The Disaster Artist, the book and film, were everywhere in late 2017 and early 2018 before fading into a distant memory when James Franco’s inherent creepiness turned out to be the sexual predatory type of creepiness and not just quirkiness eventually quashing the film’s Oscar dreams. While scrolling through Overdrive recently I came across Greg Sestero’s memoir and, vaguely familiar with the story, decided to give it a shot.
“What I was sure of was that Tommy had something I’d never seen in anyone else: a blind and unhinged and totally unfounded ambition. He was so out of touch, so lacking in self-awareness, yet also wildly captivating. That night there was this aura around Tommy- an aura of the possible.”
Sestero was a young aspiring actor who, following some overseas modeling and uncredited featured extra work, began taking acting classes in San Francisco where he met Tommy Wiseau. Greg was instantly fascinated by Wiseau and approached him about doing a scene together in class which led to an Odd Couple friendship and something of an acting partnership. When Greg decided to move to Los Angeles in hopes of scoring an agent and kicking his acting career into gear Tommy offered him the use an apartment he had for only a few hundred dollars a month. Tommy, jealous that Greg’s acting career was beginning to gain traction, eventually moved into the apartment as well which strained their friendship. Greg moved out and Tommy fell off the grid for a bit before resurfacing with the script that would become The Room.
Greg Sestero does my newest pet peeve in memoirs and bounces his story line around. The only way I was able keep track of when the anecdote took place in the timeline was if Greg referenced whether or not he was living in Tommy’s apartment (all filming of The Room took place after Greg moved out of the LA apartment). Greg does his best juggling both brutal honesty about the filming experience and kindness towards his friend veering closer to the former as the story progresses. Filming never went smoothly; Tommy, who had seemingly bottomless pockets, would show up to set hours late and would alternate between being a cheapskate about costume costs and sparing no expense for his vision by purchasing over a quarter of a million dollars in film equipment. There was also a lot of casting drama. Tommy fired his lead actor and replaced him with Greg on the first day of filming, he also demanded everyone be on set every day regardless of what scene was being filmed and if actors left production before filming was done he gave their lines to new characters without any explanation. Greg and most of the cast never believed The Room would see the light of day but today it is something of a cult classic.
Overall this is a wild ride you should check out!