Sheen] while we were working on the script," Estevez said. "I'm like, 'oh my God he's got another idea,' I just got out of the shower." Screenplay in hand, The Way was filmed in sequence — following Tom's trek as he's joined by a sweet Dutchman, a jaded Canadian woman and a dejected Irishman.
A lot of real-life El Camino de Santiago pilgrims also became part of filming. "That gives it an added reality," Sheen explained. "Emilio is very careful not to get into anyone's way because that's a very sacred time for a lot of people, a lot of people in mourning. A lot of people are carrying a lot of serious burdens and they're looking for healing and they're looking for alone time to have a chance to reflect."
The Way is a film that follows disparate journeys, ones accented with humor and sadness, but dominated by Sheen's march forward. And for that reason it may draw comparisons to Sheen's other recent high-profile father-son relationship with the troubled Charlie Sheen.
"We're a family and we are supportive of each other no matter what," Sheen said. "We pull for each other, we pray for each other, we lift each other up and particularly when it's most necessary." After a legendary Hollywood career, Martin Sheen has found the way on-screen and off.
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