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Actor pens book about life inside 'The Room'

“The Room” is regarded as one of the worst movies of all time, but it has become a cult favorite still playing in theaters a decade after its release. Greg Sestero, who acted in the movie, has penned a tell-all, “The Disaster Artist,” about how and why the movie went so wrong.
by Ken Raymond Published: October 13, 2013

Some movies are so bad people love them even though they shouldn't.

We're not talking about guilty pleasures here. Who cares if you like “Armageddon” or wish there'd been more “Smokey and the Bandit” movies?

No, we're talking about the worst of the worst — movies that somehow got written, cast, produced, filmed and distributed even though they deserved a mercy killing. We're talking about films that make “Sharknado” seem like “Casablanca.”

In particular, we're talking about “The Room” (2003), a cult favorite, described by Entertainment Weekly as “the ‘Citizen Kane' of bad movies.”

How bad is it? You should watch it and find out for yourself. Then you should read actor Greg Sestero's tell-all memoir, “The Disaster Artist,” to find out how and why everything about the movie went so wrong.

The hilarious and surprisingly touching book — co-authored by Tom Bissell — tells two intertwined stories separated in time. The first is the unlikely friendship that developed between Sestero and eccentric millionaire Tommy Wiseau; the second is a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film that resulted from their friendship.

“Ever since I made this movie and started getting seen by people, I've been asked why,” Sestero said in a phone interview. “What was its purpose? Why were you in it? What were your intentions? I felt as if I had to take ownership and explain the story behind it.”

Sestero and Wiseau met at a San Francisco acting class about 15 years ago. Sestero was 19 and handsome, a runway model who hoped to transition into films. Wiseau, mysterious and unique, was determined to be the next Marlon Brando, even though he was, by all measures, a terrible actor.

“It was kind of weird,” Sestero said. “But I was trying to pursue this, and it felt as if Tommy was the only other person on this life raft with me out in the middle of the ocean.”

Wiseau nurtured Sestero's budding career but grew ever more mysterious, claiming to be a vampire and refusing to talk about his past while giving vague explanations for his seemingly bottomless well of money.

Wiseau fretted over his stalled ambitions. No one called him about TV or movie roles. No agents wanted to work with him.

So Wiseau decided to make his own movie. He wrote, directed, produced and starred in “The Room.”

The production suffered an abundance of problems. Cast members and crew were hired and fired seemingly at random. Wiseau consistently arrived on set hours late, blaming his tardiness on meetings with nonexistent producers. He refused to let anyone see the entire script except Sestero, who was certain there would never be a finished film.

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by Ken Raymond
Book Editor
Ken Raymond is the book editor. He joined The Oklahoman in 1999. He has won dozens of state, regional and national writing awards. Three times he has been named the state's "overall best" writer by the Society of Professional Journalists. In...
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