Estevez and Sheen find "The Way" after failed project

Thu Sep 16, 2010 2:50pm EDT
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By Cameron French

TORONTO (Reuters) - Losing funding for a film is any director's nightmare, but the collapse of Emilio Estevez's planned follow-up to his 2006 movie "Bobby" now seems like divine providence to the director.

Becoming a victim of an industry-wide funding crisis freed up Estevez to shoot "The Way", a personal look at a man's spiritual rebirth filmed on a shoestring budget and starring his father, Martin Sheen.

"It was a blessing," the Catholic-raised Estevez told Reuters on the sidelines of the Toronto International Film Festival, where the film premiered this week.

The idea of religious destiny is a thematic fit with the film, which tracks a man's journey along Spain's Camino de Santiago de Compostela -- also known as The Way of St. James -- a 780 km (485 mile) pilgrimage route through northern Spain walked by thousands each year.

"As the financing was falling apart and as I was starting to embrace that, (Sheen) said 'let's go to Spain and make a movie on the Camino'," Estevez said.

"It wasn't something I was jumping at to do... But over time, we sort of figured out what the story would be."

Sheen plays Tom, a lapsed Catholic who makes the journey after his semi-estranged son, played by Estevez in flashbacks, perishes on the trail.

For Sheen, best known for playing President Josiah Bartlet from TV's "The West Wing", walking the Camino had been a lifelong dream, in part because the trail ends in Galicia, the northwest corner of Spain where Sheen's father emigrated from.   Continued...

<p>U.S. director/actor Emilio Estevez (L) and his father, U.S. actor Martin Sheen pose for a portrait to promote the film 'The Way' during the 35th Toronto International Film Festival September 10, 2010. REUTERS/Adrien Veczan</p>