The moment that Emilio Estevez‘s Mighty Ducks character, Gordon Bombay, exited the skating rink in the 3rd Mighty Ducks movie 25 years ago, Estevez followed suit–exiting the mainstream Hollywood acting scene. In the previous the same year Estevez was acclaimed for his appearance on Mission: Impossible‘s opening sequence, playing the role of an IMF technology expert. He dies an unforgiving death within an elevator shaft, while Tom Cruise does his spy slick dressed in the suit.
“It was like, okay, I need to rebrand myself,” Estevez recently said to Vanity Fair, saying that that moment led him to realize that he’d drifted away from what brought him to Hollywood initially. “I did not enter the business to become rich or famous. I entered this industry because I am a film lover.” After the reported $80-million Tom Cruise franchise flick Tom Cruise went independent.
But, now, he’s planning a return to mainstream with The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers, premiering on Disney+ Friday. Prior to the premiere, the actor had a lengthy phone conversation to Vanity Fair reflecting about his career and the false impression that he is the father of Martin Sheen and the brother of Charlie Sheen–is some sort of Hollywood famous. Estevez has never taken his father’s stage surname because He believed that he didn’t been able to earn the title–and lives happy in Cincinnati. In our conversation the actor also spoke candidly about his professional misses–“I’ve performed some forgettable shit as well. …. There’s no way around it”–and the difficulties he faced in re-entry to Disney films after a decade in grim indie films.
Vanity Fair: My friend Laura lives in Cincinnati and often brings you up in conversation as proof of the coolness of the city.
Emilio Estevez: It’s so cool! I am awestruck to say to people who live in L.A. or New York to either come over to see what is happening or avoid. It’s either one or the other. When they arrive they will be blown away by everything happening in Cincy. From the breweries, the restaurants , and the historic preservation of the architectural style. Cincy is a truly beautiful city. I like to call it”the Paris of the Midwest. I didn’t invent it but that’s how I feel about it.
What has brought your back Cincinnati?
My mother was born and raised in Cincy and my dad is from Dayton. My film was currently on nationwide tour for My The Way film The Way; our final stop was Cincy And Kristen Schlotman, who manages the Film Commission, said, “Hey, you should stick around and see what Cincy has to offer.” That’s what I did. The love affair began in the year the year 2010. In the last 10 years the city has increased in size.
There’s an abundance of creativity. You think of the businesses that are headquartered in Cincinnati! You’ve got Kroger…You’ve got Procter & Gamble. You’ve got Cintas. There are many economic motives to have them. Cost of living isn’t just the same as saying, “Oh My God, it’s not expensive!”
It’s come full circle to an degree. Filmmaking on the independent side was a choice. There was no one who put a gun to my head and told me, “You have to do this.” However, it’s extremely expensive, financially speaking and yes. However, emotionally and spiritually, it can be devastating emotionally and spiritually. Particularly if you create an uninspiring film that fails to impress the critics or the attention of the public, which I’ve had both. …. You may find yourself waiting for the people in the theater while they exit your film.
Oh, wait, I have to hear about this story.
I attended the premier of Rated X at Sundance and I was standing at the back of the theater following opening the film. I kept the door open for those leaving. They didn’t realize I was there until they were near me. They weren’t nearly as embarrassing than I was to hold the door open to allow them to go.
Do you recall what they said about the film?
No. I’m guessing I put that off. After a few years, I was attending the Venice Film Festival for Bobby, which was in the competition. And we receive an ovation lasting seven minutes, that was at the time probably the largest standing ovation ever in all the years of the festival. We then go on to win an award called a Golden Globe for best picture. The lows and highs are both so intense.
It’s quite a wild variation.
I was talking to a friend of mine about an experience I had during filming The Breakfast Club in Chicago. A short cult film that I produced known as Repo Man came out in the year 2000, with Siskel and Ebert were on the air discussing what they thought of it. Roger Ebert loved it and Gene Siskel hated it. On air Gene declared, “Well, I’m going to see it a second time because I missed everything you’re talking about, Roger.”
That weekend, I went with Judd Nelson and Anthony Michael Hall to watch Repo Man, and there were about 6 people at the theatre. Gene Siskel sat right behind us. And, I believe that somewhere in the time of the film Gene Siskel got up and went out. He was not going to change his mind.
Did he even know that you were there in the front of him?
He didn’t even know that it was me. I glanced back and saw him in front of us. I told him, “We better laugh really loud at the funny parts.” However, as I said we were unable to influence the guy laughterat me.
Did you know that the wild heights as well as lows was the norm for the course of Hollywood following your dad’s career? Was it something you had to go through by yourself?
My father was a witness to it. through it. It’s true that he would film and be awestruck by the expectation that this would be the film that would change his career and how people viewed his work. Of course, it never was the film you expected it to be.
The movie that you’re not certain will succeed is the one that changes the person you’re talking about. Apocalypse Now was the film that almost killed him. It’s also the one that will be remembered by him the most. Martin Sheen has talked about his struggles with alcoholism that arguably culminated during Francis Ford Coppola’s notoriously demanding film production.
Do you reflect at a specific project and wonder, “Why did I do that?”
Oh, God, yeah. I’m not talking in class because Stephen King knows that it’s a horrible film However, Stephen King often discusses his only directed experience on the film Maximum Overdrive, which I was a part of. The times I’ve had a conversation with him over time, he’s always asking, “Can you forgive me for that?”
I’m sure at one time my mom would say, “Why’d you do that movie?” I replied, “I wanted to work with Stephen King.” Then she asked, “Couldn’t you have helped him paint his house?”
Are there any roles you’ve not taken advantage of that haunt you?
Everyone actor can tell you that yes, …[butthe majority of it’s chance and luck. You know, when you’re an actor in your early years it’s hard to comprehend that you’ve probably already made an offer made to someone and they’re waiting for the actor to decide whether or not he wants to accept it. As an example I was an auditioned actor in the show the show Sixteen Candles.
I was a disaster at the audition. I’m talking about, I thought I wow John Hughes and wowed the audience. Everyone was laughing. I was on the right track. I was scurrying across the hall at Universal Studios after I got home and was thinking, Oh I’m going in this film. The casting director came out and said, “Hey, listen, you’re a man! “
It was one of those heartbreaking moments in which he simply places his arm on my shoulder, and says, “Look, Emil, this ain’t going to happen.” I’m thinking, “What do you mean? I did the idea!” He’s like, “Yeah. It’s never going to occur.”
What role were trying to get?
Michael Schoeffling‘s role. He played Michael Schoeffling’s character. Schoeffling was Molly Ringwald‘s love lover, Jake Ryan.The handsome, sexy man with his jawline is chiseled. When you watch the film it’s logical I didn’t like the characterI didn’t get the part. I’m more of a ham and egg. I’m scrappy. I’ve never been that kind of person.
Hollywood has seen a major shift since the #MeToo movement and the time is Up. The public has begun to revisit John Hughes movies especially and looking at them through a different lens, with Molly Ringwald and Ally Sheedy talking about the plot points of the Brat Pack films that they were unhappy with. Are you considering going back to these films with a fresh lens?
If I don’t need to watch my films I don’t. Do you know what I’m talking about? I’m aware that Molly was quite vocal when looking at Breakfast Club. I believe that every work of art, no matter if it’s music, film or artwork, has been a product from its time. It’s kept in amber if you like. Therefore is it possible to smash amber and then inquire, “What were we thinking?” The thing is, what we thought at that time, was not doubted. That’s why I believe it’s best to look at it another way. It’s not so much about the film but more on the brains behind the creation of these films and what they thinking.
As one who has been working in Hollywood for many years Have you found it interesting to see the whole process unfold in and throughout this industry?
Of of course. Most folks give dad less praise than he merits for how I view the world. My outlook on the world was formed by my mother more rather than through my dad. She has been a role model for my work as a filmmaker as well as a writer, the importance of female characters with strong personalities. She’ll speak off the cuff , which often are used as dialogue in my films.
As an example There’s a scene from Bobby in which Sharon Stone is doing Demi Moore‘s hair. Demi’s character has been drinking and Sharon is a fan and she’s working on her hair. There’s this moment where Demi speaks about her age. She states, “I wake up one morning and think when did I get that flat ass?” This is an expression my mother used to make.
Let me know a more about your mother and her character.
She came from Cincinnati with a single mother in a home that was for women who were not married. Her mother was a bit of a hell-raiser , and was not keen on being a mother and so she took her cross-border into Kentucky and took her to her grandmother’s house and then said, “You raise her.” It was true to the point that my mom was 6 years old. Then , her mother came in and told her, “Okay, Janet, you’re coming with me now.” My mom was like, “Who the hell are you?” In the remaining 70 years, shedid not call her mother.
In the majority of independent films I’ve created whether it’s The Public or Bobby and the Public, there is common trauma that characters experience and suffer from, whether it’s from a previous generation, or it’s an experience of trauma from childhood or if it’s a trauma that’s caused by racism, homelessness and any of those and addiction. Trauma is a large aspect of my life. And I believe my mom’s experiences have influenced the way I think about it.
It’s quite distinct to that of the Hollywood royalty you’re presented as.
There is no way to walk on the earth in peace. There is no way to walk on the earth without a degree of pain. It’s about how ready you are to accept the fact that you have it. For me, this idea of Hollywood royalty…I’ve had the privilege to be in a room during several gatherings in which my father as well as Al Pacino talk about their lives in the same way, trying to make it to make it in New York as young hungry actors. It’s amazing to think that the two actors have been able to get to this point in which we’ve all believed they’ve always been.
There’s no doubt that there’s a certain privilege that I’ve enjoyed since my dad is the man he is and was the one who did the work, and relocated us all the way to California. I’m grateful for all this. However, I don’t like the Hollywood royal aspect because I’ve never felt being royalty. My father would always say, “This is a job you’ve picked. There was no one who had a gun on their head. Make sure you do it right and then move onto the next.”