An account of the making of Tommy Wiseau’s cult classic terrible movie, The Room
, by the leading actor, who was also Tommy’s roommate, Tommy’s friend, and one of Tommy’s five credited assistants on The Room
, two of whom never appeared on the set and one of whom was dead.
You can get a sense of The Room
by watching this thirteen second clip
: the unfathomable choice to shoot on unconvincing green screen in a parking lot rather than use the actual roof or studio they had available, Wiseau’s peculiar costume (chosen by himself) and even more peculiar line delivery (“I did not hit her, I did nawwwt! Oh hai Mark”), and most peculiar of all, Wiseau’s acting, which goes beyond mere woodenness to give the impression of an alien or robot attempting to imitate one of those strange “human” creatures.
Those thirteen seconds, Sestero tells us, took three hours to shoot due to Wiseau’s inability to walk, talk, hit his mark, or emerge from the Port-A-Potty-like outhouse without whacking his head.The Disaster Artist
is both an account of the making of a world-class bad movie and a character study of the world-class oddball who created it:Even today, a decade later, I still can’t unsee Tommy’s outfit: nighttime sunglasses, a dark blazer as loose and baggy as rain gear, sand-colored cargo pants with pockets filled to capacity (was he smuggling potatoes?), a white tank top, clunky Frankenstein combat boots, and two belts. Yes, two belts. The first belt was at home in its loops; the second draped down in back to cup Tommy’s backside, which was, he always claimed, the point: “It keeps my ass up. Plus it feels good.”
Sestero may be a decent actor when not directed by Tommy Wiseau, but based on his lack of other credits, I suspect he’s a much better writer. His prose is a pleasure to read, and his depiction of the doom-laden hilarity of the making of a truly terrible movie is dead-on.
Tommy Wiseau is a strange, mysterious, lonely person who won’t say where he came from or how old he is, and has apparently unlimited funds. He connects with Sestero in a relationship that starts off casual and ends up taking over his life.
Sestero is a struggling actor who is inspired by Wiseau’s ability to be totally himself (he has pens printed with “Wiseau’s Planet,” which he may have beamed down from; that would explain a lot); Wiseau seems to be attempting to figure out human interactions by studying the one person willing to be his friend, with a side of spooky fixation a la The Talented Mr. Ripley
. It’s all fun and games until Sestero is lying awake and seething at 4:00 AM while Wiseau is hanging upside down like a bat from the pull-up bar he installed on the door to Sestero’s room. I tried to imagine Tommy's mind from the inside out. I saw burning forests, blind alleys, volcanoes in the desert, city streets that plunged into the ocean, barricades everywhere, and all of it lit in the deep-cherry light of emergency.
The book is dead-on about the way you can slip into a friendship with someone you like at first, who then reveals more and more clingy weirdness until you suddenly wake up wondering how the hell you put up with it for so long and run for the hills. Once Sestero is no longer rooming with Wiseau, he’s more able to appreciate Wiseau’s peculiar brand of charm. Which does exist, but is best enjoyed from a distance. The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made
(currently $1.99 at Amazon).