Shooting THE DISASTER ARTIST Was Really Weird For Everyone Because James Franco Directed it in Character as Tommy Wiseau
I've been hearing great things about James Franco's new film The Disaster Artist. The movie is based on the true story of the making of the legendary terrible film The Room, which is known as “the ‘Citizen Kane’ of bad movies.” The movie looks hilarious and weird in the best of ways, but apparently, it was a very strange experience for the cast and crew while shooting the movie. Why? Because Franco directed it in character as Tommy Wiseau!
/Film recently attended a screening and Q&A for the film in James Franco and Dave Franco shared some stories of what it was like for them making the movie, and it sounds like it was a pretty insane experience! Here's the conversion that went down:
James: When else am I ever going to direct a movie and play the movie where the lead is directing a movie and playing the lead? Never! I’m probably never going to do that again. I’ll just tell you, sometimes it works to do the Daniel Day-Lewis.
I think it was a weird experience for most people the first time they came to set. I’d been going through pre-production, testing out the prosthetics, and that was a two or two-and-a-half hour thing every morning, and then I was the director, so I was there before everyone. So I just showed up and I remember a pre-shoot day, we shot this commercial that’s not in the movie, but Tommy did a commercial for his Levis jeans company and we did it shot for shot. He quoted Hamlet in it: ‘To be or not to be? Come to Street Fashions!’ [laughs] He paid for that commercial to get his SAG card. That’s a way to do it. And then Seth [Rogen] showed up that day, and he hadn’t seen me or been around pre-production for a while, and he couldn’t handle it. The whole day, he could not handle it. That was how everybody was when they showed up. Like, ‘What?!’
Dave: After a while, we would sort of get used to it, but there were so many cameos in the movie where every day a new person would show up, and we’d kind of have to prep them. We’d be like, ‘So, you’re not going to be around James today…’
James: Seth’s grandma hated it. Lauren, Seth’s wife, hated it. She’s the sweetest person in the world, but I was dead to her.
Dave: At this point, there’s not much he can do that surprises me anymore. But I remember Seth coming up to me and being like, ‘This is weird for me. That’s your fucking brother. How are you keeping it together during any of these takes?’
James: I had that prosthetic on. It’d probably be weirder if I came up to you with all of that on and was like, [adopts purposefully normal voice] ‘So, Dave, I was thinking about for this scene…’ It’s just easier to just talk like [Tommy].
I don't know about you, but knowing all this makes me even more excited to watch the movie! It would have been a really interesting and crazy experience to work on this movie, but it sounds like nothing like that will ever happen again.
The film is based on the book, The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made, and this it the description:
Nineteen-year-old Greg Sestero met Tommy Wiseau at an acting school in San Francisco. Wiseau’s scenes were rivetingly wrong, yet Sestero, hypnotized by such uninhibited acting, thought, “I have to do a scene with this guy.” That impulse changed both of their lives. Wiseau seemed never to have read the rule book on interpersonal relationships (or the instructions on a bottle of black hair dye), yet he generously offered to put the aspiring actor up in his LA apartment. Sestero’s nascent acting career first sizzled, then fizzled, resulting in Wiseau’s last-second offer to Sestero of costarring with him in The Room, a movie Wiseau wrote and planned to finance, produce, and direct—in the parking lot of a Hollywood equipment-rental shop.
Wiseau spent $6 million of his own money on his film, but despite the efforts of the disbelieving (and frequently fired) crew and embarrassed (and frequently fired) actors, the movie made no sense. Nevertheless Wiseau rented a Hollywood billboard featuring his alarming headshot and staged a red carpet premiere. The Room made $1800 at the box office and closed after two weeks. One reviewer said that watching The Room was like “getting stabbed in the head.”
The ensemble cast also includes Alison Brie, Zac Efron, Josh Hutcherson, Jacki Weaver, Ari Graynor, and Jason Mantzoukas. The Disaster Artist is set to be released in theaters on December 1st.