The reason Emilio Estevez didn’t make a fifth movie in Minnesota, he said, is because the state is not offering the right kind of tantalizing tax credits.
Estevez was at Minneapolis’ Central Library for a screening Sunday of “The Public,” a movie he wrote and directed about the homeless taking over a Cincinnati library. He also appears in the movie, along with: Alec Baldwin, Jena Malone, Taylor Schilling, Christian Slater, Rhymefest, Gabrielle Union, Jacob Vargas, Michael Kenneth Williams, Jeffrey Wright, Ki Hong Lee, Patrick Hume, Richard T. Jones, Susanna Thompson, Spencer Garrett, Michael Douglas Hall, Bryant Bentley, Nik Pajic and Jared Earland.
“I’ve been on this mission to get this movie made” for nearly a decade, Estevez told me after doing a Q&A for the sold-out audience. “It’s not been easy.”
He knows this part of the country well, having shot four movies here: three from “The Mighty Ducks” franchise and “That Was Then, This Is Now.”
Q: What drew you to this movie project?
A: There was an article — written by a Salt Lake City librarian, 12 years ago next month — in the L.A. Times about how libraries have become de facto homeless shelters and librarians have become de facto social workers and quick responders.
When you start going around and talking to film executives and studios about the movie you want to make next and say it’s going to take place in a library and it’s going to deal with homelessness issues and mental health care issues, it’s not a movie that presses the blockbuster button. The work that I had cut out for me was to make it entertaining, funny, human and accessible to an audience. The reaction is that we made a very entertaining movie and we’ve also attacked some of the issues.
Q: This is a very beautiful library. Why didn’t you make the movie in Minnesota?
A: Ohio gives us this amazing tax incentive to shoot there. It was like 30 percent of our budget. The state of Ohio is essentially a partner with us to make the film ... [Minnesota’s so-called Snowbate rebates up to 20 percent of filmmaking expenses spent in the local economy.] I’m no stranger to working here, and I certainly love it here.
Q: This is the first time you’ve had a sold-out free screening?
A: Libraries, I think, get it now. We didn’t stereotype librarians. I think little by little they are now embracing the movie.
Q: How much of your own skating did you do in “The Mighty Ducks”?
A: How dare you. [Laughter] I never skated before the film. Of course, I had to tell the director and producer, “Yeah, I’ve spent my whole life on skates.” And I was just sweating. In fact, the day that I got the role I found a rink in L.A. — which is hard to do. I found this guy and begged him: “I’ve got this job. I’m with a bunch of kids. I can’t look like a clown. You’ve got to teach me how to skate.” So I spent the next three weeks learning at least not to fall down; we came here to Minneapolis and got into a skating camp. So I didn’t answer your question. Anytime you see it’s me on the ice and I’m skating, it’s me. Anytime the camera is far away, it’s somebody else.
Q: Sometimes I’m being sarcastic. Do you like sarcasm?
A: I love irony, I love sarcasm. I don’t like it for the sake of it. I appreciate a good sarcastic joke. I think that sometimes clever passes for smart. I’m always leaning into the smart when I can.
Q: Have you and your brother Charlie Sheen ever competed for roles?
A: Of course. Oh, yeah. He wanted this one. [This probably was sarcasm.] My dad wanted this one.
Q: Have you been tempted to grease any palms to get kids in college?
A: What? My kids are grown. [Grandkids,] I’ve got one on the way. That’s not something I would even consider. I didn’t go to college.
Q: Comedy or drama? Which one is more difficult for you?
A: With drama, there are a lot of different ways to play a scene. With comedy it’s either funny or it’s not. Comedy can kill you if you don’t do it right. It’s great to see the jokes in this movie land with audiences. It’s great to see they got my sense of humor as a writer and filmmaker. I’ve felt it the other way, too.
C.J. can be reached at email@example.com and seen on Fox 9’s “Buzz.” E-mailers, please state a subject; “Hello” does not count.