James Franco (director)
Point Grey Pictures (studio)
30 November 2017 (released)
01 December 2017
Since its small cinema release in Los Angeles in 2003, The Room has become a cult classic. Travel anywhere in the world and you’re bound to find a cinema showing it, with director, writer, producer and actor Tommy Wiseau’s unusual face plastered on posters.
But how did this extraordinarily bad movie come to fruition? And what’s the story behind the mysterious Wiseau? That’s what actor Greg Sestero hoped to capture in his book The Disaster Artist, about the making of The Room and his involvement in the project playing the character Mark alongside Jonny (Wiseau), the banker who will do “anything for his princess” Lisa.
As much as we’d love to go back in time and behind the scenes ourselves, James Franco has done that for us with his big screen adaptation of The Disaster Artist, in which he transforms himself into Wiseau, while his younger brother Dave portrays Sestero.
Audiences get to witness the moment Greg was first bowled over by Tommy’s unusual acting skills, involving him throwing a chair around a stage and thrusting himself off the floor during a class. Teacher Jean (Melanie Griffith) isn’t impressed by Tommy’s so-called performance – in fact, no one is, except Greg, who nervously approaches him after and asks if they can do a scene together.
And so begins the beginning of a friendship which sees them pack up and leave San Francisco for Los Angeles, despite the nerves of Greg’s mother (Megan Mullally), who immediately questions how old Tommy is. “Same age as Greg,” James replies with Tommy’s distinct twang, setting up the shrouded secrecy regarding his age.
Once in the City of Angels Greg immediately gets snapped up by Iris Burton, a real-life talent agent who helped discover Joaquin Phoenix and his siblings and played by Sharon Stone. Tommy, however, struggles to win roles with his long black hair and eastern European accent, which he can’t hide even when insisting he’s from New Orleans.
Both men’s attempts to break into Hollywood are bleak as while Greg has an agent, he can never get him on the phone or actually land jobs, leading him to sigh to Tommy, “I wish we could just make our own movie.”
Taking his comment to heart, we return several weeks later with Tommy presenting a script for his own feature – The Room. It’s no small affair either, with the outspoken filmmaker choosing to buy all the equipment for the project rather than rent it using a large amount of money from... Well, no one knows. With the help of people such as script supervisor Sandy Schklair (James’ regular collaborator Seth Rogen) and a dedicated, if not naive, cast, featuring the likes of actor Dan Janjigian as Chris R (portrayed to perfection by Zac Efron) and Philip Haldiman as Denny (Josh Hutcherson), who at one point asks the question everyone thinks when they watch The Room – ‘How old am I?’ – production starts on what is now regarding as the best worst film of all time.
Any fan of the original will not be disappointed – James’ execution of this fascinating story is absolutely outstanding and the casting couldn’t be better. Not at any point do you feel as though you are watching James; complete with prosthetics, a wig and the famous accent it really does feel as though viewers are getting a glimpse at Wiseau himself.
Meanwhile Dave, despite not necessarily appearing and sounding like Sestero, does his alter ego justice, and watching the brothers play two men who have almost become siblings with their special bond is truly captivating.
Every cast member plays a part in contributing towards the overall tale, especially the lesser known names like Nathan Fielder who plays Kyle Vogt/ Peter and Ari Graynor, who captures actress Juliette Danielle’s role of Lisa incredibly well – notably during The Room’s cringeworthy love scenes.
As the film leads towards The Room’s release, you can’t help but feel excited and anxious, despite knowing full well the affect it had, and still has, on the world – The Disaster Artist is so engaging that it’s impossible not to get swept up in the build-up of a movie that came out over a decade ago.
And when you watch real scenes from The Room played in sync alongside those created especially for The Disaster Artist, that’s when you realise you really have watched a masterpiece.