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TIFF Talk | Martin Sheen: “God forgive me for playing a Republican!”

TIFF Talk | Martin Sheen: "God forgive me for playing a Republican!"

Father and son duo Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez, together at TIFF to spread the word on Estevez’s “The Way,” got personal during a chat with Brian Brooks at the first edition of the ‘Live at the Lounge with indieWIRE’ series. When discussing the experience of collaborating with his son Sheen got visibly emotional. “To work with my son is sacramental, it’s deeply personal. It’s not possible to describe what he means to me. He’s my heart. So there.”

In Estevez’s film, Sheen plays Tom, an American doctor who flies out to St. Jean Pied de Port to collect the remains of his son who was killed in a storm while walking The Camino de Santiago. On a quest to understand his son better, Tom embarks on the historical pilgrimage.

Sheen described his character as being a very conservative type. (“God forgive me for playing a Republican!”) “In essence he becomes his son as he goes on this journey,” Seen said. “Gradually he comes to understand that we can only find ourselves through others.”

It was Sheen who intially approached his son about making a film centered on The Camino, explained Estevez. Seven years ago, Sheen had flown out to Ireland to celebrate his mother’s birthday, followed by a trip to Spain to walk the pilgrimage with Estevez’s son and good friend. “Martin came back from this experience in Spain and said lets do a movie about The Camino,” said Estevez. “Over a series of conversations we figured out what the story was going to be.”

Over the six-week shoot, Estevez said he stepped out of the way and let his father find the character. “I think he gives a performance I had nothing to do with,” Estevez said. “It’s a performance of such quiet dignity.”

Although the film had not had its world premiere at the time of this talk, Sheen became the talk of Toronto early this morning when news got around that he had joined the union workers on strike outside the Fairmont Royal York Hotel, where he and Estevez are both staying. Sheen, a national board member of the Screen Actors Guild, has been in the labor movement as a member for four different unions, and honorary of several others.

“I’m never comfortable unless I’m uncomfortable,” said Sheen, “and I was whole lot more comfortable on the picket line outside than I was inside the hotel.”

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