Friday, June 29, 2018

Emilio Estevez

Emilio Estevez, Toronto, Sept. 14, 2006

THE HARDEST PART OF TAKING PHOTOS OF EMILIO ESTEVEZ WAS NOT TALKING ABOUT REPO MAN. He looked tense - not surprisingly, since making Bobby, the film he was at the festival to promote, would almost bankrupt him. It showed on his face, and in his body language, and it seemed a very bad time to bring up how much I loved his breakthrough role twenty-two years earlier as Otto, the punk who teams up with Harry Dean Stanton to repossess cars.

It was an important film during the listless, halcyon summer just after I'd dropped out of college, alongside Apocalypse Now, which (probably not coincidentally) starred Estevez' father, Martin Sheen. I've lost track of how many times I watched both films that year - often high when I did. When I wasn't watching Estevez and Stanton trade what seemed like classic dialogue ("Look at those people over there. Ordinary fucking assholes. I hate 'em"), I was listening to the soundtrack album, full of L.A. punk and hardcore. I would have loved to have talked about all of this with Estevez, but I could tell in my gut that it really wasn't the right time.

Emilio Estevez, Toronto, Sept. 14, 2006

With all my personal history about Estevez, I'm sure I entered the room with a few ideas of what I'd like him to do, but they all got thrown away as soon as I picked up on my subject's mood - not unfriendly, but definitely nothing like playful or open to suggestion. It was probably for the best - the style I was slowly working towards during my time at the free daily was very stark and formal, and while I would have loved to make at least a few feints in another direction, it felt like the appropriate approach to take with Estevez.

These are not portraits of a relaxed man. I guess that makes them honest, but I certainly didn't have to try hard to capture my subject's mood. While Bobby didn't end up making back its budget, Estevez has continued to write and direct, and recently worked with his father again on The Way, a film about a man dealing with the death of his son (psychoanalyze that in the light of Sheen's relationship with his other son, Charlie Sheen) by walking the Camino de Santiago, the Catholic pilgrimage route through France and Spain. It's not a bad film, with an unfashionably serious view on spiritual redemption, and if I photographed Estevez today, it might have made for a better icebreaker than my drug-addled memories of Repo Man.

1 comment:

  1. I’d have found it hard to resist asking him about Repo Man as well. I saw when it was first in theatres. Lucky me, right? Great film.