When we were all in Hawaii, I was joking to Justin about how silly I must appear to some people… guy with money decides he’s going to try to make it in Hollywood. And so he told me about Tommy Wiseau and the movie, “The Room”. In short, Tommy is a successful entrepreneur who decides to try to make it in Hollywood (hang on) and makes his own film for like $10 million dollars. [Here’s his wikipedia article]. The opening titles are a hilarious beginning – “Written by Tommy Wiseau”, “screenplay by Tommy Wiseau”, directed by “Tommy Wiseau”, Produced by: “Tommy Wiseau”, starring “Tommy Wiseau”. I consider the titles the opening scene because it couldn’t be a better declaration of what’s to follow. Check it out:
This whole thing amazed me. Does he not see what we see? What is going on inside that mind of his? What drives this need to make this film – or a better question would be – why did he show it once it was done? I needed to know the answers to these questions. So I started Googling.
And I found Greg Sestero’s book, “The Disaster Artist” – about the making of “The Room” [here’s a link to the book description]. From the first page, I was hooked. It’s honestly one of the most readable, hilarious, thought-provoking but most of all entertaining books I can remember. Greg wrote in a journal about the experience (still don’t know what compelled him to do that) and it became a NYT Best Seller. So, as I’m gobbling up this awesome book, Justin tells me that there’s a [YouTube with Seth Rogen] saying that his buddy James Franco had optioned the book to make a movie!
James Franco and Seth Rogen (masters of one of my favorite movies, “The Interview”) announced that they are making a movie about the making of a very, very bad movie. Now this may not sound funny at all, until you read Greg’s book. I’m quoting one line from it, “it was like watching a baby crawl across the 405 freeway. It was impossible not to watch.”
After I went nuts and nuts about the book was to my family and friends, I wrote a comment on Greg’s page – saying what a great book it was. Soon for some interesting reason that will present itself later, we became friends. We met for breakfast in LA, and Justin, Kris (his brother) and I flew to Vancouver to see the movie in a live screening at the RIO theater. I had never seen “The Room” before in its entirety, and I will say this with 100% certainty. I have never seen people in a movie theater enjoy a movie so much. Ever.
Of course, there was heckling. But cute, brilliant, clever coordinated heckling. Much like the “Rocky Horror Picture Show” but less campy. Crazy editing shit, like people are tossing a football back and forth, and in one cut, the football is tossed and hangs way too long before it gets caught (the hecklers count outloud). Another tickle-the-funny-bone moment is when Greg’s character (Mark) is being seduced by Tommy’s girlfriend. The audience trades lines with the film:
MARK: What are you doing here? What with the music —
CROWD: — What music?
MARK: The sexy dress —
CROWD: –What sexy dress?
MARK: The candles —
CROWD: What candles?
I laughed so hard my throat was sore. And I couldn’t hear the lines because the audience was laughing way too hard. But that would be fixed quickly, as Greg invited me onstage to do a live reading of the original screenplay. So there I was, in front of 400 people, playing the part of “Peter” (the psychiatrist) and trading lines with Mark. Do you know how weird it is to watch a movie in front of a huge crowd of people, not be able to hear some of the lines, and then read them with the co-star – live?
I keep saying to Greg, “enjoy your anonymity” because soon everybody in Hollywood is going to know who he is. I’m watching an olympic sky jumper waiting in the chute. But if anybody is going to emerge from this without becoming a weirdo, it’s Greg.
Greg’s friend Jason (also a writer) and I have been trading phone calls. He said that the reason Greg stuck around with the eccentric Tommy Wiseau for so long was because that’s the kind of guy Greg is. He will not leave you behind. He is the nicest guy, and he could tell that Tommy was really lonely.
So filming started Friday. Starring is James Franco. Dave Franco is playing my buddy Greg, and the film has Seth Rogen and Josh Hutcherson (star of “The Hunger Games”) have roles.
You will learn a lot from Greg’s book, or this movie when it comes out. The reason that Greg and I have so much to talk about is that we both got “discovered” by big agents, and we both know that this is no guarantee of actual work. So we know what it’s like to get the rush of an audition (or interview) and hear nothing back. And then one day… a film that you may have thought would wind up as nothing (Greg tried to change the spelling of his name to avoid it being listed on his IMDB!) ends up becoming a major feature film with A list starts and New Line distributing.
Make no mistake about it – while this is a movie about Tommy’s movie, it’s the story of Greg’s story. And it is one that will warm your heart.
So here’s (from the left) Kris MacGregor, me, Greg Sestero and Justin MacGregor in Vancouver, at the RIO theater.