Emilio Estevez gave real-life homeless people jobs in new film The Public

The actor/director has been working on the new movie for 12 years.

Emilio Estevez invited real-life homeless people to appear in his new movie about a group of vagrants who take over a library during a winter storm.

The Breakfast Club actor and his cast, including Alec Baldwin and Michael K. Williams, shot The Public at a Cincinnati, Ohio library from 7pm to 7am and often watched folks who had fallen on hard times leave the premises as they arrived to film.

"We invited a number of them to come and join us and I think they felt empowered," Emilio tells Today. "I said, 'Come and be a part of this. There will be a pay cheque, we're gonna feed you, so their dignity was restored."

The film hits cinemas in North America on Friday (05Apr19), and the actor/director revealed it's appropriate the movie should be released this week - 12 years to the day Estevez first read the essay that inspired the project.

"April 1st, 2007, the L.A. Times arrived at the house, I opened it up and I read this article written by a former Salt Lake City librarian, named Chip Ward, and the essay was about how libraries have become de facto homeless shelters and how librarians have become de facto social workers and now first responders.

"I've watched the elements of the story unfolding in real time."

Estevez tells WENN he almost shot the film in Los Angeles, but he wanted to use a library that could actually be the shelter in a storm for the homeless.

"Originally, the film was set in Los Angeles for two reasons. First, the Los Angeles Public Library’s Central Library, specifically its older section, is an architectural gem... Second, I thought that it would be wildly ironic that Los Angeles would be swept up in a cold snap, given how we are known for our enviably consistent sunny and 72 degree weather," he explains.

"However, in recent years I have been spending time in Cincinnati, where my mother was born, and near Dayton, where my father grew up. During my visits, the director of the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky Film Commission encouraged me to bring film production to the city, citing a generous state tax incentive that could help offset our production budget.

"I followed up and toured the large downtown location of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, and I saw immediately how my film could be relocated to Ohio quite easily with a few minor tweaks. And no temperature drop in Los Angeles can possibly compare with winter cold snaps in the Midwest, which are often lead stories on national news. So Cincinnati became the perfect city to set the story for The Public."

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