With ‘The Disaster Artist’, director James Franco (‘As I Lay Dying’, ‘Child of God’) transforms the tragicomic true-story of aspiring filmmaker and infamous Hollywood outsider Tommy Wiseau – an artist whose passion was as sincere as his methods were questionable – into a celebration of friendship, artistic expression, and dreams pursued against insurmountable odds. Based on Greg Sestero’s best-selling tell-all about the making of Tommy’s cult-classic “disasterpiece” ‘The Room’ (“The Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made”), ‘The Disaster Artist’ is a humorous reminder that there is more than one way to become a legend – and no limit to what you can achieve when you have absolutely no idea what you’re doing.
In 2003, an independent filmmaker launched himself into the business out of nowhere with one of the worst movies ever made—The Room, a torrid romantic melodrama about a love triangle gone awry that was written, directed, and produced by Tommy Wiseau. This enigmatic figure with dyed-black hair, bearing an impenetrable foreign accent, became infamous in Hollywood after erecting a billboard on Highland Avenue promoting his bizarre $6 million vanity project. On the billboard was a close-up of Wiseau’s tough-guy demeanor, replete with a sunken eyelid and a misspelled tagline promising “Tennessee Williams-level drama.”
Premiering on two screens in Southern California and abruptly disappearing after grossing a paltry $1800 in two weeks, ‘The Room’ gained new life in the years to come through midnight screenings and word of mouth. Along the way, Wiseau came to embrace his role as the mysterious nobody who blundered his way into Hollywood infamy by pursuing his big dream no matter what the cost.
Flash forward to 2013, when Greg Sestero, one of ‘The Room’s’ stars, published ‘The Disaster Artist’, the young actor’s account of moving to Los Angeles and making ‘The Room’ after meeting Wiseau in a San Francisco acting class, bonding over their mutual love for James Dean. Prior to publication by Simon & Schuster, a galley of the book (co-written with Tom Bissell) fell into the hands of writer-director-producer James Franco, who was in Vancouver shooting ‘The Interview’ with his former ‘Freaks & Geeks’ co-star Seth Rogen. Franco had not yet seen ‘The Room’, but immediately warmed to Sestero’s amusing and frequently charming account of filmmaking by accident – and finding friendship in disaster.
“Tommy made his movie intending it to be a drama and then people laughed at it,” says Franco. “Greg’s book was about Hollywood, but it was also the story of these misfits involved in the production of ‘The Room’. I saw ‘The Disaster Artist’ as an industry-insider story told through outsiders in the vein of ‘Ed Wood’, a movie I loved.”
FILM: THE DISASTER ARTIST
CAST: JAMES FRANCO, DAVE FRANCO, SETH ROGEN, ALISON BRIE, ARI GRAYNOR
DIRECTOR: JAMES FRANCO