Oh, hi Mark! An Interview with Greg Sestero

When faced with glowing injustice, it’s time to stand up and say no. With all the good movies (or supposedly good, which is not always the same thing) taking up space in the magazines, we decided to talk to the man who starred in The Room – the worst film ever made – and survived to tell about the experience. With his book The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside of The Room, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made now turned into a high-profile movie starring James Franco, Dave Franco and Seth Rogen, Mark, that is Greg Sestero, seems to have accepted the fact that once you go Wiseau, you never go back. 

When you go to the screenings after all these years and see people yelling at the screen and throwing spoons, what’s your take on it?

It’s really surprising. It has been 15 years and people are still watching it. It’s one thing to make a film, but to have it being appreciated like that… Obviously, it’s for different reasons that you would normally hope for [laughter]. But it’s still very, very surprising. I went to some of the early screenings and I have seen the responses. But then it continued to grow in a way that I didn’t anticipate, because a lot of actual industry people found it and appreciated it. This movie is so unique in its own right. By 2009, it had a whole different audience I didn’t even know about.

Paul Rudd, Kristen Bell and of course James Franco, who now decided to adapt your book – it got some high-profile fans over the years. 

I think the question that comes to mind whenever somebody watches this film for the first time is: Why? Were we aware of what we were actually making? I could have done five other good movies instead and nobody would care. And with The Room, it has been an experience I couldn’t have had otherwise. As for Tommy, he came about it in a different way. He wrote it, produced it and starred in it. I just came into it and it ended up being this phenomenon that nobody could have ever foreseen. So there is no real reason for me to sit here and say I regret it. There are millions of actors that go and do things that never get seen. And this film has been shown for 15 years!

Was it fun to be involved in The Disaster Artist? You play a casting agent. 

Having your story told by such great people and getting to see it come alive was a joy. It helps that the movie is terrific, too. James actually read the book first – he hadn’t seen The Room before. He responded to the material immediately – he ever wrote a review of the book in “Vice” in which he explained what he liked about it and it was just spot on. He approached it in a very sincere way. He really likes Hollywood stories and this one was really insane [laughter]. I knew that he was the right person to do it. He got it. He got every aspect of the story.

People are so fascinated by Tommy and yet he refuses to talk about himself. In the book, you chose not to reveal his background as well. Why was it important for you not to say explicitly: This is where he is from, this is why he speaks like that? 

I just tried to tell the story of the film. I figured that with more personal stuff, he could share it one day if he wants to. And also, I don’t think his fans really want to know these things – they prefer to think he came from a different planet or something. His mystery is part of the fun, so why would you want to know everything? It was never my goal to reveal everything about him – I just wanted to show what propelled him to make this outrageous movie. When you are a part of something that is so unexplainable, you can tell a story that hasn’t been told before. I think my passion for cinema grew after The Room. After something like that, you can either choose to learn a lot and let it affect you positively or just give up and move on.

What surprised me the most about your book was its warmth. It’s not like you are just taking a piss, although God knows you could have. 

When I first got the idea for the book, I immediately told Tommy and he was supportive of it, although he has his own views on some of the events. The chapters that covered the making of the film he has his own opinions on, so that was something he had issues with [laugher]. It’s always weird to read somebody else’s perspective about you. It’s understandable. But the book was intended to be honest and loving for most parts. Life is too short – there is no point in taking it too seriously. Ultimately, I think it was very rewarding for both of us. Now they made a film, which is terrific, and James Franco did an amazing job playing Tommy. He agrees with the book only to a certain percentage, but it only got us closer. We just finished making another movie together [Best F(r)iends, with Wiseau playing a mortician], so it has been a bizarre decade of this.

Seem like you can’t really escape him.

There is no point to escape, really. If people enjoy making something together, why shouldn’t they? I did not plan on working with Tommy again, but suddenly this came to fruition and it was fun to do. It took us almost 6 months to finish, so it’s another crazy one. We had other people doing the camera, just like in The Room, because when you have Tommy doing all this technical stuff, the film would never happen. And actually, Tommy is excellent in the movie – it’s a role that really fits him. I really tried to get away from him and do other things, but so far, everything just led me back in. It’s extremely strange. Probably it was another case of the opposites attract and sharing a goal – however ridiculous that goal was. And being outsiders, for very different reasons. It’s one of these things that I just came to accept.

It must have taken you some time though – you often said that after the first sex scene you just fled the theatre.

Those are the parts of the film I have a hard time watching for sure. When my family saw it, they thought it was hilarious. I guess it was some kind of a sign of what was to come. I haven’t seen it for a while now, but when you watch it with the audience it really comes alive. People still ask me about so many things – like the Chris-R scene [drug dealer who attempts to kill Denny for not paying him his money back. Or something]. Or anything that has to do with the rooftop, or why I shaved my beard all of a sudden. Which kind of circles back to me talking about the mystery of it all. If you explain everything there are no more questions. And there is no more The Room.

He managed to make a film and it’s a story about someone who keeps hearing no. So it’s quite uplifting in the end. 

Yes, absolutely. Right after the premiere, it was strange to have somebody respond to the film with laughter. But I think Tommy understood that the film was getting a reaction. So I think he just adjusted to that. After all, nobody really knows how your movie is going to be received. This just goes to show that it can’t hurt to try, because you can always improve.

The full interview was published in Episodi.


Greg Sestero

The man who survived The Room.


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Dziennikarka filmowa publikująca w Polsce i za granicą. Pisze m.in. dla "Episodi", "Sirp Eesti Kultuurileht", "La Furia Umana" oraz "Dwutygodnika". Współpracuje z wieloma festiwalami filmowymi, w tym z Helsinki International Film Festival. Uwielbia kino kultowe wychodząc ze (słusznego) założenia, że każdy film powinien być o zombie.