It can be difficult to process the unexpected successes of life, but Greg Sestero has done that with one particularly extreme case. As the lead actor of The Room, the cult so-bad-it’s-good film, Greg wrote about his experiences in the book The Disaster Artist, which proved that the behind-the-scenes details seem just as strange as the movie itself, particularly his friendship with The Room’s writer-director Tommy Wiseau. With The Disaster Artist out now in cinemas, DAVID MORGAN-BROWN spoke to Sestero about the film that launched a thousand spoons.
“It’s helped me understand a lot, humanise a lot of aspects of Tommy I didn’t understand,” Sestero claims about the development of his book about a movie into a movie itself. “It’s definitely been a redeeming experience.”
Tommy’s mysterious persona and inept workmanship on the movie’s set convinced everyone the film would hardly ever be seen, but they were clearly mistaken. “I thought of all the films being made, I thought this had the least chance to succeed just because it had nothing going for it at the time, except for a very strange man who wanted to become the next Marlon Brando and paid to make his own film,” Sestero says. “I think it’s the most improbable, unlikely success story in the history of film.”
Although Sestero claims he and Tommy were like cousins – “distant cousins”— their on-screen duo is played by James Franco (Tommy) and his younger actor brother Dave (Greg), whose real-life brotherly bond help bring to life this fractured, yet unexpectedly and uniquely enduring relationship.
“There’s an epigraph in the book for chapter six that is from The Talented Mr Ripley that says ‘I’m the brother you never had, you’re the brother I never had’,” Sestero says. “And that’s the way I saw it at that point, we were very much relying on each other for support and inspiration, so there’s definitely a connection, a brotherly connection there.”
James, who also directed and produced the film, had a keen sense of the tell-all book not just being about the making of a film, but the making of a friendship and the creative willingness of this unlikely duo. “It was a character story about friendship and following your dreams and the fall-out from that … obviously we all have hopes and dreams about things that don’t become a reality – the fact that this did is very rewarding.”
As a book and a movie, The Disaster Artist succeeds as an inspiration for fellow filmmakers out there – as Sestero has experienced first-hand, even the most eccentric of people can make their dreams come true, even with wholly unintended results.
Sestero’s advice for aspiring filmmakers is similar to his own experience fifteen years ago: “Don’t just sit back and hope to be cast in something, go create your own reality. Find collaborators, find friends who are interested in composing or cinematography, go put a group together and grow and connect and make your own stuff – you never know what might come of that.”
This seems to be the most key takeaway from The Disaster Artist and Wiseau’s crazed ambition that inspired it.