The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made was written by one of the stars of the cult classic film The Room"
The Room was written by, directed by, executive produced by [one of the producers had been dead by several years predating the film], starring and produced by Tommy Wiseau. The Room is a vanity project by a man whose ego and self delusion is only matched by his jealous despair at being rejected by Hollywood. Hollywood encompasses America to Wiseau, so in essence, he has been rejected by America by not becoming a movie star. Sestero realises at one point that Wiseau has not one clue about the dreams of others, let alone Americans, that the ideal he sets in The Room bizarrely meets most idea of a nightmare. Who would describe the perfect life as the one in this film? Only Wiseau. The hero of the film does not get his job promotion, the love of his life cheats on him with his best friend, his quasi-adopted son has a drug addiction, and he kills himself.
How is this the American dream?
Wiseau is jealous of the "All-American" quality he perceives Greg to have. He is nastily bitter toward any degree of success, such as auditions Greg is not even hired for, and holds over renting his apartment above his head.
This film is honestly a pity party for Tommy to live out.
I wondered why he just didn't get out of this horrible situation while reading the book. Sestero is honest with himself, and to the readers, why he became friends with Wiseau in the first place.
He shows us the many facets of this man, and of himself, in the process.
Wiseau absolutely based The Room on Greg. He was "betrayed" by him, cruelly casting people out before they could reject him so he could feel like a victim. We get a sense of that from watching the film, the entire picture was a revenge piece for someone who apparently hurt Wiseau. He was never honestly hurt by Greg at all, this fact makes reading these recreated scenes of the film quite creepy. Wiseau insists on having Greg by his side when he films the awkwardly written dialogue. The problem is, he lives completely in his own head-space with no attempt to understand anyone else. His characters are one dimensional, misogynistic, cliches scraped together from movies and rearranging people to make himself a victim.
Wiseau had an image of how things were supposed to turn out for him, without ever looking around him, to see how things did not turn out for anyone else.
In a roundabout way, The Room is about life, as Wiseau claims, but not in the way he thinks it is. It is about life because things don't turn out like you'd expect them to. Wiseau has had to live with his finally earned celebrity but not on his own terms. He's savagely brutal towards those on set working with him, that everything has to be his idea. He'll only pay for the equipment he needs, refuses to understand the requested generator is for his benefit and won't buy it. He won't have water on set, makes the actors sick without air conditioning, makes Greg both the lead actor and line producer, etc. It's very fitting that his fame ended up not on his own terms. This movie is a huge cult classic with midnight showings around the world. People like it as a comedy, not the serious drama with the passion of "Tennessee Williams".
Wiseau wrote up fake reviews when the film originally came out in 2003. This bit killed me: "And here was praise courtesy of something called Beverly Hills 90210: "If you've been missing Tennessee [yes, sic] Williams films, the 'new Williams' is a ragin' Cajun."
The unintentional humour aspect is the entire appeal of the Wiseau mystique. He's dead serious. Sestero admired the gusto of Tommy's outlook, the sheer lack of shame, total inhibition. He threw himself into his dreams and went for it. He captures what attracted him initially with the discovery of that the nasty darkness lurking underneath.
Sestero did everything a memoir should have and answered those hard questions. He wasn't the perfect golden boy who didn't do anything wrong. His own mother tells Tommy right in front of him that he can't have sex with him. A grown man! If he'd really been interested in Tommy that way... she says good-bye to him a way that was quite emasculating.
No one in his life approves of this friendship with Tommy.
This is later revisted, when he has Tommy drop him off at an acting class. "Be careful. The gigolo business doesn't work how you think."
Greg's friend Don, the hippie, compared him to The Talented Mr. Ripley.
I think he was on to something there, but the influence was there throughout the book to come to that conclusion. Most of the book chapters pre-face with a quote from the film. This sets up how Tommy does not see the world the same way, for the movie discomfits him, but to "Show Hollywood" not that he has an intense jealous hatred of Greg to have the life he can't have. The viewer sees Dickie's life as less than ideal, we see Greg's life riddled with problems as does Greg but to the Tommys of the world they have something not only eluding them but taken from them.
He even names Greg's character Mark after the star of the film, Mark Damon.
Sestero has a co-author, Tom Bissell, who helps him piece together this very touching and honest look at friendship and rivalry.
What does it mean as a fan of this movie to watch something and laugh at it? We feel both deeply disturbed and engrossed, at times amused. He captures all of this with the book but has an emotional honesty Wiseau was not capable of with his movie. For one thing, he clearly has no idea what women are like as people. That women are people for that matter.
Sestero has stated in interviews that it is not necessary to watch The Room to read this book. Their relationship story would be interesting on its own without having seen the film. Even without having seen that awkward flowershop scene from The Room the particular behind-the-scenes should provide entertainment on its own. The details of how the crew tried to work around Wiseau is a workplace nightmare beyond anyone but a Lisa Frank employee dreams.
The fact that he bought the film crew equipment instead of renting them, both 35mmm and HD to run at the same time, because no one in Hollywood had ever done it was mind boggling. The sheer incompetence for film lovers to see how this thing was made should alone make this worth reading.
The amusing aspects of how Wiseau put together scenes based on his friendship with Greg makes fans of this film richer and more rewarding. I'd recommend at least watching the highlights on youtube. It would spare you the awkward sex scenes.
Tommy does not fire the original actor for the Mark character. His actual name is Dan, but Tommy never remembers his name and calls him Don. He just has the poor guy film all of his scenes and tells him Greg is there to shoot some scenes for the mythical producers.
He keeps the entire cast and crew on set even when there is no need for them to be there. They had to reimburse their own work when they tear down and rebuild sets.
I haven't been to a midnight screening of this film yet, but people like to dress up in tuxedos and throw the football around. This is just one aspect of the bizarre world Wiseau lives in that this constitutes playing football. The crew don't even know why they had to wear tuxedos. Wiseau just shows up and says the scene is "important".
He's very patriotic and puts the set through a lengthy prayer scene with "USA! USA!" chants the year for the first 9/11 anniversary.
Greg tells us that Wiseau claims to be from a former Soviet country. He grew up watching Disney films from theatre windows. Those half glimpses of "101 Dalmations" must have shaped his world view of America. He spends some time in Germany, the France and finally gets an uncle to sponsor his trip to Louisiana. His life sounded very hard, if a word of it was true.
We get a vision of a man whose clearly engaged in male prostitution, sells black market goods and toy plastic birds. How he grossed the six million to fund The Room remains unclear.
He could actually be the vampire he tried to add into The Room, or the an alien. The line from the film where Mark asks "What planet are you from?" elicited an emotional response from Tommy that Greg realised must have hit quite close to home. Tommy must have been asked that a lot, but back in Eastern europe he had America as a dream to balm his pain.
When he finally came to America and things still did not work out he had nothing left to hide from that he did not belong.
What Tommy could have used was what fans of The Room take from watching this movie. That everyone has some part of themselves that does not fit in. You either self-delude yourself enough it is always someone elses fault as Tommy did. Or view it as Greg did about those willing to try to make it in Hollywood have that part of themselves that is not right. I've always found Tom Cruise to be creepy, even before the Scientology stuff started showing up more and more. Why give so much time to be famous? Greg's dad told him something in him wasn't right to hang out with Tommy. Tommy never asked himself why Greg went inside his apartment despite that creepy Zodiac killer symbol outside, kept living with him despite his cruel treatment of him at times.
No one is perfect. Once you free yourself up to accept that side of yourself it's liberating.
I see it as Greg could take that part Tommy could give him, but like Tommy refused to accept advice from his film crew, he refused to accept those qualities Greg had to offer him.
Besides imitating his accent that is. That was all that attracted Tommy to Greg. That was pretty sad viewing their friendship from that prism.
Tommy Wiseau will always be stuck.
His gift was having to turn around and accept the success of The Room for what audiences took from it. You can never control how others perceive you.
Parts of the book were disturbing, is Tommy a serial killer and the book will end with a note that he murdered Greg? Greg posits the saddest thing about Tommy hiding his origins is that he hates even his own age. I kept going back to hatred of Tommy, disgust and annoyance to sharing Greg's sadness at someone who hates themselves that much everything about them is fake. He can't pretend to be normal because he has no concept of how another person feels, their ambitions or motivations.
I have doubts Tommy Wiseau is actually Eastern European. He might be from Planet Tommy and we all live on it. Or he's just a mentally ill man whose successfully conned us by allowing us to fill in the blanks by deliberately keeping things blank.
I think if he actually is from former Soviet bloc it was his narcissism and egoism that kept him from embracing the police state. He appeared to be quite invested in the disgusting USA! USA! aspect of American political culture.
You won't get to the bottom of Tommy Wiseau mystery, but I did felt I got to know about Greg Sestero.