Fifteen years ago, Greg Sestero was a nineteen-year-old model/actor based in San Francisco. He took an acting class at a local theater, and it was there that he met Tommy Wiseau, a gregarious, larger-than-life fellow actor with aspirations to be the next Marlon Brando. Wiseau had written a book, a sprawling 600-page novel that he wanted to turn into a film. He asked Sestero to co-star in The Room, the movie based on his epic novel. And the rest, as they say, is history.
The Room became a cult phenomenon over the last decade, with midnight screenings popping up across the country and all over the world. As the film’s popularity grew, Wiseau, Sestero, and various other cast members have toured theaters around the globe to meet with fans and participate in Q & A sessions about their involvement in the film that Entertainment Weekly famously dubbed “the Citizen Kane of bad movies.”
Greg Sestero, inspired by the runaway success of The Room and its loyal fans, has penned a book called The Disaster Artist (Simon and Schuster). The book details the making of the film, his unlikely friendship with the eccentric Wiseau, and the legions of fans that he’s met along the way.
Greg took some time to chat with us about The Disaster Artist on the eve of the book’s much-anticipated release.
Praxis: How does Tommy Wiseau feel about The Disaster Artist? Is he looking forward to its release?
Greg Sestero: Tommy’s been supportive of the book and seems to be relatively excited for it.
P: I interviewed your co-star Juliette Danielle a few years back about her experience making The Room. I found her to be very sweet, funny, and generous. I asked her to pick four of her Room castmates and describe them in five words or less. She said that you are “handsome, well-mannered, and classic.”
So now I’ll pose the same challenge to you: Describe Juliette and three other castmates of your choosing in five words or less.
Juliette (“Lisa”) — kind, thoughtful, funny, playful.
Philip Haldiman (“Denny”) — humorous, witty, pensive, indie.
Carolyn Minnott (“Claudette”) — classic, patient, loyal, good-hearted.
Dan Janjigian (“Chris R”) — energetic, smart, adaptable, innovative.
P: I read in another interview that The Disaster Artist took you about four years to write. What was that process like?
GS: Writing The Disaster Artist was a big challenge. I wanted to take a movie, lauded for its incompetence, and turn it into the unique and fascinating story I thought it was. I was fortunate to have a great co-writer in Tom Bissell. Together we came up with a narrative that allowed us to tell not only the story behind the making of The Room, but my unlikely friendship with Tommy. We recorded up to twenty-four hours of interview tape and turned those tapes into chapters. During all this I interviewed cast and crew members, went through hours of behind the scenes footage and even traveled to Europe and other places mentioned in the book. It took over my life for four years.
P: Did you always have literary ambitions?
GS: I wrote a screenplay when I was twelve and submitted it to John Hughes. Other than that, I always enjoyed writing but never thought I’d actually write a book.
P: With future acting roles in mind, I read that you’d like to do something totally different, like play a serial killer. I’m hoping you do something more along the lines of Mad Men. Or something quirky like Orange is the New Black.
GS: Both Mad Men and OITNB are smart and masterful shows. I’m definitely interested in going in that direction. The next project I’m shooting is a horror movie from the creators of 5 Second Films. It’s their first feature and will be a lot of fun. Comes out next Spring.
P: The Disaster Artist drops tomorrow, October 1. Anything else you’d like to say to the fans on the eve of the book’s release?
GS: The Disaster Artist proves that truth is stranger than fiction. And really, that anything is possible.
Greg Sestero is an actor, producer, and writer. He was born in Walnut Creek, California and raised between the San Francisco Bay Area and Europe. He is fluent in both French and English.
At the age of 17, Greg began his career in entertainment by modeling in Milan for such designers as Valentino and Armani. Upon returning to California, Greg went onto pursue acting and appeared in several films and television shows before co-starring in the international cult phenomenon The Room. Greg’s many passions include film, sports, nutrition, animals, and traveling .
Andie Nash is the author of Thanks, That Was Fun.