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In The Room: The Francos Talk ‘The Disaster Artist’

“Unlike a lot of people, I didn’t see the movie for a long time; it came to me through the book, strangely. People like Jonah Hill, Kristen Bell and Paul Rudd were all early The Room fans, but I never got in on it, not until the book came out four years ago. I started reading it and it was incredible, so before I was half way through it, I ordered the DVD and watched it with friends; after being primed by the book and it’s incredible story, seeing the film was amazing. I knew it would be fun to recreate those scenes, but I also knew it wouldn’t be enough without the incredible backstory of these two friends and their dreams; everybody that comes to Hollywood dreams, and that universal appeal of the story would make this a movie that we could really hang a story on.”

Soon after, James went to a screening of The Room in Vancouver – which he applauds for its impressive amount of spoons – and here he met Sestero and told him that he wanted to make a movie based on his book. After falling in love with The Room and the story behind it, next on James’ agenda was to get Dave to participate in his project, but Dave was skeptical at first.

“He texted me one night and said ‘if you haven’t seen this movie, watch it immediately; we need to make our own movie about it!’ At the time, I was working in Boston and I watched The Room for the first time by myself in a hotel room, and that’s not the way to watch this movie; you want people to turn to and say ‘what the hell is going on?!’, so I finished that viewing feeling very unsettled and not knowing how to feel. But then soon after, I went to one of the midnight screenings and immediately understood the cult status of the movie, and since then we’ve both seen the movie 25-30 times.”

With his brother on board, the next step for James was to unlock how to become Tommy and channel his essence. Finding the book to be a great starting point, James would soon draw an unlikely parallel between Wiseau and one of Hollywood’s most iconic legends.

“Nobody knows Tommy better than Greg Sestero. In the book, Greg and Tom Bissell, the other writer, go into Tommy’s past a little bit, and they start to equate coming to America and escaping his surroundings with breaking into the movies. In that sense, that reading of the story was so powerful to me because it’s actually the story of James Dean in a way; James Dean lost his mother at age eight and his father sent him away to live with his aunt and uncle, and as a result he had this huge hole in his heart and soul and thought ‘if I make it into the movies, then I’ll be worth something, I’ll be loved’. And it was somewhat the same way with Tommy, that’s how I understood him.”

Greg Sestero and Tommy Wiseau outside the Prince Charles Cinema in London, England.

One of he many theories regarding the bafflingly odd plot of The Room suggests that the film may be a paraphrasing of Wiseau’s own life story in terms of how Tommy and The Room’s main character of Johnny are both seeing their lives and dreams fall apart.

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