“It was a challenging shoot from the beginning of it . . . in the Pyrenees all the way to the ocean. But it was filled with miracles and it was filled with gifts.”

One such “miracle” is a scene in which Tom accidentally drops his backpack (containing Daniel’s ashes) into a rushing river. At the time, an almost 70-years old Sheen was game to do his own stunts and have his character rescue the precious cargo himself.

“It was his idea to go into the river in the first place,” reveals Estevez. “So we added that to the script.

“My approach to this was to be as free and as open as possible to the possibility of anything happening, because we were shooting in sequence,” Estevez continues. “It informed not only the characters’ evolution, but all of the filmmakers’ evolution. Because if it rained, well then the next scene we’d all be wet. If Martin pulled a hamstring in the river, then he’d be limping in the next scene. So it was a wonderful luxury being able to shoot in sequence like that.”

“Emilio found a way to make Tom’s journey equally a physical adventure and an inner quest,” shares Sheen. “Tom begins to understand that our whole lives are pilgrimages. He begins to understand that even though we all have to walk our own path alone, you still need others. He begins to understand that he is part of a community; that he has a responsibility to it; and that there is a possibility of great joy and satisfaction in our lives. The beauty of the script is that it gets to all that without ever hitting you over the head with anything.”

Travel Gifts & Souvenirs

Not categorized as Christian film or even an overtly evangelical one, The Way still has much to say as it provokes independent thinking and post-movie discussion about what life should be about for earthbound pilgrims who are not home yet.

“I began to write this script in 2008, and it feels like probably it has more resonance today than it did three years ago,” Estevez says.

“I think that we’ve gotten to a place where ‘more’ and ‘greed’ aren’t necessarily good, and a lot of people have had things stripped away from them—whether it’s their homes, their cars, their jobs. And people are having to deal with living with a lot less. And families are moving in together and sharing meals together again and reconnecting to their faith and reconnecting to their communities. And it’s happening out of necessity, and the film is really a reflection of that.”

While not the first film that Estevez and Sheen have made together (The War at Home, 1996), The Way does represent the end of this road they have walked together these past few years. And while working on the project, both indicate The Way has brought them closer in their relationship as father and son.

“You know, I always remember that for every Badlands or Apocalypse Now [my father] did, he also did a lot of other projects just to feed our family,” reveals Estevez. “So getting the chance to work with him is also an opportunity for me to say: ‘I know you made real sacrifices as a father, and this is my way of paying something back.’”

Adds Sheen, “I don’t know if it would have been possible 5, 10, 15 years ago to be where we are today in order to make [The Way]. I think we had to travel a little further, and I think we did that. We did it together. It was a gift from my son. And I cherish it.”