.- Actor Martin Sheen spoke in Washington, D.C. on Oct. 1 about his latest movie, which was filmed entirely along The Way of St. James, a European pilgrimage route that leads to the city of Santiago de Compostela, Spain.
âIf this is the last thing I ever do, I couldnât be happier,â Sheen told his audience at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.
The talk was part of a national tour to promote Sheenâs upcoming film, âThe Way,â which opens Oct. 7.
Sheen stars in âThe Wayâ alongside his son, Emilio Estevez, who directed the film.
âThe Wayâ tells the story of an American doctor who receives news that his son has been killed in Europe while walking the Way of St. James. He decides to finish the pilgrimage in his sonâs place.
âIn the journey, he becomes himself,â Sheen said.
âItâs a story of renewal and healing. Itâs also a story of redemption and faith.â
Sheen explained that as the pilgrimage progresses, the characters are forced to unload the things that burden them, both physically and spiritually.
âThe real pilgrimage starts to take place on the interior,â he said.
âThe pilgrims begin to open up their hearts,â he explained. âThey begin to let go of anger and judgment and envy and all of the things that had kept them from being themselves.â
Sheen said that he has been amazed by âthe number of young people that have been inspired by our film and are interested in making the pilgrimage.â
âThe most rewarding part of the journey that weâre taking across America is really introducing pilgrimage to young people,â he said. âAnd the response has been so tremendous.â
Sheen also gave the audience a brief history of his own spiritual growth. He explained that he was born RamÃ³n EstÃ©vez. When he moved to New York to pursue acting, he found himself faced with racial discrimination and decided that he needed a stage name.
He chose the last name âSheenâ after Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, whom he described as having an âextraordinary presenceâ in his household when he was young.
âI grew up watching him,â Sheen said.
âI thought of him as this magnificent actor,â he explained, recalling the archbishopâs sharp sense of humor.
âHe had this fire in his eyes that was a reflection of his passion.â
Sheen challenged his audience to evaluate their lives in terms of how they can serve those around them.
âWe need a far more realistic understanding of who we are and why weâre here,â he said. âWhether we choose to acknowledge it or not, I believe weâre all responsible for each other.â
âThere remains a very real and mysterious yearning deep within each and every human heart that compels us to reach outside of ourselves and serve others,â Sheen said.
âMy fondest wish for all of you is that you will find something in your life worth fighting for.â