The Disaster Artist tells the story of the making of The Room, which is largely considered to be the best-worst movie ever made.
James Franco directed the film and stars as Tommy Wiseau, the real-life director and star of The Room. James’ brother, Dave Franco, plays Greg Sestero, who co-starred in The Room with Wiseau. And Dave’s wife, Alison Brie, plays Greg’s girlfriend, Amber.
Still with us? Good! Because Dave told HelloGiggles all about his impressions of this legendarily bad movie and its cult status, the process of making The Disaster Artist, why James was born to play Tommy, and what he loves about working with family.
HelloGiggles: Were you a fan of The Room before The Disaster Artist? Did you go to midnight screenings, or what was your relationship like with the film before The Disaster Artist?
Dave Franco: I was not very knowledgeable about “The Room,” but then my brother reached out one day and said “We need to make a movie about this,” and I immediately watched The Room in a hotel room in Boston by myself, which is not the way to see that movie. You want to see it with a group so you can turn to people and say, “What the fuck is going on?”
I finished watching it for the first time and felt very unsettled and not really knowing how to feel, but quickly after I attended one of the midnight screenings and immediately understood the cult status of the movie. Since then, I’ve seen the movie probably 20 times, which is more times than I’ve seen any movie ever.
HG: What did you think of The Room after watching it so many times? What did you think of it after working on a film about the making of it?
DF: The Room is known as the best-worst movie ever made, and I think what makes it the best one is the intentions behind it were so pure, as opposed to something like Sharknado. The people behind Sharknado know they’re making a B-movie. They know it’s silly, they know it’s over-the-top.
But with The Room, Tommy Wiseau — who directed, wrote, starred in, produced, and financed it — he was trying to make an earnest drama that would win awards. Tommy just so happens to have the most bizarre outlook on the world, so the final product of the movie is what it is, but you can feel the heart that went into it. I think that’s what makes it stand apart from the rest.
HG: What were your first impressions when you met Greg? What did you think of him?
DF: Greg was very involved throughout and he was a huge asset, for obvious reasons. [The film is based on a book Sestero wrote with Tom Bissell, The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made.] I really picked his brain, mainly about why he was drawn to Tommy in the first place and if he ever thought The Room could be a good movie while he was filming it.
In regards to the first part of that, we tackled this in our movie. We show Greg as a struggling actor. He is very insecure and no one in his life believes in him and everyone’s telling him he can’t make it. And then he meets Tommy, who is this uninhibited weirdo who just goes after what he wants and believes in Greg. As an actor, that’s invaluable, just to have a teammate who’s encouraging you and telling you that you’re good and that you can make it. That explained why he was drawn to Tommy in the first place.
And then in regards to the other part, I was asking Greg whether or not he thought The Room ever had a chance. He claims he didn’t think it could ever be good, but there’s a part of me that doesn’t fully believe him. Because when you’re a young actor and you land a role in any project, it’s the most exciting thing in the world. It’s so hard to make it as an actor, and when you actually get a job — regardless of what it is — you end up having this blind optimism, thinking that this thing could be good.
I’ve gone through that. I’ve been part of projects where, while we were filming it, I thought “Man, this is going to win awards!” And then it came out and it was awful. Like, it wasn’t even okay, it was horrible. I think every actor can relate to that.
HG: What was it like seeing James bring Tommy — this charismatic, unique individual — to life?
DF: It was pretty incredible. This is the role he was born to play. He stayed in character throughout the entire film, which was understandably very strange because he was also directing us in character. Sometimes it felt like Tommy was directing us and it became very meta and there were a lot of levels of weirdness, but I’m really proud of him and happy for him and know how much he put into this. I think it’s paying off. It would’ve been very easy to make Tommy a cartoon character, and my brother made him very three-dimensional and sympathetic. You really feel for him by the end of the movie.
HG: And what was it like working with Alison on this film?
DF: Really fun. We’ve worked together a few times as of late. It’s just easy working with family and with friends, because you feel comfortable with one another, and that’s so important as an actor. That makes me more open to taking risks and trying things that I wouldn’t on a set where I felt insecure. It just really opens me up and makes me my best self.