November-December 2021 - COVER STORY: Greg Sestero
Greg Sestero is a prime example of what happens when an actor isn’t afraid of taking every opportunity that comes in front of him. Star of “The Room'' and author of the award-winning book, The Disaster Artist, which was adapted into an award-winning film, Greg sat down with us to talk about his experience on the cult film and what lessons those in the industry can learn.
When did your interest in acting begin?
I saw the movie “Home Alone” at age 12. I went home and started writing a sequel, “Home Alone: Lost in Disney World.” I wrote a role for myself, opposite Macaulay Culkin, and set the movie in Disney World. I then tracked down 20th Century Fox and mailed it to John Hughes — truly believing it was going to happen. I received a package back from Hughes. My screenplay was being returned, but a handwritten note for the man himself took me by surprise: “Believe in yourself, have patience, and always follow your heart.” I knew then I had found my calling. I finally got to meet Macaulay Culkin in 2018 and was a guest on his podcast Bunny Ears. He loved the story and I got to visit Disney World thereafter so my plan worked out!
What was it about Tommy Wiseau that intrigued you?
I watched Tommy perform a Shakespearean sonnet in a basement acting class in 1998. It was the funniest thing I'd ever seen, but also captivating in a strange way. His accent was so unique as was his obliviousness. I had to find out who this man was, so I approached him to do a scene together.
What were your thoughts when you heard the concept of The Room?
Tommy and I were roommates in 2000. Then he disappeared for 9 months, and returned with a finished screenplay entitled THE ROOM. We met up on May 7th, 2001, where he had me read it at Canter's Diner in Los Angeles. Each page was so rivetingly wrong that it was brilliant. Every character spoke like him. It was so Tommy. He explained that my character "would be called Mark, like this guy Mark Damon," after The Talented Mr Ripley. I wasn't planning on actually acting in The Room, but the night before filming, Tommy made me an offer I could not refuse.
How accurate was the experience on “The Room” set shown in The Disaster Artist?
The Disaster Artist book is a lot darker than the film adaptation. I think our friendship in the book is a lot more honest. For example, I never planned on acting in The Room, and did not believe in the film. But in the adaptation, it appears that "Greg'' is gung-ho and wants to do it. I never expected anyone to see the film. Also, I was never supposed to be in Malcolm in the Middle. Although being the biggest Breaking Bad fan, it was pretty incredible to meet both Bryan Cranston and Bob Odenkirk on set filming The Disaster Artist.
What was it about this film and the experience that made you adamant to see it through?
I knew Tommy was always misunderstood and wanted to be an actor more than anything. I was someone that was able to help him get The Room made, since I understood him and could communicate his actions to the outside world. I wanted to help him as a friend, since he offered me support when no one else did.
You’ve managed to create a successful spin from your experience on The Room. What are your future plans?
I also try to see things through a positive lens. I believed the story behind the making of The Room could make a great book, so I wrote The Disaster Artist. Moving forward, I'm excited to make new films. In 2020, I wrote, directed and starred in a new horror-thriller film MIRACLE VALLEY which comes out in 2022. Breaking Bad inspired me to tell stories based in the desert, so this film tackles an Arizona cult that traffics blood instead of blue meth. Next up in 2022, is a U.F.O abduction movie set in White Sands, New Mexico and Roswell.
What was the greatest lesson you learned from Tommy?
Go out and get your movie made. He used to always tell me "grab your own camera, and make your own movie." He also told me "I need to show my ass to sell this movie." I will leave that one on the table for now.
Did you ever find out how he made his money?
He sold A LOT of denim jeans back in the day. So many pairs, he could leave up a ROOM billboard in Hollywood for 5 years. Or...maybe Tommy is a vampire, who knows.