Monday, March 19, 2018


I enjoyed the movie The Disaster Artist, about how Tommy Wiseau made The Room.  I figured I should read the book of the same name to see what really happened.

The movie was released in 2003, and grew into a cult classic.  The book came out in 2013.  It's written by Greg Sestero--Tommy's friend who acts in The Room--with a lot of help from journalist Tom Bissell. The book features alternating chapters on the making of the film and the story of their friendship up to the point where Tommy writes the script of The Room.

The portrait of Wiseau surprised me.  The movie paints him as a goofy, talent-free dreamer.  The book is much harsher.  Tommy may be a dreamer who doesn't recognize his lack of talent, but he often comes across in the book as a monster.  Some of the time Sestero does seem to like Tommy, but most of the time Wiseau appears to be manipulative, creepy, truculent and just this side of a psychopath

The book also makes the shoot for The Room sound like a nightmare--grueling months made worse by Tommy's insistence on doing things his way, no matter how nonsensical.  Any suggestions to do things the rational way would be mocked or ignored.  And while Wiseau spent lavishly and wastefully on equipment, he would deny basic requests that the crew and actors would want (and would get on any other shoot).  It's no wonder two DPs walked out during production.

Also included is a sort of biography of Wiseau that Sestero put together, apparently from what little he was able to gather.  Tommy didn't and still doesn't like to talk about his personal life--where he's from, how old he is, how he seems to have so much money.  According to the best guess of the book, Wiseau was born in an Eastern European nation during the days of communism.  He was able to escape to France while still quite young, where they worked him like a dog.  He eventually got to the U.S. through connections, and after some years in New Orleans, made it to San Francisco, the place he really loved.

Tommy started selling trinkets on the street, worked tirelessly, and built up a multi-million dollar business (and changed his name to Tommy Wiseau).  After making the money, he tried--more than once--to be an actor.  He finally figured if Hollywood wouldn't take him, he'd force himself on show biz.  He financed his movie and, though it wasn't the Tennessee Williams-level drama he was hoping for, it was odd enough to garner an audience and has presumably made a profit by now.  Only in America.

Oddly, the film ends with Tommy and Greg attending the premiere.  Just as the curtain's going up we're done.  Books can't go on forever, but I would think the reader would want to know the reaction afterward, and how Tommy didn't give up and turned his film into an event.  Or does Sestero think there'll be a sequel?


Blogger مروة محمد said...

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5:52 PM, March 19, 2018  

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