Finding the Way
Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez talk life, family, the road and their new movie about it all
Published: October 26, 2011
Estevez: Yeah, but you’ve got to put your balls on the line. You can’t lead with your head on something like this or you’re going to get knocked down. But if you bring one up from the depths of your … nutsack, you’ve got a shot.
MT: Martin, you tried your hand at directing a feature once, right?
Sheen: Yup. After that, it was “No thank you.” No more for me.
Estevez: You know Jack Nicholson directed once. John Wayne directed once. They got a taste of it and—
Sheen: There’s only a few guys that do it, right? Clint. Rob Reiner. Bob Redford. But not for me.
MT: I want to talk about earnestness. It seems to be a quality that runs in both of you, but comes out, to my eyes, in different ways. Martin, it seems to express itself through your personal life, through your political activism. Emilio, it seems to permeate much of what you’ve done as both an actor and, most especially, as a filmmaker.
Estevez: The truth is I’m incredibly optimistic. I mean, I can go to a dark place. Everyone can. Pessimism and cynicism are low-hanging fruit and everyone grabs for it. It’s reflected in our politicians and our media. I want to go higher on the tree. I’m a winemaker so I know the difference between rotting and fermenting fruit. I like to think that the way I live and the films that I make are a reflection of that. I’m not edgy. These are my cave drawings. I’ve just added electricity to them.
Sheen: I think it’s an effort to lead an honest life. I think we’re all looking for identity, for a way to find meaning in our lives. And for me that’s reflected in my faith. My interest in social justice is what’s led to so many arrests. But speaking truth to power is what we’re encouraged to do in the Gospels. It wasn’t always the case, but for the last 30 years, since I became a Catholic, I’ve embraced a voice for the marginalized. And it’s not easy. It’s going to cost you some.
MT: Charlie’s issues aside, as celebrities you’ve both have had to deal with your own fair share of public scrutiny. Have you developed a personal or family philosophy about public scrutiny?
Sheen: We come from a place where it’s always personal. We stand for each other and we’re always there for who is in the most need at the time. Those are the ones we hold the closest. That’s what we’ve always done. We’re a family first. But the public scrutiny is something that can drive you nuts. If I was worried about what anyone thought, outside of the family, I’d be afraid to leave the house. I think you’ve got to have a sense of humor about it. I think you’ve got to know that that’s an image. It’s not who you are. And as long as you don’t get swept up with it — because you’ll be carried away — you have to let it go, let it run its course. It’s like I said, if you’re looking to lead an honest life, you have to unite the will of the spirit to the work of the flesh. [to his producer] You didn’t think I’d slip that in today, did you?
Jeff Meyers writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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