The Disaster Artist
|Author||Greg Sestero, Tom Bissell|
|Publisher||Simon & Schuster|
|October 10, 2013|
|Media type||Print (hardcover and paperback), e-book, Audiobook|
|ISBN||1451661193 (hardback edition)|
The Disaster Artist is an award-winning 2013 non-fiction book written by Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell. Sestero reveals the troubled development and production of the 2003 cult film The Room while detailing his own struggles as a starving young actor and his relationship with the mysterious Tommy Wiseau. The book focuses on the difficulties and odd experiences Sestero had behind the scenes and his unlikely friendship with Wiseau. A film adaptation of the same name developed by Seth Rogen with James Franco directing, producing and starring as Tommy Wiseau along with Dave Franco as Greg Sestero premiered at South by Southwest on March 12, 2017 to a standing ovation.
Sestero, an aspiring actor, first encounters Wiseau in an acting class. Sestero is at first perplexed by Wiseau's over-the-top acting technique, his unusual physical appearance, his unidentifiable accent and his eccentric behavior, which includes a fascination with all things American and a refusal to discuss his past. At the same time, Sestero admires Wiseau's 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.
As Sestero slowly accrues more acting credits and makes other friends, Wiseau grows jealous and schemes to earn similar acknowledgement (such as earning a SAG card by producing and starring in a commercial for a company he himself owned), 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 performance and becomes obsessed with creating a movie just as emotionally powerful. The result is the screenplay for The Room, which includes a character, Mark, named after actor Matt Damon (whose name Wiseau had misheard).
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: Wiseau's camera set-up requires two full crews to operate, actors and crew storm off the set, scripts are rewritten in the middle of scenes, sets are broken down only to be rebuilt and re-shot the following day, and at the last possible moment, Wiseau convinces Sestero to join the crew as one of the principal actors, in spite of the role already having been cast. By the end of shooting, the cast and crew, convinced that the film will never be seen, lose their enthusiasm, resulting in lackluster performances and technical blunders that are never corrected.
Sestero screens a rough cut of the film for his friends and 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 the power—and danger—of unconditional belief in one's dreams.
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.
In March 2014, The Disaster Artist won for Best Non-Fiction on Bookish Oscars.
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".
- Ruland, Jim (September 27, 2013). "Worst movie ever? 'The Disaster Artist' explores 'The Room'". Los Angeles Times.
- Dave McNary. "Dave Franco Joining James Franco in Film Based on ‘The Room’". Variety. Retrieved 6 December 2015.
- "Listen To Greg Sestero's Awesome Tommy Wiseau Impression In This 'Disaster Artist' Audioclip". The Huffington Post. 27 May 2014. Retrieved 6 December 2015.
- THR Staff (23 November 2014). "Hollywood Reporter Wins Best Publication, Website at National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Awards". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 6 December 2015.