Over the course of a year, Tommy Wiseau has gone from a cult movie legend to a bona fide celebrity, thanks to The Disaster Artist. The film, about the making of Wiseau’s disasterpiece The Room, is based on a memoir co-written by his collaborator, Greg Sestero, and journalist Tom Bissell. Wiseau and Sestero will soon reunite for a new project, Best F(r)iends, to be released in two parts, with the first half dropping at the end of March.
Ahead of The Disaster Artist’s DVD release on March 13, Slate spoke to Wiseau and Sestero about how the film has affected the popularity of The Room and what inspired their upcoming reunion movie.
Marissa Martinelli: Let’s start with you, Tommy. Do you have a favorite scene in The Disaster Artist?
Tommy Wiseau: One of my favorite scenes I relate to, when James, playing me, confronts the crew and actors that he recorded—I’m just paraphrasing—that he knows they talk about him and make fun of him and all that stuff. Do you remember that scene?
Yes, I remember. He yells that the crew is not grateful and says he knows they talk about him because he records them behind the scenes.
Wiseau: OK, so, this part of the scene I was very emotional when I see it for the first time. Other scenes as well, but this kind of stick in my mind because actually, on the set of The Room, that’s exactly what transpired. But before—let me stress that before recording people, we’d just say “Everything will be recorded behind the scenes of The Room.” So it’s a funny story as well as emotional, because I gave people a job and it just didn’t come out right, the way I see it. You know? But it is, on the end of the day it’s happened with The Room as well as Disaster Artist.
So, he takes the risk like James Franco’s team, and I think they did good job. That’s my take on that.
What about you, Greg?
Greg Sestero: I loved the scene in which they go to the James Dean crash site, because that was probably my favorite memory in our friendship. It was really moving to see.
That’s a scene that you not only lived through but also included in the book that you co-wrote. Were there any parts of the book that didn’t make it into the movie that you wish the filmmakers had included?
Sestero: Obviously with the book you’re able to do a lot more, but with the film you’ve got to condense quite a bit. I thought they did a good job of condensing the friendship chapters. I mean, there’s a few moments … when my mom met Tommy, it was a little bit more wacky. I don’t know why she said it but out of nowhere she’s like, “No sex,” and I always thought that was just so bizarre and strange. Obviously, that didn’t make it into the film, probably for good reason considering you got two brothers playing those parts.
Other than that I thought it was a very smart adaptation. I think the book can do its own thing and maybe go a little deeper and further into things, it’s a little darker. But I think as a film they stayed focused, and I think the film is very enjoyable as well.
Are you guys finding that a lot of fans are seeing The Room for the first time because of The Disaster Artist?
Wiseau: Yeah, but keep in mind though, we did screen The Room the past fourteen and a half years. So we’ve been pretty established. We have sold out audiences before. But yeah, definitely you’re right with statement that it does enhance The Room popularity. I notice the media, they are much more rush to analyze The Room, which—I like it personally, because that’s what The Room is about, the people analyze, not just to, you know, say, “This is wrong, this is wrong.” But if they analyze the characters and my vision, I really enjoy it.
The two of you have another movie coming out, Best F(r)iends, which you wrote, Greg. What inspired the script for that?
Sestero: I saw an early cut of The Disaster Artist and I thought it was inspiring in a lot of ways, and it made me realize it had been so long since I had tried to make a film, or to try to—you know, the book was obviously my first kind of big creative pursuit I had control over. I realized after all these years learning from that experience, we just wanted to be taken seriously as actors and try to make something. I thought it had been enough time, so I decided to sit down and write a script.
It was inspired by this very strange road trip that Tommy and I took back in 2003. I just kind of pulled from that and ended up very quickly putting a story together. I thought it would be a great challenge, to make, like, an L.A. noir thriller and put Tommy in a serious role and make something that would be a very different world from The Room. It’s the first time Tommy’s been put in a role that takes him seriously. We’ve tested the film, so far people have really flipped for it, and I think they’re surprised.
Tommy, what do you think of the role that Greg wrote for you?
Weiseau: I think he did good job. I think that’s what Greg’s like, he’s good at creating something. I would say that when you find your sort of passion you should go for it. And I remember when Greg called me said “Do you want to make movie?” I said, “What movie?” He said, “Oh, I have this script.” I said, “OK, all right, just send me the script.”
And next day—I don’t know, Greg, was it next day? Refresh my memory. It was next day or following week, and we were on the set of the Best F(r)iends.
Wow, that’s pretty quick.
Sestero: It came together quickly.
Wiseau: But I was very surprised because he actually wrote the script and everything was scripted. And I’m trying to memorize the lines, and we have new technique to memorize the line, which I think works pretty well.
It sounds like Best F(r)iends was something of a role reversal from The Room, where you, Tommy, approached Greg with a script. With this new project, it’s the opposite.
Wiseau: I don’t know if you remember in The Disaster Artist when James brings the script and say to Greg, played by Davey, “Read this.” And I did the same thing in real life, and Greg didn’t wanna read it. And I told him, I think I forced him, and he did think it was pretty good actually. Right, Greg?
Sestero: [chuckles] I was intrigued, I was definitely intrigued. I still think that, uh, the original draft from The Room was brilliant in its own way. It made me laugh, which is—which is a good thing. It got a reaction.