“The Way” finds Martin Sheen walking back into a leading film role, which is one of the most personal performances of his career. It was written and directed by his son, Emilio Estevez, and is set on the Spanish pilgrimage trail ‘Camino de Santiago,’ near where Martin’s father was born and raised.
Sheen says that his son was insistent, “the film would never get done without me, it was his gift for me.” However, as a father, he couldn’t help but worry about disappointing his son. “The only anxiety I had was that I would not come up to his expectations.” He thinks their joint effort was, “a deeply personal relationship being explored on film … it was a reflection of our relationship and basically a gift we gave to each other.”
Early in his film career, Sheen gave iconic leading performances in Terrence Malick’s “Badlands” and Francis Ford Coppola’s “Apocalypse Now.” Since then, he has delivered supporting turns in Best Picture champs “Gandhi” and “The Departed.” Yet, he has never been nominated for an Oscar.
As he explains, “I didn’t feel comfortable competing for them … So I withdrew several times.” However he has since, “had a change of heart because I realised that if you get involved with the awards process you can draw attention to the film, hence you can extend the longevity of the film.” Despite a practically nonexistent advertising budget, “The Way” has grossed more than $3.5 million at the box office. It has scored a solid 80 at Rotten Tomatoes.
Sheen also reflected on his six Emmy losses for his leading role as the President on the drama series “The West Wing.” He recalls what it was like to be seemingly the only person on the show not to win an Emmy. “It got to be a joke around the set, every now and then the lads would come in with their Emmys and just, very subtly, sit them on the set somewhere where I couldn’t help but see them, and I had nothing to replace them with so I would just throw a shoe at them.”