“I think I’ve matured to a great extent. I think that I want different things now. that it’s not about the celebrity status that you receive because you’re doing the next hot movie. It’s about doing good work.” A beloved member of the Brat Pack alongside Anthony Michael Hall, Rob Lowe, Demi Moore, Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald and Ally Sheedy, Emilio Estevez had some big shoes to fill in the 1980s as the son of Hollywood legend Martin Sheen. It was his father’s stellar career in film that inspired Estevez to follow in his father’s footsteps and join the world of show business as he made his acting debut in 1979 before going on to become one of the biggest names of the 1980s and 1990s for his work in flicks like The Breakfast Club, St. Elmo’s Fire, The Outsiders and The Mighty Ducks. Now a talented director, screenwriter, and producer, let’s take a look at the 55-year-old’s early career and his incredible knack for working behind the scenes… not to mention his thoughts on his brother, the #winning Charlie Sheen!
While some might argue that Emilio Estevez was born into Hollywood royalty on May 12, 1962 in Staten Island, New York, Estevez says otherwise as the oldest son of actor Martin Sheen and artist Janet Templeton. Spending his early childhood in New York before his father’s career took off and required a move to Hollywood, Estevez and his brother, Charlie, spent their afternoons playing with the family’s portable movie camera as they filmed friends Sean Penn, Chris Penn, Rob Lowe and Chad Lowe. Coincidentally, Estevez wrote and directed the films as his friends acted the scenes out, which is exactly what prompted his dad to take him to the Philippines when he was 14 years old where he joined his father on the set of Apocalypse Now.
“My father and mother, neither of them cared if Larry Fishburne and I jumped into a jitney and went to Manila for the weekend… What were they thinking?” Estevez asked his parents after allowing him to run wild at 14 years old. His parents responded, “We had four of you. If we had to lose one, we would. We were just trying to survive.”
Amid his shenanigans behind the scenes, Estevez had a combative relationship with his father whose alcoholism led to violence. “I hated him when he got drunk, because he’d get violent. Some of it he may remember, some of it he may not. But yeah, it was horrible. And because I was the oldest, it was always directed at me,” Estevez said. Despite his father’s alcoholism, Estevez couldn’t help but be inspired by his father and dreamed of taking the stage himself with the hopes of carrying on the family legacy.
“I remember when I was a boy my father made choices as an actor that were not necessarily career choices,” Estevez said. “He made choices to feed the family. And I was old enough to know that. I had seen him on Broadway, I had seen him playing Hamlet. Even at a young age, I thought, this guy’s amazing. But he would do movies that I felt—and what the hell did I know—were not up to the kind of movies that I wanted to see him in…”
Channeling his inspiration, Estevez returned to California where he co-wrote and starred in his high school play before making his stage debut at a dinner theater in Jupiter, Florida opposite Burt Reynolds. By the 1980s, he found his footing and joined his longtime friend, Rob Lowe, as a greaser in The Outsiders in 1983 and, from there, went on to star in Repo Man, The Breakfast Club and St. Elmo’s Fire. Thanks to his starring roles in popular coming-of-age films, Estevez was dubbed a founding member of the Brat Pack, a nickname coined by New York magazine, alongside costars Anthony Michael Hall, Lowe, Andrew McCarthy, Judd Nelson and Molly Ringwald.
Never a huge fan of being pigeonholed as part of the Brat Pack, Estevez worked to break free of the stereotype with That Was Then, This Is Now, which he co-wrote. He made his directorial debut in Wisdom in 1986 and later teamed up with his brother, Charlie Sheen, in 1990 for Men at Work, which Estevez starred in, wrote and directed. Fortunately, the film was only the beginning of another decade of success for Estevez who snagged a starring role in one of Disney’s most successful franchises, The Mighty Ducks. Reprising his role as Coach Gordon Bombay in three Mighty Ducks sequels, Estevez stayed busy with credits in Loaded Weapon 1, Another Stakeout and The War at Home.
Despite his full schedule in front of the camera throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, Estevez never gave up his dreams of writing and directing, which is why he spent six years writing one of the biggest projects of his career—Bobby, which documented the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy. Although the film boasted a star-studded cast including Ashton Kutcher and Shia LaBeouf, it nearly bankrupted Estevez as it flopped at the box office. However, the seven-minute standing ovation at the Venice Film Festival was enough for Estevez to push forward as he wrote, produced and directed the 2010 film, The Way, which starred his father.
“Dad wanted me to find someone else to play the lead. He said, ‘You ought to go to Michael Douglas. You’re not going to get this movie made with me.’ But I said, ‘I’m only making this movie with you,’” Estevez said of inviting his father on board. “I think it afforded my dad an opportunity to play someone who was, on the one side, not close to who he is, but who is, on the other, very, very close and personal to who he is. And for me, there’s a certain gratification in that he nails the role. It is filled with such quiet dignity. And that’s really who my dad is.”
Beyond working with his dad in The Way and watching his brother’s wild antics unfold for the world to see, the 55-year-old Estevez refuses to let even Charlie get in the way of his passion and career. “We all had the same set of rules,” he said. “My mother doesn’t drink. My brother hasn’t had a drink in over 10 years, my dad hasn’t had a drink in 20. And I make wine.” Making no excuses for Charlie or himself, Estevez seems content to finally tell the stories he wants, the way he wants. After all, he’s waited a lifetime for that chance!