Emilio Estevez on Set of Bobby
The Brat Pack may have grown up, but they’re still a little too young to have been politically active in the e’60s. Emilio Estevez chose to write and direct a film about the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy at the Ambassador Hotel. Even though he was a child when Kennedy was alive, the aftermath of his death left an indelible impact on the young Sheen.
Interview: Emilio Estevez Talks Bobby
“I remember my father spent a lot of time on the phone because his best friend lived was here in Los Angeles,” said Estevez. “He was outside of Good Samaritan Hospital in downtown along with the rest of many people waiting news of Bobby's condition. The memories I have of the next day and a half specifically was watching my father speaking long distance which then was somewhat of a luxury and very expensive. He was on the phone most of the day with his best friend and we were getting updates that were beyond what we were getting on the television and he just wept uncontrollably for the next two days. When you're a child you look to your parents for guidance and for reassurance and at that moment on our history, my parents couldn't offer that and I think that is my greatest memory of that period.”
His film focuses on the characters of the Ambassador Hotel, their stories on the day of the assassination. Kennedy is a character in the background of their lives. “As a kid I was heavily influenced by the films of Irwin Allen, if you remember The Towering Inferno and The Poseidon Adventure, and what they used to call yearbook films. Yearbook because of those little tiny box pictures along both sides [of the poster] and down below. And in 1976 I went to Rome, the whole family went, to Cinicetta Studios where my dad participated in one of this yearbook films called The Cassandra Crossing, not a very good film, but I was there for three months and was on the set almost every day. So there I am on this set going, ‘Wow, this is cool, I get to see all these wonderful movie stars.’ So I felt that in the construct of this, in casting as many named people as possible, that no one would be a bigger star than Bobby Kennedy, and because no one really would have the screen time that would be afforded if you were the lead in a film and it was four or five people and you followed those characters, I would depend on their baggage that they carried. I’d depend on their recognition, their recognizability factor, so that the audiences come into the film and they say, ‘Ah, I recognize that person, I’m comfortable with that person,’ and it’s already established, rather than spending half an hour trying to figure out who they are, and determining whether or not you are comfortable with that character or not.”
There was a role for Martin Sheen in the ensemble, but Emilio chose not to pursue his acting brother. “He was in the middle of Two and a Half Men, and I had talked about writing a scene for him, but there was some worry. Even if he had been available, he and I talked about it would have been the first film that my dad, he and I would have been in together, and that may have shifted the focus in a way off of where the focus I feel needed to be.”
Kennedy only appears in the film through historical footage, except for the double playing him in the kitchen of the Ambassador. “Taking a page from William Wyler, and I’m certainly not comparing myself to him, but he did it with Ben-Hur with the Christ figure. He was always shown sort of, the people were looking at him, he’s over the shoulder, he never had the reverse shot on Christ. And I always felt that that was a very effective way of selling an icon. I think that actors have portrayed Bobby beautifully, Steven Culp did a phenomenal job, my dad did it in Missiles of October, Kevin Anderson did it in Hoffa, so I feel like we could have cast an actor to do it, but I felt that Bobby was so iconic and it has a tendency sometimes to take you out of the movie, this felt like the way to go.”
Bobby opens to theatres Tomorrow, November 22nd.
For the poster, trailer, synopsis and more movie info, go to the Bobby Movie Page.
Stay tuned for updates.