Martin Sheen and his eldest son, Emilio Estevez, picked a complicated time to promote their film, The Way, the story of a man (Sheen) who embarks on an arduous pilgrimage in order to mourn and better understand his estranged son (Estevez). The former Brat-Pack idol wrote, directed, and co-stars in the film, but the personal story of a father and his son lends itself all too easy to journalists’ questions about that other Sheen, the embattled and increasingly erratic former Two and a Half Men star. Martin Sheen was generally sympathetic to his son’s plight in a recent interview to the London Telegraph, saying, “I know what hell he’s living in. I’ve had psychotic episodes in public. One of them was on camera — the opening scene of Apocalypse Now. So I know what Charlie is going through. And when you do something like that, that is out of control, that’s the most difficult thing. You have to have courage.”
Estevez shared some painful memories from the making of that historically difficult production — in which his father drank heavily and suffered a heart attack. Then only 14 years old, Estevez was practically ignored by his parents during the shoot in the Philippines, running around the dangerous streets of Manila with fellow teenager Laurence Fishburne. “What were they thinking?” Estevez asked his parents after he got older. “We had four of you,” Estevez recalled them saying. “If we had to lose one, we would. We were just trying to survive.”
Sheen the elder believes Charlie is being strangled by addiction, something he can relate to, but he seems resigned that his paternal guidance isn’t always welcome anymore. “Every now and then [it is],” Sheen says. “Depends on whether it’s a moment of clarity for him. I can’t determine that for him. You know, Charlie’s 45 years old. He’s not a kid. Emotionally he still is. Because when you’re addicted, you don’t grow emotionally. So when you get clean and sober you’re starting at the moment you started using drugs or alcohol. You’re emotionally crippled.”
Charlie Sheen frequently mentions his admiration for Apocalypse Now, a great film by all accounts, but is it revealing at all that he chooses to celebrate a chapter of his family’s life that was so volatile?