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“The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside ‘The Room’, The Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made” Book Review

disaster-artistWhat a title, right? It’s aptly named, I can assure you.

The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, The Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made is the title of a book recently co-written and published by Greg Sestero, who co-starred in the bizarre cult hit film, The Room. If you want a full breakdown on the film, The Room, you can refer back to my article, The Best Worst Movies Of All Time – Part 1.

In a nutshell, The Room is a movie so awful – so offensive to the concept of film that it has become a cult sensation all across the world, inspiring sold out screenings to this day. The film’s writer, producer, and director, Tommy Wiseau, is a surreal man, about whom very little is known. Only that The Room is 100% his brainchild, and that the film’s $20 million budget came entirely out of his own pocket.

Sestero takes us behind the scenes of both the production of The Room, which by all accounts was as nightmarish as making a film can possibly, and of the origins of his friendship with the mysterious Tommy Wiseau. I have to say, if you’ve seen The Room, The Disaster Artist is enthralling. To know that someone on this planet put into existence a film of such low caliber, and to this day swears by it as the best film of all time begs all kinds of questions about his sanity. And while this book doesn’t directly answer any of them, we are treated to infinitely more of it.

The story switches back and forth chapter to chapter between a young Greg Sestero, timidly making his way through acting classes, auditions and his eventual big move to LA, and a much older Sestero, who is in over his head in a friendship with Wiseau and the production of The Room. The two stores move forwards at similar paces, and both are full of Wiseau weirdness throughout.

It’s funny to think about the production of something like The Room. Questions about Wiseau aside, you have to question the sanity of every single person associated with the project. Why on earth would they (A) waste their time on such an obviously awful film and concept, and (B) How are any of them alright with having their professional names attached to the project? Sure, Wiseau wrote, produced, directed, and starred in the thing, but any film is going to require creative input from other parties – a script supervisor, a cinematographer, a sound mixer. These people all help to shape the film. What the fuck were they doing?

The answer, it seems, was nothing. Tommy had his vision and he forcibly, childishly, hilariously, angrily, jokingly, and semi homo-erotically assumed complete control over ever single element of this film. The entire crew stayed on board with the project due to a combination of the fact that they were being paid well, and sheer morbid curiosity at how insane this man could be.

Now, that’s not to say that this book paints an all negative portrayal of Tommy Wiseau – not at all in fact. Tommy’s relationship with Greg, however unconventional and creepy at first, is ultimately one of friendly devotion. He lets Greg live in his apartment, he writes the co-lead role in his film for him – in fact, the part had been cast to another actor in pre-production, but on Day One of shooting Tommy decided that Greg simply had to play the role of Mark.

So what did Tommy do? He decided to pretend to film the other actor, and lie to the entire cast and crew about the “producers” (He was really the only producer) wanting to see Greg do the scenes as well, but that they wouldn’t be used. His plan was to go through all of filming like this… Needless to say, word got out almost immediately that Tommy was shooting without film, and the actor cast in the role of Mark was promptly let go.

I know, it sounds too bizarre, too stupid to be true. But it is. This book is one of the most engrossing works of non-fiction I’ve had the pleasure of reading, not only because it’s quite well written, but because it’s one of those stories where the truth is stranger than fiction in every sense.

Overall, for a fan of the The Room, or anyone who’s had the (dis)pleasure of seeing it, The Disaster Artist is an incredibly entertaining read. And a quick one. If you haven’t seen the film, the pleasure you’ll get out of reading this book after having viewed it is absolutely worth the two hours of confusion. I urge you to check it out.

Written by: Richard Reitzfeld

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  • Jon

    The budget was actually $6m, not $20m.

    • Richard Reitzfeld

      You’re right. It’s weird, up until a few days ago there were multiple sources online, including Wikipedia, that listed the budget as $20 million. They seem to have reverted to $6 million now though. Maybe $20 million was taking post-release marketing into account? Or maybe I was just hallucinating, it wouldn’t be the first time.