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Directing dad a profound task for Estevez

Emilio Estevez advises MartSheen set “The Way.” He admits he also considered Michael Douglas Mel Gibsfor role.

Emilio Estevez advises Martin Sheen on the set of “The Way.” He admits he also considered Michael Douglas and Mel Gibson for the role.

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Updated: November 11, 2011 1:24PM

Emilio Estevez directed his father in 1996’s “The War at Home” and in 2006’s “Bobby.”

But nothing was as profound as directing Martin Sheen in “The Way,” where he portrays a father whose son has died.

“You can’t separate any part of yourself from the whole,” Sheen explains. “You bring your past and your present to whatever you’re doing. We’ve brought our whole history together.” Sheen nods towards Estevez and says, “He had crafted this thing for me very specifically.

“The greatest anxiety for me was that I wouldn’t fulfill it.”

But Estevez admits that Michael Douglas and Mel Gibson were considered for Sheen’s role.

“We talked about it,” he says.

Sheen tells his son, “Imagine when Kirk Douglas was told by Michael that he wasn’t going to star in ‘Cuckoo’s Nest’ after he originated the role. He loved the part. Kirk never got over it.”

The 1964 Broadway production of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” starred Douglas as the renegade patient McMurphy. Kirk Douglas retained the film rights but was unable to connect with a studio. He finally gave the rights to his son — who gave the part to Jack Nicholson, because it was assumed his father was too old for the role.

“Emilio was not going to do the film without me,” Sheen declares.

Estevez says, “[Douglas and Gibson] come with an entourage and all the perks. Their perks alone would have been more than the cost of our film. And the distraction. And the fact it was authentic. We were going back to [the Estevez homeland] in Spain. We could not have gotten that with anyone else.”

The bus falls quiet.

Sheen says, “I’m a gusher. I go to broken places when I get the license. So I’m in the worst pain a parent can experience, the loss of child. And I had to portray that. I reined it so it was not pathetic. Not sentimental. It was a guy who was stoic, who never revealed how he felt. If he had, he never would have been estranged from his son in the first place. ...

“We knew it was not a Hollywood-type film. That’s why we were doing it. We come from California. Not Hollywood. We’re family. We support each other’s dreams. And we always have. This project was a responsibility. No one had ever done it — not even in Spain. We weren’t disappointed we couldn’t get any interest with financing. In a sense we were going back to our roots. Nobody else could go there.”

“Bobby” was an entirely different experience for Estevez.

“There were a lot of personalities to juggle every day,” Estevez explains. “Everybody in Hollywood was in that [Laurence Fishburne, Helen Hunt, Lindsay Lohan]. It was a tough movie. It was all interior and dialogue driven. This is more of a mood piece, 90 percent of the film is exterior. Four characters to keep track of. It was more manageable.”Ó

Dave Hoekstra

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