What Are You Reading? Emilio Estevez Edition

By Arieh Ress, Adult Librarian
April 5, 2019
Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library (SNFL)
Emilio Estevez and Rhymefest standing next to banners with motivational quotes

Emilio Estevez and Rhymefest; photo courtesy Emilio Estevez

Early in his career, Emilio Estevez and other Brat Pack members found themselves detained in a library in The Breakfast Club, where they begrudgingly learned more about themselves than they perhaps bargained for. Today marks the release of Estevez's new movie The Public, in which the actor (who also wrote and directed) again finds himself locked in a library, this time in a life-saving effort to protect the homeless patrons of a Cincinnati Public Library branch from sub-zero temperatures. 


From The Public, the public might learn more about what it's really like to be a public librarian than they bargained for: the movie has played to enthusiastic crowds of librarians at library conferences over the past year where Estevez was asked ‘how did you get us so right’? 

I reached out to the man behind the movie and asked:    

America: The Farewell Tour book cover

What are you reading and what is up next?

America, the Farewell Tour by Chris Hedges. On deck and next: The Man Who Came Uptown by George Pelecanos.

When your children were little, were there books they wanted read over and over again? 

They often asked me to read E.B. White's Stuart Little. Sometimes, I would finish the last page and they would plead for me to start again from the beginning, and they loved that I still owned the copy my folks gifted me in 1970.

The Power of Myth book cover

You have been writing, directing and acting since your high school days. What three books (or other media) inspired you the most? Do you have a favorite role, or piece of writing or directing from your own career?  

The PBS documentary called The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell and journalist Bill Moyers was a game-changer for me.  After binge-watching the series (in the late 80s, before it was called "binge watching"), I began a deeper dig into Campbell's work and was inspired by The Hero With A Thousand Faces.  

I find it difficult to look back on my career and films, and choose any singular role or film that I would define as my "favorite." There are some performances and pictures that I am proud to have been a part of, but there are others I wish I could remove from my filmography.

The Way DVD cover

I suppose I am fond of my last two efforts: The Way has resonated with audiences all over the world and has inspired tens of thousands of people to travel to Spain to walk the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage since its release in 2011. I am also very proud of The Public, which opens this week.

From what I've seen of The Public, it is clear that you have spent some time in public libraries. A lot of the day-to-day scenes ring true for many of us who work in them. What was your inspiration for the movie? What role have libraries played in your life and is there a branch that you'd like to give a shout-out to? 

First, a shout-out to both the Downtown Central branch of LAPL and the Downtown Cincinnati Library. Both for very obvious reasons. While the film was shot on-location in a working library in Cincinnati, Ohio, The Public was originally inspired by an essay which was printed in the LA Times 12 years ago this week.  
The essay, called Written Off , by an outgoing Salt Lake City librarian named Chip Ward, examined how libraries had become de-facto homeless shelters and how modern-day librarians had become first responders and de-facto social workers. After reading the article, I visited the Central Library Branch in Downtown Los Angeles to see if this was indeed the case.  Of course, this wasn't an isolated issue that was only happening in Utah; the truth of Mr. Ward's piece was evident in Los Angeles and all across the United States.

Emilio Estevez's library card

Emilio Estevez's actual library card!

The Public hits theaters today. If you are interested in what you can do to help libraries help the underserved and at-risk,  or just want to understand the issues libraries face, The Public Library Association has a great list called Resources for Public Libraries Serving Persons Experiencing Homelessness

What celebrities or public figures are you curious about?
Whose book list would you like to read?
Let us know in the comments!