Hollywood actor Emilio Estevez talks to Pierre de Villiers about directing his new film in the Pyrénées and how the Chemin de Saint-Jacques de Compostelle sparked his wanderlust...

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Your film The Way is the story of a father who walks the Chemin de Saint-Jacques de Compostelle after his son dies on the trail. How did you enjoy filming in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port?

We had an incredible time. We just felt really blessed being in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port because a lot of things happened that helped us get the movie made. For instance, the first day we were there it wasn't a scheduled day of shooting and we were just meant to be scouting for locations. We had cameras and film with us though, and for whatever reason I felt the instinct to go up in the mountains and shoot. That was the day we filmed the scenes with the son Daniel getting lost in the fog; something that leads to his death. We didn't have another foggy day after that. There was this eerie feeling that things were meant to be.

I understand the local community really looked after you.

Yes, everybody in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port was very hospitable. You have to realise there were no luxuries while we were making the film. No trailers and not even a director's chair. The actors got their hair and make-up done back at the local hotel so we were really part of the community for a while. I found the Basque people really interesting and welcoming.

Did you have time to explore a bit and tuck into some good local cuisine?

Absolutely. We visited some of the farmers in the area and they invited us to try some of the cheese they produce in the mountains. You have to try it, it's unbelievably good.

As a vintner you must have loved being in France.

It was great. We were just 200 miles from Bordeaux, which is of course well known for its exceptional wine. But in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port there is some extraordinary locally-produced wine.

Did your time working on the film inspire you to do some more travelling yourself, maybe see a bit more of France?

Well, I fantasise about it. I dream about it. In America we don't have a gap year like you have in England, no moment of self-discovery, and I started working right away from a young age. The problem is that I have a very extensive garden at home.

I grow my own pinot noir. I grow a lot of my own food. I have chickens for eggs. It's a living, breathing organism that's producing all the time. We grew buds on the pinot before we left so I'm anxious to get back to see how tall they are. We have 800 vines, and it's like having 800 moody children, all needing our attention. So if I were to go away for a few weeks I would have to forfeit a lot. Having said that, I long to put on a backpack and go.

Walking the Chemin de Saint-Jacques de Compostelle seems like a good way for people to embark on the voyage of self-discovery you mentioned.

I think a lot of people are currently facing up to a struggling job market and wondering what to do. A pilgrimage is a natural outlet. The trail is almost built for modern-day university students who are trying to figure out their lives.

Some of our readers will remember you best from The Breakfast Club. Are you proud to have been a part of such an iconic film?

I've actually been criticised for not participating in reunions for films that I've been in. The thing is, when I got the job it was one of ten auditions I went to that day, including an orange juice commercial and an episode of CHiPs. I just happened to get the job. It was one of three movies I did that year.

So, is having been part of the Brat Pack a bit of burden then?

Probably, yeah. I'm pleased The Breakfast Club has stood the test of time, but for me it is just another movie. I don't want to take the experience away from anyone because people have written to me endlessly about it, and that's great. But even when I'm making a film I am already in the theatre watching it and eating popcorn. I'm looking ahead.

The Way is out next month.

Article by France Magazine France Magazine

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