Since Father’s Day has come and gone, I would like to tell you about a unique memoir. Along the Way: The Journey of a Father and Son by Martin Sheen and his son Emilio Estevez tells the story of their lives, their careers in the filmmaking industry, and their relationship. In the 1990’s I saw Martin and Emilio in a TV movie, In the Custody of Strangers, about a teen-ager who drives drunk, hits a police car, and spends six weeks in jail. Emilio played the wayward teen, and Martin played the father who’s tough love created a disaster..
Martin and Emilio take turns narrating Along the Way. Martin talks about growing up in Dayton, Ohio, with a Hispanic father who raised him and his siblings after his mother died when he was eleven. He was born Ramon Estivez but changed his name to Martin Sheen because in the 1960’s, he thought he would have a better chance of finding work if he had an American name. He describes how he met and married his wife Janet in New York and the trials and tribulations of being an actor and raising a family.
He discusses his experiences filming Apocalypse Now and other movies. He was raised a Catholic and explains how he returned to the church after a prolonged absence. He talks about his drinking bout which lasted for about thirty years and how he finally joined Alcoholics Anonymous and learned about the twelve-step program. He explains why he turned down nominations for Academy Awards.
Emilio talks about what it was like to grow up with an actor for a father. Since Martin’s movies were filmed all over the country and abroad, he did a lot of traveling. He wanted to keep his family together so they all moved to different locations where he was filming before finally settling in Malibu, California. As a result, Emilio never stayed in one school throughout an entire year until the tenth grade.
When Emilio talks about his acting experiences in high school, he reminds me of my younger brother Andy who was also active in school theatrical productions. Unlike Andy, Emilio wrote and directed some of the plays in which he acted. When he decided on acting as a career, he considered changing his name the way his father did, but Martin told him he shouldn’t because times had changed and Hispanics were becoming more popular. Emilio agreed not to change his name but wonders if his father discouraged him in order to atone for what he thought was a mistake in changing his own name.
Emilio also talks about his acting, directing, and screen writing career as an adult. He began his career days after high school graduation, starting filming on a television movie. He describes how in the 1980’s, he met Carey, a woman with whom he couldn’t commit to a long-term relationship but with whom he fathered two children. His parents encouraged him to marry Carey, but when it was clear he wouldn’t do the right thing by her, they developed a relationship with their grandchildren, and this compelled Emilio to become more involved in his children’s lives. He describes a road trip he took with the kids in the 1990’s from California to his home in Montana. In 2009, his son Taylor worked with Emilio and Martin on a movie called The Way, which was filmed in Spain and is about a father who takes a pilgrimage along a hiking trail where his son died. This inspired Martin and Emilio to write Along the Way.
Emilio talks about a brief relationship with actress Demi Moore in the 1980’s and his marriage to singer Paula Abdul in the 1990’s. He describes a retreat he attended in the 1990’s with his father and one of his brothers and how the experience affected his relationship with his father. During that time, he also attended a screening of the movie U571, for which my uncle Jon Johnson won an Oscar for best sound effects. I don’t think Emilio met my uncle, but I thought it was cool that he attended the screening. Emilio talks about how during the earlier part of this century, he planted a vineyard in the front yard of his Malibu home and ended up with a vegetable garden, a chicken coop, a bee hive, and Sonja, a woman who is still with him today.
According to Wikipedia, Martin Sheen was born on August 3rd, 1940 in Dayton, Ohio. He is best known for his performances in Badlands, (1973) Apocalypse Now, (1979) Wall Street, (1987) and The Departed. (2006) He is also known for his roles in the Mass Affect trilogy and the television series The West Wing. He won the Best Actor Award in the Sam Sebastian Film Festival for his role in Badlands. His performance in Apocalypse Now earned him a nomination for the BAFT Award for Best Actor. His star has been on the Hollywood Walk of Fame since 1989. In television, he won a Golden Globe Award and two Screen Actors Guild awards for his performance in The West Wing and an Emmy for his guest role in Murphy Brown. He directed one film, Cadence, in 1990. He also directed, produced, and narrated documentary television films during the 1980’s, for which he won two Daytime Emmy Awards. He was also active in liberal politics.
Emilio Estevez was born on May 12th, 1962 in Staten Island, New York. He starred in The Breakfast Club and St. Elmo’s Fire. He is also known for Repo Man, The Mighty Ducks and its sequels, Maximum Overdrive, Bobbi, which he wrote and directed, and his roles in Young Guns and its sequel.
Along the Way: The Journey of a Father and Son was published in 2012 by Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez. It’s available in recorded format from Audible which I recommend since they narrate their own book. I’m sure it’s also available in print, but that wouldn’t be the same as hearing Martin and Emilio tell their stories.
Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author of We Shall Overcome and How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver