Brothers James and Dave Franco, co-stars of the upcoming movie The Disaster Artist, joined KPCC’s John Horn Saturday at Vulture Fest to talk about their new movie. Based on the creation of The Room, one of the most universally loved bad movies of all time, The Disaster Artist is a personal look at how far people will go to make their dreams come true.
Unlike his brother and pal Seth Rogen, James actually discovered The Room through Greg Sestero’s memoir about his experience filming the movie. The Disaster Artist lifts its title straight from Sestero’s book and gives a behind the scenes look at how the cult-favorite film was produced. About halfway through reading the book, James was so inspired that he knew this was a story he wanted to tell. Calling it a “universal story” about struggle and outsiders, he said the passionate tone of the book pulled him in and left him feeling moved.
“On the surface, this is a Hollywood story that was so bizarre. This is a character that’s so unique and in some ways ridiculous in his seeming lack of perspective of himself, how weird and thin his lies were about himself [….] He was obviously at least in his late 40s when he made the movie and he said he was in his 20s. Or, the scary mystery, of where the money came from. So, I knew on one level we would have a Hollywood story that is so unique, unlike any Hollywood story that would, you know, be interesting and fun to kind of recreate. On another level, then we had a story line that was so full of heart that we could make very sympathetic and relatable.”
At the heart of The Disaster Artist is an artist desperate to make his dream a reality. While The Room may be considered a comedy now, Wiseau intended for it to be a serious, dramatic movie. Certain lines were direct homages to his favorite dramatic movies and he even put the phrase “Tennessee Williams Style Drama” on the original poster. Having all the knowledge of how the movie was ultimately received, the Franco brothers could have made a movie that was mocking or mean, but they decided to make it a heartfelt, empathetic journey.
“As much as all of us don’t want to admit that we all have some Tommy Wiseau in us, I think we have more than we think,” reveals Dave.
Instead of leaning into parody, Dave calls it a “celebration of people who go after their dreams and don’t take no for an answer.” The Room may not have become the best picture winner Wiseau envisioned, but it has slowly earned a dedicated fanbase. Similar to Rocky Horror Picture Show, interactive, weekly screenings of the movie still take place across the country as fans come together to laugh, throw spoons and scream “you’re tearing me apart, Lisa!” Dave admitted to watching the film probably 25 times while James has seen it more than 50 times, including all of the outtakes.
“At a certain point if a movie is that watchable when can we start calling it a good movie?,” said Dave.