Actor Greg Sestero, with help from author Tom Bissell, gives the reader insight -- some hilarious, some just plain odd -- about the making of the movie The Room, which has been called The Citizen Kane of bad movies. I read most of the book before I saw the movie and realized this film is just as awful -- bad writing, directing, awful dialogue -- as I'd heard. Then I re-read the book and re-wastched the movie.
The problem with the movie is that the director, lead actor, screenwriter, and producer are one person: Tommy Wiseau, and Wiseau clearly marches to the beat of his own drum machine. And, in his book, when not writing about the making of the movie, Sestero is writing about his personal relationship getting to know Wiseau.
Actor/author James Franco has optioned the book to become a film. He is one of many celebrities who have Tweeted about how fun it is to watch such an awful and confusing movie.
As Sestero writes in the book about the main character Mark, (played by Tommy): "I still think it's hilariously strange that it's never revealed in the film what Mark does for a living, or where exactly he lives, or why he smokes Rooftop weed, or why he ties to kill Peter, or why he so suddenly turns against Johnny late in the film, or where he and Johnny take Chris,-R, or why he does a number of things. He's a character without a head and without a tail."
Things to watch for when viewing the room, according to this book: - Watch that four separate credits for Tommy appear before the movie even starts one for producer, one for executive producer, one for director and one for writer. Ego trip? Usually there's one shown credit for all parts.
- There's a major scene with a character with the odd name, Chris-R,hassling a character for money owed for drugs. This character only appears in this scene and is never referred to again.
- The whole script, also written by Tommy, is clunky and has plot holes and has exchanges like this: "
Whether you are a fan of this movie or curious about how such a terrible movie was made or just want to read a hilariously disturbing book I suggest reading this.
And with that let's head into the interview:
Why did you decide to write this book?
I felt strongly about the material. Whenever I’d share stories of my experiences with Tommy and making The Room, people always thought they were too crazy to be true. Apart from the insanity, I also thought the story behind The Room was weirdly inspiring. I felt it was a universal story that could appeal to more than just fans of The Room. It was a great chance for me to share my story about following your dreams, an unlikely friendship and a surreal variation on the American Dream.
What does Tommy - the producer/writer/lead actor - think of the book? Are you two still in touch? Tommy refers to The Disaster Artist as “The Red Bible.” He’s expressed his fondness for the friendship chapters of the book, but only approves 50% of the making-of The Room chapters. He believes The Room is the greatest movie ever made so he’s not supportive of anything deterring from that.
How would you describe Tommy to those who have not read the book?
Tommy is the ultimate character: Mysterious, interplanetary, charismatic. Some good descriptions I’ve heard over the years: A vampire who joined the Merchant Marine, sounds like Borat trying to do an impression of Christopher Walken playing a mental patient, a cyborg from the future. My initial impression of him was that he seemed half comic book character, half hair metal icon.
When you hear quotes like "the Citizen Kane of bad movies" how do you react? What were your favorite quotes about the movie and book?
I always find the reactions to The Room to be hilarious, but I didn’t anticipate how clever the responses, one liners and memes would end up being. When I first watched the rough cut with family and friends, we were all curious as to how a mainstream audience would respond to it. At that point, outside of Tommy, no one assumed The Room would ever see the light of day.
The quote that I love most about the movie is “Watching this film is like getting stabbed in the head.” My goal with the book was to write something first rate about something fifth rate. One of my favorite quotes about The Disaster Artist is by The Huffington Post: “Possibly the most important piece of literature ever printed.” I think these quotes compliment each other well.
There are events where people wear costumes and watch the movie in theaters? Have you gone? What's that like?
The best way to experience The Room is in a theatre. The audience participation really makes the film’s magical flaws come alive. I attended a screening at the Ziegfeld in New York City a while back, and it was a great experience. 1,200 people shouting lines and throwing spoons at the screen in unison was something to behold.
What do you hope people will take away from The Disaster Artist?
I hope readers will experience a balance of heart, sadness, and humor. I think the story expressly depicts the power of believing in oneself as well as the perils that can arise when pursuing your dream. Lastly, I think the book proves that, in life, anything is possible.
I'll end with the big question people who have seen the movie ask me: What was Tommy thinking? What did he see that we don’t see?
Tommy had a grand vision. He wanted to make the next great American drama. He wanted to the next Marlon Brando. He wanted to win an Oscar. He wasn’t going to let anyone deter him from those goals. The night Tommy conceived The Room, he told me “When people see my project, people will not sleep for two weeks.” In a way, mission accomplished.