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You have won numerous awards, including an Academy Award for Born Free. Which accolade fills you with the most pride?
The one I received two years ago, being inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. As a kid, my heroes were people like Cole Porter and Rodgers and Hammerstein. They are incredibly talented, brilliant people. You listen to those songs, and you still get goose bumps. To be in the same club as them is an amazing thing. You don’t expect it. It’s such an elite arena. Without a doubt, to be on a list with those people is amazing.
What is your opinion of the use of music and theme songs in today’s blockbuster films?
One’s always hesitant about criticizing these things because they make so much money. There are some wonderful soundtracks, but they aren’t the melodies or the song that make you say, what a beautiful film. And those kinds of films aren’t being made. I saw a beautiful film last night called Like Crazy, and it’s a love story. But there’s no song in it. If this was 20 years ago, there would have been a wonderful Henry Mancini melody.
When did that start to shift?
I think it started to shift when people went to the artist to get a hit in the film – they go to Lady Gaga or Madonna. It’s not about how wonderful the song is, it’s about how big the singer is.
Do you like talking about your music?
It’s very, very hard to articulate about how you write songs. People want anecdotes, and there aren’t many. I think of Paul McCartney. People ask how he wrote Yesterday, and he says it was a good day in the office. I think that’s it. It’s what you do.
Have you ever been to Sedona?
No, I haven’t. It’s a great name for a song.
Emilio Estevez’s first role was in 1979’s Apocalypse Now, which starred his father Martin Sheen. Though his part was cut from the final film, Emilio went on to star in ’80s cult classics such as The Outsiders, The Breakfast Club, St. Elmo’s Fire and Young Guns. Emilio made his screenwriting debut in 1985, but it wasn’t until 2006 that he really gained acclaim as a filmmaker with Bobby, which won numerous awards. Most recently, Emilio wrote, directed and starred in The Way, which co-stars his father. Emilio spoke to us about his new attention-grabbing film and his former status as president of the Brat Pack.
Sedona Monthly: You wrote, directed, produced and acted in The Way. Tell us how the story came about.
Emilio Estevez: This began in 2003 when my father went to Spain during his hiatus of seasons three and four of The West Wing. My son went with him. Off they went, and they arrived in a town call Burgos. They stayed at a bed-and-breakfast, and they sat down that evening to the pilgrim’s supper. In walks a beautiful girl who took a look at my son. He took a look at her, and they’ve been looking at each other ever since. They got married in 2009, but he’s been there for the last eight years. When my dad came home, he told me my son had something he wanted to tell me, and that was that he was moving to Spain. It knocked me back on my heels. In order to spend more time with my boy, I needed to figure out how to work there. I had a series of conversations with my father about what a film would look like. My dad liked the idea of a story about he and my son on the Camino, and my son falling in love. But I thought the core of the story – the hook – is that it’s a father-son story. If we were going to do a film, I wanted the father in the center, not the boy. It’s about losing a son on the Camino because didn’t that kind of happen to me? So I began to write and create this doctor who isn’t a citizen of the world. Using the template of The Wizard of Oz, I create this emotional tornado in his life with the death of his son. It picks him up from his comfortable lifestyle and deposits him in Spain where he is forced to be a citizen of the world. He meets the Cowardly Lion, the Tin Man and the Scarecrow, and our Emerald City is Santiago de Compostela.