The Disaster Artist
Front cover of first edition
|Publisher||Simon & Schuster|
|October 10, 2013|
|Media type||Print (hardcover and paperback), e-book, Audiobook|
|ISBN||1451661193 (hardback edition)|
The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made is a 2013 non-fiction book written by Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell. Sestero details the troubled development and production of the 2003 cult film The Room, his own struggles as a young actor, and his relationship with Room director Tommy Wiseau.
19-year-old Greg Sestero, an aspiring actor struggling with confidence, first encounters Tommy Wiseau in an acting class held by Jean Shelton in San Francisco. Sestero is at first perplexed by Wiseau's over-the-top acting technique, his unusual physical appearance, his mysterious accent and his eccentric behavior, which includes a fascination with American culture and a refusal to discuss his past. At the same time, Sestero admires Wiseau's boldness and his genuine enthusiasm for both life and acting. The two form an odd but affectionate bond as Sestero begins to learn of the many contradictions of Wiseau's personality.
Sestero signs with talent agent Iris Burton; as he slowly accrues more acting credits and makes other friends, Wiseau grows jealous, schemes to earn similar acknowledgement (such as earning a SAG card by producing and starring in a commercial for a company he himself owned), and threatens to evict him from the Los Angeles apartment he is loaning to him, leading Sestero to become uncomfortable with their relationship. After viewing The Talented Mr. Ripley for the first time, Sestero is struck by how similar Wiseau is to the title character and convinces him to see the film. However, instead of recognizing his own behavior, Wiseau is deeply impressed by the film and becomes obsessed with creating a work just as emotionally powerful. He subsequently disappears from Greg's life for nine months—during which their occasional phone calls frequently indicate that Wiseau had become depressed and suicidal—but he eventually returns to Los Angeles with a finished script for his film: The Room, which includes a character, Mark, named after Ripley actor Matt Damon (whose name Wiseau had misremembered).
Backed by a seemingly endless, mysterious supply of money, Wiseau develops, produces, directs and stars in The Room, despite having no knowledge of filmmaking. On-set relationships are a disaster: the story itself is nonsensical and full of plot threads that are never addressed or resolved (a matter complicated by Wiseau refusing to give anyone a full copy of the script); Wiseau's camera set-up requires two crews to operate, actors and crew storm off the set, dialogue and blocking are constantly tweaked, sets are dismantled only to be rebuilt and re-shot the following day, and at the last possible moment, Wiseau convinces Sestero to play Mark in spite of the role already having been cast. By the end of shooting, Sestero, along with the rest of the cast and crew, become convinced that the film will never be seen and lose their enthusiasm, resulting in lackluster performances, as well as technical and storytelling blunders that prove impossible to correct in post-production. The production also takes its toll on Sestero's relationship with his girlfriend, who breaks up with him after the Los Angeles portion of the shoot ends; as a means of lifting Sestero's morale, Wiseau writes additional scenes for them to perform during second unit filming in San Francisco, which runs considerably smoother. These recollections are occasionally interspersed with "fantastical, sad, self-contradictory stories" about Wiseau's conflicted past, which apparently includes such experiences as being ridiculed for his interest in America while growing up in an unidentified Eastern Bloc country, being threatened with death by sadistic French policemen, and quietly progressing from a yo-yo and toy bird salesman to a retail and real estate tycoon, which serve to highlight his motivations for attempting to enter the film industry.
Shortly after filming ends, Wiseau gives Sestero a rough cut of the film as a parting gift. Sestero screens it for his family, who are enthralled by its bizarre ineptitude. Their reaction turns out to be prophetic when, eight months later, Wiseau secures a release for the film, beginning its cult reputation as "the Citizen Kane of bad movies". The book ends with Sestero's meditation on how Wiseau's handling of The Room's creation demonstrates the power (and danger) of unconditional belief in one's dreams.
A film adaptation of the same name, directed, co-produced by and starring James Franco as Wiseau and Dave Franco as Sestero, premiered at South by Southwest on March 12, 2017, and was released in the United States on December 1, 2017. It won Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy for James Franco at the Golden Globe Awards and received an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay.
In May 2014, an audiobook version of The Disaster Artist was released by Tantor Audio, with Sestero reading the story. Sestero's impression of Wiseau in the audiobook has received praise from critics, including The Huffington Post and Publishers Weekly.
On November 23, 2014, The Disaster Artist won for Best Non-Fiction at the National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Awards ceremony in Los Angeles. The judges praised the book, stating "The Disaster Artist is not only a hell of a good read, it will make a great film if ever adapted. It's equal parts Ed Wood, American Hustle and demented Citizen Kane—with a dash of Monty Python thrown into the mix".
On February 11, 2015, The Disaster Artist (Audiobook) was nominated for Best Humor Audiobook at the Audie Awards, and was narrated by author Greg Sestero. The awards ceremony was held May 28, 2015 in New York City.
On January 23, 2018, The Disaster Artist was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay at the 90th Oscars.
- Ruland, Jim (September 27, 2013). "Worst movie ever? 'The Disaster Artist' explores 'The Room'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 12, 2017.
- Hartsell, Carol (May 27, 2014). "Listen To Greg Sestero's Awesome Tommy Wiseau Impression In This 'Disaster Artist' Audioclip". HuffPost. Retrieved December 6, 2015.
- "20th Annual Audie finalists announced in thirty categories" (PDF). Audio Publishers Association. February 11, 2015. Retrieved October 12, 2017.
- Gallucci, Kelly (March 3, 2014). "Oscar-Style Nominations For Our Favorite Books of 2013". Bookish. Retrieved October 12, 2017.
- "2014 Winners - 7th National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Awards" (PDF). Los Angeles Press Club. 2014. Retrieved October 12, 2017.