Emilio Estevez believes in miracles, and he thinks you should, too.
“Every moment of this experience has been an absolute miracle,” a very tanned and cheerful Estevez said on Wednesday night at the premiere of his film “The Way” at the School of Visual Arts theater in Chelsea. The premiere was held in conjunction with the Walkabout Foundation, a nonprofit that focuses on finding a cure for paralysis and donates wheelchairs to people in need all over the world. “The Way” follows a grieving father who walks the Camino de Santiago, or “The Way of Saint James,” a pilgrimage across the north of Spain that has been traversed since the ninth century.
“We don’t do that in this culture,” Estevez said, on the concept of pilgrimage. “Americans aren’t dialed in the same way that Europeans are. We’re interested in more, better, faster rather than slowing down, smelling the roses, planting a seed. There is a movement to return to that, to unplug a bit, it’s just taking a long time. Hopefully we’ll see it. I think we’re going to spawn a generation that’s going to value it.”
While flying to Madrid for the Spanish premiere of the film last October, Estevez was introduced to Rolando Gonzalez-Bunster, who is on the board of the William J. Clinton Foundation as well as the father of Walkabout Foundation founders Carolina and Luis Gonzalez-Bunster. The former president, whose own charity works closely with Walkabout, was on hand at the screening and spoke after the film about the importance of the cause.
“You know, I don’t believe in coincidence,” Estevez mused. “I believe that there are things that happen for a reason and that you are in the place where you are when they happen for a reason. And you meet people in that moment for a reason. And I was on that plane last October to meet Rolando and to create this event tonight. It’s been truly miraculous.”
The actor’s speech was peppered with a very impressive Spanish accent.
“I sound native, I know,” he said. “My son lives in Spain, he met a girl on the Camino de Santiago, he met a girl and he married her. And my grandfather’s from Spain, from near Galicia. So I felt that I needed to create a project that honored my grandfather and celebrated my son, and took my father back to his homeland and celebrated his roots. My father never changed his name, but he works under ‘Martin Sheen’ rather than Ramon Estevez, which is his real name.…I wrote the film for my father. I live very close to my parents, literally. If you’re a good golfer, it’s about a No. 1 wood. They are my best friends — I’m a mama’s boy, I call her every day. I don’t care, we’re very close.”