This film, The Disaster Artist, came into my awareness earlier in the year, during the Golden Globes. I had not heard of Tommy Wiseau, who wrote, starred in, directed and produced The Room, a flick called “the best worst movie ever made”.
However, James Franco won the Globe for best actor in a leading role in The Disaster Artist, which is a movie about Tommy creating the terrible film that has gone on to amass a huge cult following. James called Tommy up onto the stage to stand with him as he accepted the award. In those few minutes in the spotlight, I could tell that Tommy was an unusual man. I was intrigued.
I still haven’t seen The Room. However I watched James Franco’s movie by way of Amazon Prime this afternoon.
The Disaster Artist stars James Franco, Dave Franco, Seth Rogen, and Ari Graynor. This comedy drama, directed by James Franco, carries an R rating for language, sexuality and nudity, and has a run time of 1 hour and 43 minutes. The film is based on the book, The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, The Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made by Greg Sestero, the actor who helped Tommy create his disasterpiece.
Greg (Dave Franco) meets Tommy (James Franco) in an acting class in San Francisco, in 1998. Greg lacks confidence before an audience, causing him to greatly admire Tommy, who is not only fearless but way, way outside the box in terms of technique.
The two men agree to do scenes together in class, and in the process of practicing lines, they become good friends. Like Greg, Tommy aspires to be an actor and a filmmaker. However, people in the industry don’t “get” Tommy or appreciate his unique acting style.
Although he claims to be from New Orleans, Tommy has a heavy Eastern Europe accent, owns property in San Francisco and Los Angeles but won’t divulge how he acquired his wealth, and remains vague about his age. None of that matters to Greg. He appreciates the passion with which Tommy pursues his dreams against overwhelming odds.
Greg and Tommy make a pact to move to Los Angeles and break into the acting industry. Greg begins to date Amber (Graynor), after the two hit it off at a bar, and signs on with a talent agency, but the hoped for roles are scarce. No one will give Tommy a chance. A well known producer tells him, “Just because you want it doesn’t mean it can happen. In a million years it will never happen.”
Because they made a pact to help each other succeed, Tommy and Greg decide that if no one will hire them, they will create their own movie. Tommy writes the screenplay for a film he calls The Room. Greg agrees to star in it. It’s obvious the two don’t have a clue what they are doing, however they proceed with enthusiasm as they assemble a production team led by script supervisor Sandy Schklair (Rogen).
A casting call goes out for an actress to play the female lead. The auditions alternate between hilarious and painful to watch, until Tommy at last finds his leading lady, beginning actress Juliette Danielle (Graynor). A 40 day shooting schedule is arranged at a studio that provides all the equipment needed, and filming of The Room begins.
It’s a shared adventure between Greg and Tommy that leaves the other actors and the film crew confused and perplexed. Everyone sees the alarming project through to the end, resulting in an unforgettable premiere.
Tommy Wiseau with the actual poster he created for his film, which premiered in 2003.
I had no idea what to expect with The Disaster Artist, and no prior knowledge of Tommy and his movie apart from his five minutes on the Golden Globe stage. Remaining open and curious as the story unfolded, I fell in love with this film.
James Franco marvelously captures Tommy’s eccentricities, from his speech patterns and mannerisms to his unabashed excitement over creating a film. And Dave, James’ real-life brother, steps into the role of Greg equally well. The friendship that Greg and Tommy cultivated endured the stresses and rigors of a creative project that no one else believed in, and continues today.
James Franco on the left, Tommy Wiseau on the right.
Dave Franco on the left and Greg Sestero on the right.
The Disaster Artist is a brilliant movie about a movie. I laughed, often, at the outrageous boldness of Tommy Wiseau, and just as often I teared up because he so believed in his dream. He didn’t care what anyone else thought or said about him or his film. Instead he moved unwaveringly toward its completion.
Although the movie does not shy away from any aspects of Tommy’s story, it does not ridicule or belittle the man or his beliefs. And I deeply appreciated that. I could not help but cheer Tommy and Greg on. They beat the odds and brought their dreams into reality.
Although The Room, which cost Tommy 6 million dollars to create, only made $1800 its opening weekend, the movie has become a cult classic. It still plays in major cities around the US each year, generating between half a million and a million in revenue for its creator.
After watching The Disaster Artist, I’m glad to know that Tommy’s dream is alive and well and continuing to bring him fame and fortune. I’m inspired by his persistence and his faith in his own abilities. Now if I can just find a way to view his masterpiece, The Room.