How does someone most known for playing a role in what is widely considered one of the best “worst films ever made” find a way to top such an accolade? By writing a memoir about the movie, and have it end up becoming an Academy Award nominated-screenplay.
That’s how Greg Sestero, author of “The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made,” envisioned his story as time went on. The more people watched and loved seeing the film, things became clear: its backstory had to be revealed.
“That was really my goal, to take this all the way,” said Sestero in a phone interview, “from something that was considered terrible, to the Oscars.”
Sestero calls “The Room” a crazy experience he endured back in 2002-2003 when he decided to leave the Bay Area to pursue his acting career with a now longtime friend, the film’s director, writer and producer, Tommy Wiseau. He thought no one would see it.
Little did he know that by 2009 the movie would garner a cult following, becoming a hit in the world of “so bad it’s good” cinema, playing at midnight screenings nationwide. Now he gets to travel around the world and do signings at places like Copperfield’s Books.
Originally from Walnut Creek, Sestero is looking forward to coming back to a “great little city” in Petaluma on Friday, Feb. 23, where he’ll discuss the movie tie-in edition of his novel. Discussions of the film adaptation, directed by and starring James Franco, started three weeks after the book was published.
Franco came to the story through the book, seeing it as a film and a lot of himself in Wiseau. He wrote a review on the Vice website about how universal it is: every artist faces rejection, whether they believe in themselves or not, and the power of following through on dreams.
“I like the film adaptation,” said Sestero, “Franco was the perfect person to play Tommy. Another interesting aspect is he had never seen ‘The Room’ — he read the book first.”
Sestero said his goal with the book was to write a story that people could appreciate without watching “The Room.”
Sestero adamantly believed the book could stand alone as a nonfiction novel. He wanted a gripping, bizarre tale about what it’s like to chase Hollywood dreams and his unique friendship with Wiseau.
“If a story’s great, you shouldn’t have it rely on something else,” said Sestero. “People wanted a making-of book, but I wanted this to be the ‘In Cold Blood’ for filmmaking.”
With the positive response of “The Disaster Artist,” he went on to further projects, including his new film “Best F(r)iends” coming out March 30. Sestero reunites with Wiseau on screen, the first time in 15 years since “The Room” came out.
The film split into two parts, both of which come out this year, and is inspired by true events that took place not too far from Petaluma, off the California coast. While the process was difficult, Sestero hopes to continue writing more books and screenplays in the future.
“It was based on this road trip we took up near Bodega Bay,” said Sestero. “That inspired the story, which Tommy thought I was driving him up to this area to try to kill him.”