Along the Way: The Journey of a Father and Sonby Martin Sheen
In this remarkable dual memoir, film legend Martin Sheen and accomplished actor/filmmaker Emilio Estevez recount their lives as father and son. In alternating chapters—and in voices that are as eloquent as they are different—they tell stories spanning more than fifty years of family history, and reflect on their journeys into two different kinds of faith.
At twenty-one, still a struggling actor living hand to mouth, Martin and his wife, Janet, welcomed their firstborn, Emilio, an experience of profound joy for the young couple, who soon had three more children: Ramon, Charlie, and Renée. As Martin’s career moved from stage to screen, the family moved from New York City to Malibu, while traveling together to film locations around the world, from Mexico for Catch-22 to Colorado for Badlands to the Philippines for the legendary Apocalypse Now shoot. As the firstborn, Emilio had a special relationship with Martin: They often mirrored each other’s passions and sometimes clashed in their differences. After Martin and Emilio traveled together to India for the movie Gandhi, each felt the beginnings of a spiritual awakening that soon led Martin back to his Catholic roots, and eventually led both men to Spain, from where Martin’s father had emigrated to the United States. Along the famed Camino de Santiago pilgrimage path, Emilio directed Martin in their acclaimed film, The Way, bringing three generations of Estevez men together in the region of Spain where Martin’s father was born, and near where Emilio’s own son had moved to marry and live.
With vivid, behind-the-scenes anecdotes of this multitalented father’s and son’s work with other notable actors and directors, Along the Way is a striking, stirring, funny story—a family saga that readers will recognize as universal in its rebellions and regrets, aspirations and triumphs. Strikingly candid, searchingly honest, this heartfelt portrait reveals two strong-minded, admirable men of many important roles, perhaps the greatest of which are as fathers and sons.
Spirituality — Sheen's Catholicism and Estevez's quest for a personal spirituality, which eventually leads him to farming and planting his own vineyard — is at the heart of the book, as is the nature of family relationships and what it means to at once love another human and allow them to walk their own path. Though Sheen's wife and Estevez's mother Janet is dealt with sparely, it is clear that she has always been — and still is — the glue that holds the family tightly together." LA Times
"It's refreshing to find a dual memoir between a father and son from the same profession that's so honest and cathartic. Veteran actor Martin Sheen and his eldest son, Emilio Estevez, the accomplished actor/filmmaker, reveal eerie, often ironic parallel journeys, both personally and professionally. They've struggled as artists and fathers, and we come away with a deeper understanding of the sacrifices and compromises they've made in balancing craft and family. In many ways, they've actually grown up together during their remarkable relationship. What's so fascinating about Along the Way is this insightful back and forth. Sheen confesses what a horrible father he was during the making of Francis Ford Coppola's legendary Apocalypse Now. He was at his most self-destructive during this Vietnam opus, which eventually led to a near-fatal heart attack. And Estevez admits how much he needed his father's attention when they were on location together in the Philippines. Meanwhile, Estevez relates his own vices on the way to becoming part of the '80s "Brat Pack" generation (a gross misnomer, it turns out). Yet he overcomes his share of obstacles, too, in attaining satisfaction and enlightenment. Both father and son found inspiration in the life of Robert Kennedy, with Estevez writing, directing and co-starring with Sheen in Bobby, an ode to the charismatic and compassionate political figure in the wake of his assassination. ... This cries out for a follow-up." USA Today
"Icons of the silver screen and father/son duo Sheen and Estevez reminisce on their careers, lives, and relationship in this engaging dual memoir. In alternating chapters, each actor describes the difficulties and triumphs of making it in showbiz, as well as the struggles intrinsic to any father/son relationship. The stories hinge on the making of The Way, a new movie directed by Estevez, and featuring Sheen as a father bearing his son's ashes across Spain's 500-mile Camino de Santiago. Sheen remembers his Spanish roots and his resilient immigrant father; Estevez recalls in a vivid picaresque his childhood years spent abroad as his father made movies. In addition to reflections on each man's philosophies, intimacies, and misunderstandings, exciting events abound, as when Sheen eschews a stunt-double and leaps into a frigid river while shooting The Way. While Sheen struggled with a dark, demanding script during filming for Apocalypse Now in the Philippines, Estevezthen a teenagerremembers the night a local tribe "sacrificed a water buffalo by hacking off its head in four brutal blows…It was horrifying and fascinating at the same time, primitive yet reverent, painful to watch but impossible to turn my eyes away from." From fist fighting in a Philippine cabana to spiritual awakenings in India, readers will revel in the exploits of this dynamic and charming duo." Publishers Weekly
"An engaging dual memoir by Sheen and Estevez that explores their lives and their intense relationship. Punctuated with humor and unusual frankness, the emotional highs and lows they share will resonate with fathers and sons.
Sheen and Estevez write as much about family and spiritual matters ... as they do about their work. "Along the Way" offers the promise that our differences don't have to divide us if we keep love, respect and forgiveness in our hearts. That would be a comfort on any journey." Associated Press
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Read an Excerpt
We never get over our fathers, and we’re not required to.
—Old Irish saying
In the summer of 2010 I got a call from my oldest son, Emilio. He was calling from the editing room where he was working on The Way, our film about a father-and-son pilgrimage, written and directed by Emilio, in which I play his father. We’d spent forty days filming in southwest France and northern Spain along the Camino de Santiago, the thousand-year-old, 500-mile route leading to the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela, where the remains of Saint James the Apostle are believed to be interred.
The Camino de Santiago, also known as the Way of Saint James, is a sacred path for Christians and, in recent years, walking its length has become a spiritual endeavor for people of all religions and backgrounds. The Camino ends in Galicia, a region of northern Spain to which four generations of Estevez men are tied. My father, Francisco, was born and raised there and my grandson, Emilio’s son Taylor, lives in Spain with his wife, Julia.
Working with Emilio on The Way was one of the most extraordinary and satisfying projects of my life, and I longed for another father-son adventure with him. And that day Emilio was calling with just such a project.
“Hey, listen,” Emilio said. “Would you be interested in writing a dual memoir?”
“A memoir? You mean a book?”
“Yeah. A father-son memoir. Whatta ya say?”
I was intrigued. To my knowledge no such memoir had ever been published, at least not in our profession. Married couples have written books together, but not a father and son. The possibility began to excite me and I bombarded him with questions.
“Hold on!” he said. “I just want to know if you’re interested.”
“Of course I’m interested,” I assured him. “I’d work with you on anything. Do you have an offer from a publisher?”
“Not exactly, but I have a meeting with a literary agent at my house this weekend. We’re going to have lunch, chat, and see if there are enough reasons to pursue this.” Then he hung up.
I almost called him back to invite myself over for that lunch. After all, Emilio only lives a few hundred yards down the street from me and his mother, Janet. But I restrained myself and waited for him to report back.
That weekend, I sat on my outdoor patio with literary agent Scott Waxman and David Alexanian of Elixir Films, the producer for The Way. We were drinking wine that my partner Sonja and I had made and lunching on vegetables picked just two hours earlier from our backyard microfarm.
“Emil, maybe you should tell Scott about the kind of book you have in mind,” David said.
I chewed on one of my homegrown cucumbers and stalled for time to come up with something pithy and meaningful.
“It’s a father-son story,” I said.
“Yes, that’s what attracted me to it initially,” Waxman said. “So it’s not only about the filming and the experience?”
“Right. It’s about how we got here, as men and as artists. Everyone thinks they already know the story. Truth is most folks don’t know the half of it.”
Scott leaned forward. He was interested in those stories, too, he said.
So, here it is. These are the stories you thought you knew but didn’t. Stories you can’t find through a Google search, scenes that we’ve recreated from our memories, to the best of our abilities. In the course of our dual acting careers, we’ve been involved in more than 250 movies and television shows. It would be impossible to mention them all here, so we’ve highlighted only the ones that had the most impact on our relationship and on our emerging careers. As a result, we had to leave out some notable ones.
We joined forces with Hope Edelman, an accomplished memoirist in her own right, for the writing. Hope tolerated our madness, our impossible schedules, and our considerable distractions. She truly has the patience of Job and listened to our stories, the good ones and the bad, and pulled them together in our own voices. We showed our scars and our triumphs, and sometimes our asses. In many ways, the entire exercise was like a long, drawn-out therapy session with Hope as our trinity—counselor/confessor/writer.
We’ve chosen to be honest, even when it was painful to do so, and even when a scene is less than flattering to one or both of us. We’ve done this in the hope that our story will inspire other fathers and sons to reflect on their journeys together and to inspire them to honor and give thanks for each other, in whatever way they can.
This is our journey on the metaphorical “road,” the camino that all fathers and sons travel in some form or another. Our road sometimes gets a little bumpy, as roads often do. But on this road, nobody gets thrown under the bus while we’re behind the wheel.
Meet the Author
Martin Sheen was born (and still is) Ramon Antonio Gerardo Estevez. Sheen is perhaps best known for his unforgettable performances in Badlands, Apocalypse Now, Wall Street, and as President Josiah Bartlet on television’s The West Wing. A longtime activist for social justice and human rights, he resides in Malibu, California, with Janet, his wife of fifty years.
Emilio Estevez is known for his roles in The Outsiders, The Breakfast Club, St. Elmo’s Fire, and The Mighty Ducks and as writer and director of The War at Home, Bobby, and The Way, films with substantive social subjects. He is coproprietor of Casa Dumetz vineyards in Malibu, with partner Sonja Magdevski, where they live.
Hope Edelman is the author of five prior nonfiction books, including the international bestseller Motherless Daughters. She lives with her husband and two daughters in Topanga Canyon, California.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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I bought this book two days ago and can't put it down. This book is a beautiful insight of a father son duo. Reading this has helped me gain a better understanding of my brother and fathers relationship and even my sons and their father's relationship. I grew up watching Emilio and have so much respect for his work. Martin Sheen is a father/husband that takes his job seriously. I have learned so much about parenthood, marriage, and the relationships of fathers and sons by reading this book. I recommend this book to everyone. Its funny, heart warming, and full of beautiful advice. I have bookmarked pages and saved quotes I will use with my own boys. I will be reading this book again.
What a wonderful and joyous love story! We should all be so lucky as to have this kind of relationship. The alternating between authors makes the read feel like a dialog between the two. Like the reader is sharing an intmacy intended for just the two of them. I became interested in the book because I am a huge fan of Emilio Estavez and even more so of Martin Sheen. But the fact that both father and son are well known and accomplished in their fields actually becomes an aside. The story is of love and respect and celebration for family, heritage and each other. Will this book win a Pulitzer? I doubt it. Will you be glad you read it? I think so.