Faith, Media & Culture

Here’s today’s dispatch from the crossroads of faith, media and culture.

Emilio Estevez keeps it positive. I recently had my second my second opportunity to engage in a conversation with Emilio Estevez, this time on the occasion of the Blu-ray/DVD release tomorrow (Feb. 21) of his recent faith-themed film The Way. (BTW: The first three readers to contact me at will receive a free DVD copy of the film.)

Estevez  wrote, produced, directed and acted in the movie which stars his father, Martin Sheen, as an America doctor who learns that his son was killed while embarking on the historical pilgrimage through the Pyrenees known as “The Way of St. James.”  The doctor soon finds himself deciding to complete the journey himself and, in the process, finds that there’s more to life and people than he previously spent much time thinking about.

If you’ve read my review, you know I love this movie.  Man, if only the rest of Hollywood would take its cue from this guy.  Checkout the trailer below.  Our conversation is below that.

JWK: Are you happy with the audience reception of the film?

EMILIO ESTEVEZ: Yeah, the audience reception has been amazing. I think I mentioned when we met in New York about how the reaction has been across the country.  We kinda did a promo tour that would be more in line with a bigger studio release. Literally, we were everywhere…I will say that (through) the feedback of some of the folks on Facebook and Twitter  and even email coming into the website, (we know that) people were driving two and three hours, actually making pilgrimage to get to the theaters to see it.  But you’ve got to make it available for people to see and not everyone’s gonna be as willing or as brave to want to get in the car for two hours to see a film.

JWK: Which is why it’s great it’s out on DVD. Regarding the movie’s limited release in theaters, do you find that distribution for these kinds of films is a problem? If it had wider theater distribution, it might have even done more business.

EMILIO ESTEVEZ:  I think it would have for sure. Based on the feedback and based on the exit polls which we did, it was all very, very positive. The numbers were very, very strong. You know, it’s interesting. Hollywood  likes to hold itself out as being proudly secular and I think there are a lot of people in this town that were scared of the film. They saw it as Martin and I delivering a message or that it was Catholic dogma when, in fact, the movie is not that at all.  You’ve seen it. You know.

 JWK: No, it’s a good character-based story. There’s nothing preachy about it.

EMILIO ESTEVEZ:  No…If anything it’s a spiritual journey and that’s a thing that people in Hollywood could probably use a little bit more of.

JWK: I wrote in my review that I thought the film deserved Oscar consideration.  Unfortunately, I don’t think it received any nods.

EMILIO ESTEVEZ:  No, no. Unfortunately, that’s a rich man’s game. As one of our producer’s mentioned, he said it’s sort of like playing polo. To play on that field costs a lot of money.  You have to buy the awareness. You have to have a performance or a product where there’s mass agreement that this should be one of the finalists. We were in consideration but we didn’t make the cut.

JWK: Do you think there’s a certain fear of the subject matter in Hollywood?

EMILIO ESTEVEZ:  I think so. I think this movie is not a film that the executives in Hollywood would have made.  Even my own agents when I was pitching the story to them, you could watch their eyes glaze over.  You just didn’t get them excited about it because it wasn’t geared toward 16-year-old boys. There weren’t any explosions, or  sex or violence. There were none of the norms.  I really believe that people are starved for  something better. There is a very under-served demographic out there that WILL go to the movies or rent a DVD if there’s product out there.

JWK: You’ve said in other interviews that you’re kind of embarrassed by some of the things Hollywood puts out into the culture.  Have those comments gotten you into any trouble within the industry?

EMILIO ESTEVEZ:  I don’t know. I mean I don’t  really hang around with or hang out with industry types.  I’m on my journey, my path and I’ve declared myself in terms of the kind of work that I want to do and the films that I want to be responsible for putting out there in the universe and I think that it’s very clear what I will say no to and say yes to and whether that’s hurt me or not, I don’t know.  I don’t really care, frankly.

JWK: What films personally inspire you?

EMILIO ESTEVEZ:  Well, you know, films that are about people, films that are about relationships. When you think about, you know, a lot of the great films that came out of the seventies were character-driven films, were films where story came first.  So, you know, we just haven’t seen enough of them in recent years.

JWK:  What’s next for you?

EMILIO ESTEVEZ:  I’m working on a couple of things. First, Martin and I are writing a book that is going to be released through Simon & Schuster. The street date on that is May 8th. It’s called Along the Way and we literally are just putting the final touches on it as we speak.  As you and I are speaking now, Martin’s working on the foreword and everything is getting sent out to the publisher. We’ll be in New York for a press tour I think that week, the week of May 7th. It’s less about the film and it’s really more about our journeys, both as actors, as men  and the spiritual journey that both of us are on that has gotten us to this place

JWK: I take it your father has been a big inspiration for you in your life.

EMILIO ESTEVEZ:  Oh, for sure he has. I’ve been so fortunate to be at this age in life and to have him still in my life, he and my mother both. And the fact that they’re together now 50 years , they’ve put down some pretty enormous footprints and I just try on a daily basis to honor that and try to stay in step as much as possible.

JWK:  Do you anticipate working together with your father again?

EMILIO ESTEVEZ:  Not in the near future.  I’m working on creating another family film franchise. It’s really more in the vein of The Mighty Ducks. It’s set in the world of competitive harness racing…The idea is to reconnect to that Mighty Ducks audience.

JWK: Any television in your future?

EMILIO ESTEVEZ:  You know, I don’t rule it out but it’s not something that I’m currently looking at.  It’s just not something that I’ve gotten into. My dad obviously had a great run with The West Wing and Charlie, of course, had a great run with Two and a Half (Men) and he ‘s going back to TV but my work has almost been completely confined to film with the exception of directing a couple of TV shows and that was a great learning experience for me but TV is not where my focus is right now.

Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

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