What do you say to an actor you’re about to interview that you grew up watching in the movies. Well, if you’re me, you vomit out as many words about how much they impacted your youth as you can.
Multi-hyphenate Emilio Estevez has written and directed seven original films (one which was nominated for two Golden Globes — BOBBY). His latest, THE PUBLIC, happens to be right in my wheelhouse — the library (more on that in the interview).
Naturally, having my Ph.D. in Emilio Estevez Cinema and one month shy of my Master’s in Library Science, I jumped at the opportunity to interview him about the movie. I didn’t get to ask all the burning questions I had written down, but we did have a great conversation. Estevez is a humble filmmaker who clearly cares for subjects he writes about.
The headline hits the major things we discuss, but something important to me was our quick chat about my sobriety and future, and he had encouraging words for me. All smiles in Chase Whale, USA.
I’ve given you the option to read the interview or listen. I recommend listening because that’s where you can feel the natural flow of the conversation, but it’s up to you, dear reader. I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I did conducting it. Estevez is pure joy.
THE PUBLIC opens in theaters on April 5th. See it!
Chase Whale: Hello Emilio!
Emilio Estevez: Good morning, afternoon.
CW: How are you?
EE: I'm doing very well, thank you. How are you today?
CW: I'm doing well. Ok, let's go ahead and get this started. I wanted to start out and say when I was a younger and had to missed school, I always watched Young Guns II as well as the first [one], Repo Man, The Breakfast Club, Maximum Overdrive, Loaded Weapon 1, and Men at Work. I wrote about you in my late dad’s tribute because we watched The Mighty Ducks franchise a lot together. I even wrote a paper on Billy the Kid because of how you iconically portrayed him in the Young Guns franchise. It’s pretty safe to say I have a Ph.D. in Emilio Estevez Cinema. Sorry, I had to get that out there.
EE: (laughs) Sorry about that.
CW: (laughs) Don't be.
Emilio Estevez: I apologize for the bad ones. There's been a few of them.
CW: No. You blessed my youth. So thank you.
EE: Depending on how you look at it.
CW: Man I have to say I couldn't have seen THE PUBLIC at a more perfect time. I feel like I'm living [Emilio Estevez’s character] Stuart Goodson's life. A former drunk turned librarian. But I actually work in archives [versus as a librarian].
EE: You're working on getting your MLS right now?
CW: Yes. one month away.
EE: So cool.
CW: Yeah, yeah.
EE: So cool.
CW: Yeah I just hit 90 days sobriety following my dads unexpected death. School has helped a lot. Working on school I'll have my Master’s in Library and Information Science in one month. You actually came to the library to screen the movie that I interned at in Fort Worth, Texas. I wasn't there but that was pretty cool.
Let’s talk about your latest film which you wrote, directed, and star in, THE PUBLIC. First question, what encouraged you to make a film surrounding understanding the library system? While more importantly, covering the homeless and how the library isn't just a safe haven for them during business hours but they are welcome to come and enjoy everything the library has to offer. Just like a regular patron [fancy library term for “customer.”].
EE: Well I approached writing a script starting the research. Especially if its something that is either socially relevant or has some measure of historical relevance to it. So I did the bulk of my research for Bobby, the film that we shot in 2005. At the down town L.A Public Library because at the time most of the information that I needed was not available, had not been transferred to digitally yet. So all of that was on microfiche so I found myself at the library for many months. Just scouring through and doing the research through using microfiche. Yet the stories of the week leading up to RFKs assassination, and then what happened afterwards. So combing through all of that intel. I spent a lot of time at the library.
The movie was released it did what it did in terms of box office and award stuff. It ended up being a really interesting experience. I was looking for a follow up movie, and a follow up story. This article appeared to me L.A Times on April 1st, 2007. And it was about it was written by Chip Ward who is a Salt Lake City librarian. It talked about how he was going to retire but in leaving the library he felt he had to talk about how libraries have become defacto homeless shelters. And how librarians have become defacto social workers and first responders. It wasn't just isolated to Salt Lake City this was in fact an epidemic that was happening across the country. So I was really moved by the piece and thought “ well I'm going to go back to my public library down town and see if this is the case”. I just started hanging out and observing and [decided] the story would look like if it were a particular cold night and patrons were essentially using it as a day time shelter. Decided to use it as a night time shelter.
Emilio Estevez: How Law enforcement would react and how the media would spin it. To help local politicians who might change the narrative to suit their own agendas. Again we think about where we are right now, this is back in 2007 before we have arrived at the place where all the issues and the themes of the movie are now too common place.
EE: Now I'm not saying that I'm pressing it in any way I'm just saying that there was, this movie is really relevant now and perhaps more relevant than had we made it ten years ago.
CW: Yeah I agree. The story's underlying theme revolves around the homeless and mental illness. But its not too heavy handed and -
CW: You give the message that not every homeless person is mentally ill. And how -
Emilio Estevez: That's right.
CW: And not all who are mentally ill are dangerous. Which I applaud you so much for this grand achievement. Because I've had to explain that to a lot of people.
EE: There's a lot of humor. There's a lot of -
EE: When you start to talk to individuals, once you get past their distrust, you get past that and you start talking about, how they've arrived at this place, the stories are heart breaking but some of them are also really funny.
CW: Yeah you did a very great job of dealing with very serious issues well. Peppering humor throughout the film. So I mean there was great work.
EE: Well I feel the humor was important to humanize the characters.
Chase Whale: Absolutely.
EE: Because again we're all, nobody wants to live pain free or trauma free. We all carry a certain amount of trauma with us. It's really a matter of degrees and how people deal with it. How they're coping with it. Each one of these characters including Stuart and Ramstead the police officer they're carrying a certain amount of trauma as well.
[Editor’s Note: Here, we ran out of time and I had room for one more question.]
CW: I'm going to just skip down to my last question, which I've always wanted to ask. So, you have an iconic signature laugh. The juxtaposition with it and the film’s violence in both Young Guns makes me laugh every time. Did you create it for this franchise or is it your natural laugh?
EE: That's my natural laugh, that's the real deal. When something strikes me funny, it’s how I react.
CW: Awesome. Love it. I appreciate your time and great work on the film.
EE: Best of luck with you too. On your MLS and -
CW: I appreciate that.
EE: Blessings on your sobriety and that's such a giant step. You're 90 days today?
CW: Uh 93. [Editor’s Note: It was actually 95!]
EE: 93, far out man. Keep at it, it works.
CW: Thank you so much. I appreciate it. You have a wonderful day Emilio.
EE: Thanks you too man, I appreciate it. Bye