Back in 2000, Emilio Estevez was at a photo shoot in L.A.’s long-vacant Ambassador Hotel when lightning struck. ”I said, ‘My God! Why hasn’t anybody done the Bobby story?”’ recalls the writer-director, who, as a child, had actually met Robert F. Kennedy. So he set to work crafting an ”Altman-esque” multicharacter drama about the sundry folks who resided in the Ambassador the fateful night Sirhan Sirhan shot Kennedy in 1968. ”These are people who essentially all have seats on the Titanic and they don’t know it.”
Five years later, Estevez emerged with a script that landed him a powerhouse cast — also including Sharon Stone, Helen Hunt, Heather Graham, William H. Macy, and Harry Belafonte — and a $10 million independently financed budget. All of which was nearly jeopardized when the Ambassador was finally demolished in 2005 — thanks to the lobbying of none other than the filmmaker’s dad, Martin Sheen, who helped lead a movement to build a school on the lot. ”They were tearing the building down around us,” Estevez says, noting that he beat the wrecking ball by days. No hard feelings, though: He still cast his pop in a small role.