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I first became aware of The Room around 2006, when I realized I’d been seeing the same terrible billboard on Sunset for a while now. I did some digging, and found out it was a vanity film done by some weirdo foreign actor/director (how Tommy Wiseau never found NYFA is a mystery to me). I first had it described to me by one of the most aggressively hipsterish porn actors ever to work in adult, a guy who later gave me a burned DVD of the film.

When I finally sat down to watch it, I was, as many people are, mesmerized by how utterly, completely, perfectly terrible The Room is. At no point, not even for a second, is anything presented in it an acceptable approximation of filmmaking, a feat that is much harder to achieve than you’d imagine.

Look, I’m a film buff. I’ve seen a LOT of hysterically shitty movies… Plan 9 From Outer Space… The Creeping Terror… Batman v Superman… and I’ve seen a lot of attempts by people to make intentionally bad movies. Most of those fail because they miss the point: You can’t make a bad movie well. That might sound obvious, but just watch Tim Burton’s Ed Wood. In it, Johnny Depp, as the titular Wood, is a fast-talking used-car salesman of a filmmaker, utterly unconcerned about the merits of the movie he’s making.

I’ve talked at length about Ed to Bob Blackburn, the man responsible for managing the Ed Wood “estate.” The thing you must remember is Plan 9 was NOT  a throwaway film; that was Wood’s magnum opus. He put in the very best effort he could muster, and the result was one of the worst films ever made.

This leads us back to Tommy Wiseau. The Room is the best film Tommy is capable of making. The script, and his performance, are the pinnacle of his work. That’s how you get a magnificent apocalypse like The Room.

Fascinated, I later went to a screening at the Sunset 5. By this point, the weekly midnight shows had become a sold-out, Rocky Horror-style audience interaction cult phenomenon. Tommy was there, mumbled a few words before the show, and then sat in the back row to watch an entire audience mock his life’s work as if he was in on the joke. Tommy basked in the glow of thrown plastic spoons (it’s a thing… you had to be there…) as if they were accolades; as if he was in on the joke.

Of course, he wasn’t.

In a couple weeks, James Franco’s film, The Disaster Artist, which tells the story of The Room‘s creation, opens in theaters. It’s supposed to be great, but before I go watch a bunch of people — all of whom are much prettier, much more successful, and much more talented than the people they’re portraying — re-enact the great farce, I wanted to read the Greg Sestero book the film is based on.

Sestero is as talented an author as he is an actor, which is (to be kind) mediocre. In writing Tommy Wiseau’s unauthorized biography, the portrait Greg unwittingly paints of himself depicts a marginally talented, weak-willed, spineless, lazy and relatively unintelligent Hollywood pretty-boy. In other words, exactly the character he plays in the film. The events described, however, are every bit as chaotic, bizarre, and utterly flabbergasting as you’d imagine. The effect is a bit like reading a court transcript of testimony about the Hindenburg fire.

What really struck me, were the parallels to my life while working with Axel Braun. Now, I’ve often said that I never say anything about Axel behind his back that I wouldn’t say to his face. As proof, I offer the following screenshots:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I haven’t worked with Axel in years, so I have no clue how much his Wiseau-like tendencies have fared. I’d like to think I’ve stopped being anyone’s Greg Sestero.

We all have to grow up sometime.

 

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Sometimes, when I think of what that girl means to me, it’s all I can do to keep from telling her. — Reg Smythe, Andy Capp