'I hated him when he got drunk, because he’d get violent,’ recalls Estevez, who had a combative relationship with his father.'Some of it he may remember, some of it he may not. And because I was the oldest, it was always directed at me.
The erratic behaviour of the male lead – who had brought his children and his wife, the artist Janet Templeton, with him – wasn’t helping matters. The film’s legendary opening sequence in a Saigon hotel room depicts his character, army assassin Capt Benjamin Willard – alone, dangerous and emotional – smashing his fist through a mirror and smearing his face with blood.
Sheen didn’t have to act so much: it was his 36th birthday, and he was very drunk.
But I think the Philippines was the last physical fight we had.
The older I got, I started lifting weights and getting stronger, so Estevez watched his family unravelling as the shoot dragged on.
Which is something I knew about.’ Did he consider any other actor for the lead role? Stop.” That’s the level of his generosity.’ When I asked James Nesbitt for his recollections of the shoot, he suggested that it must have been difficult for Estevez to work with his father, because Sheen would stop and talk to everybody he met on the Camino. After years of being associated with the Brat Pack films of the mid-1980s – he became a generational icon for his roles in The Breakfast Club and St Elmo’s Fire – he has emerged as a successful writer and director, not least with Bobby, his 2006 semi-biographical account of the last day of the assassinated presidential hopeful Robert Kennedy. Initially Estevez wanted his father to play a more pivotal role – the manager of the hotel in which Kennedy was shot.
But at the time Sheen was in the thick of filming The West Wing, so a larger part represented too much commitment. 'So he gave me the smallest part he could that still had some contribution [to the story]. It was great fun.’ Estevez had directed his father once before, in 1996’s The War at Home, about a Vietnam veteran (played by Estevez) struggling to cope with life back in America. How does Sheen think his son’s ability as a filmmaker has changed over the years? 'I came on the set early one day during The War at Home, and he was shooting a scene with Kathy Bates [Sheen’s on-screen wife]…’ Sheen’s voice drops to a grave whisper.Charlie Sheen, Estevez’s younger brother, has been working his flesh overtime of late. Because when you’re addicted, you don’t grow emotionally. You have to have courage.’ As he says this, Sheen, usually so vibrant and engaging, seems to slump inwards.He may have been the highest-paid actor in American TV – he reportedly received as much as million per episode of the sitcom Two and a Half Men – but he is more associated with drug addiction, dalliances with prostitutes, violent marital breakdown and health problems. So when you get clean and sober you’re starting at the moment you started using drugs or alcohol. Beautifully and elegantly shot, The Way is a straightforward and moving tale of the bond between father and son, a reconciliation between the generations.Because with your children, you don’t go, “Hey, my kid is great.”’ Sheen admits he was unaware that among the madness of the Apocalypse Now set his teenage son was forging ideas of his own about a career in film.When they returned to Los Angeles, Estevez co-wrote and starred in a high-school play about Vietnam veterans called Echoes of an Era. I was so interested in myself,’ Sheen says, laughing.For Sheen, making The Way has been particularly gratifying. It’s humanity.’ For Estevez, the film has been a personal experience that extends beyond working with his father.