Born into a screen-savvy family that included Martin and Charlie Sheen and raised among rising stars (including Sean Penn and Rob Lowe), Emilio Estevez was a charter member of the “Brat Pack,” a young crowd of A-list actors that graced the screen in a string of hit films during the ’80s and early ’90s. That early burst of success helped launch Estevez into Hollywood marquee status for years, and for a while, it seemed like pretty much any role he decided to take ended up being part of a hit project — whether he was riding for his life in Young Guns or whipping a motley crew of young hockey players into shape in the Mighty Ducks movies, he had an impressively reliable box office touch. Here’s how it happened, and why we don’t hear about Emilio Estevez anymore.
Although both Charlie and Martin Sheen got their second career winds on the small screen—starring in The West Wing and Two and a Half Men, respectively—Estevez has shied away from television, even at a time when it’s arguably at a golden era for actors of his ilk. Estevez did come in for single-episode guest stints on each of those series, but most of his TV-related work has been behind the lens: he’s directed several episodes of The Guardian, Cold Case, CSI: NY, and Numb3rs.
There’s no doubt that Charlie Sheen has emerged as the most well-known of the Sheen/Estevez children, but these days he’s more infamous than famous. Sheen has very publicly struggled with issues of addiction, relationship woes, and financial crises, and Estevez has said he believes his duty is to provide a healthy lifestyle example for his problem-plagued sibling. He told The Sunday Times (via ABC News) in 2011, “All I can do for Charlie, and I can’t live his life for him, is to try to be an example. But really, I was a pretty poor one. As a kid, I was smart enough to be surreptitious about all my misbehavior, or at least stealthy. But it means that my opinions carry little weight with Charlie.”
In an open letter to fans of his film The Way in 2015, Estevez revealed that he and his family had banded together to support his father Martin Sheen through quadruple bypass surgery. “The decision to operate on his heart was a proactive one, not an emergency situation,” he wrote. “Not surprisingly, he is recovering beautifully, out of the ICU and is expected to not only be home for Christmas, but be 100% by the time he returns to work on season three of the Netflix series Grace and Frankie early next year.”
It’s not the only personal health issue that the family has dealt with. Charlie Sheen revealed that he was diagnosed with HIV the month before, and according to Martin Sheen, the family came together to support the actor’s decision to reveal his struggle with the disease. Estevez had previously partnered with his dad to chair the Cinema Against AIDS event in Toronto in 2010 to raise more than $1 million for organizations supporting research and treatment of patients.