The reason The Way works is thanks in large part to the real connection between the actor and director. Estevez said he did write the script with his father specifically in mind, but once they were on set, Sheen made the role his own. The collaboration and familiarity between the two hopefully eased the hardships of a shoot on the road. To get an apt picture of what it was like to travel the Camino, the cast and crew traveled nearly the length of Spain with 71-year-old Sheen walking an amazing 3500 kilometers.
After all those miles, however—after all of the tireless filming, and editing, and critiquing and flailing—the actor and director, father-son duo wanted to know only one thing, “So didya want to go on a pilgrimage?” Both Connor’s response and mine was an immediate and enthusiastic, “Yes!” And we aren’t alone.
The movie has already aired in Ireland and England, where it is a big success, and causing a mass exodus of particularly Irish youth to attempt the Camino De Santiago themselves. It’s hard to say exactly what inspires this wanderlust, and what makes The Way work as a film. It could be the actor-director communication, or it could be the fact that The Way is a very different type of road trip movie, a refreshing change of pace from The Green Lantern and Spider-Man 17. More likely, though, is that it is the pilgrimage itself that is so seductive. Clearly both of Sheen and Estevez were affected, both of them ending the interview with a hardy handshake and a bidding of the traditional pilgrim greeting, Buen Camino.
“The Way” opens October 14th in Bay Area theatres.