This whole ironic, a film that’s so-bad-it’s-good thing doesn’t appeal to me. However, I made an exception with The Room, and I’m glad I did—it’s fascinating in its otherworldliness. The Room has had so much coverage elsewhere I won’t go into detail about it, I’ll just say that its writer-director-producer-star Tommy Wiseau is…a force of nature.
Co-written by Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell, the book The Disaster Artist is about Sestero’s time filming The Room and his attempts to become a Hollywood star.
NGAF: in filming The Room, all Wiseau cared about was getting the film finished. He openly fired and criticised cast and crew if they didn’t adhere to his vision. That most who worked on the film despised him, and that the end result is a train-wreck, doesn’t take away from the fact that he achieved his goal.
Wiseau is a wealthy man. Some would say that money, not focus, was the key to The Room being made (the film reportedly cost $6 million, a good chunk of that presumably being from Wiseau’s coffers). The source of his money has never been confirmed, but I can’t help but think that his not giving a fuck attitude would help him amass such a fortune.
Wiseau doesn’t come over as completely bulletproof in The Disaster Artist. Yes, he’s heartless with the cast and crew of The Room, but he gets jealous of Sestero’s success, is concerned about his appearance, of trying to seem older than he is. There’s a sympathetic side of him—one he seems to try but fail to expose in The Room—that comes across in the book.
You can see Bissell’s fingerprints on the book—the alternating chronology, turns of phrase like “biblical significance” and “the compressed density of experimental prose”—yet it doesn’t read like purely his work. Bissell maintains that Sestero didn’t just tell his story for Bissell to write up, and that seems proven in the writing.
Would you rather:
a) Have your vision brought to life, but for you and it to be loudly mocked? Or
b) Never have you vision actualised?
I like to think I’d prefer the former, that knowing I’d achieved my goal would be worth the criticism and public humiliation. But I don’t know if I’m that strong a person; maybe I’d prefer failure to embarrassment.
Youth: In the book Sestero is young and carefree enough to take chances, like trying to break into Hollywood and to befriend this weird, older, vampire-looking dude (and move into his flat, and go on road trips with him). Wiseau repeatedly tries to recapture his own youth, often through his friendship with Sestero.