The Dave Franco-file
If you told us this time last year that a film both directed and starring James Franco, with roles for his brother Dave and comedy bud Seth Rogen, would be subject to faint murmurs of Oscars hype, we’d have told you to get outta town! (Or something equally 2017.) But this is 2018, and there’s a talking satsuma in the White House, and blah blah, so come the next Academy Awards, you wouldn’t rule it out.
Are you surprised by the initial response the film has received?
Somewhat, yes! When we first started making it, we knew that there would be a chance that no one would ever see it, because it was based on The Room, which most people have never even heard of. From the get go, we loved the room and the story around it. But now it has been screened at a few festivals [including DIFF] and we are happy that people are understanding the optimism of the story.
Sure, it would have been easy to make a film where you’re poking fun at The Room and Tommy Wiseau…
Absolutely, and that was never our intention. We wanted to make a movie that celebrated Tommy and people like him who go and pursue their dreams. That is something that both [director] James [Franco] and I both can relate to. We also both struggled a lot at the beginning of our careers as actors, and as weird as Tommy seems, I think we both have a lot more Tommy in us than we would like to admit.
When did you first watch The Room?
My brother texted me about 4-5 years ago, saying that I had to watch it because we had to make our own version of it. I was working in Boston, and watched it in a hotel room by myself… which is not the way to watch
The Room! You need to watch it in a group, so you can turn to other people and say “what the f**k is going on!?”. So, after my first viewing, I finished feeling unsettled and confused.
Soon after that I attended a midnight screening, and the audience were cheering and screaming at the screen, and really turned it into a comedic event. That’s when I understood the cult status of the film, and have now seen The Room about 25 times. I have seen it more than any other film in my life.
Two vastly different experiences!
Totally. I then read the book [which The Disaster Artist was based off] about Greg Sestero’s friendship with Tommy. Now the book is as weird as you’d expect, but it is surprisingly heartfelt and strangely inspiring. In terms of tone, we looked at films such as Boogie Nights, where you have a bunch of strange characters but everyone is playing it as real as possible rather than setting up a bunch of jokes. It really is a story of a friendship more than anything else.
So why is Greg friends with Tommy?
I spoke to Greg a lot about this. He said that when he was starting out as an actor everyone around him told him that he wasn’t good enough. Then he met Tommy, who was his friend and believed in him, and as a young actor that sort of support is invaluable.
The struggle I had playing Greg was that throughout the film he keeps making really poor decisions! It was my job to try and justify to the audience why he was making those decisions and going on this journey with this crazy person.
What was your first impression of Tommy?
We met Tommy face-to-face about halfway through production, and we were a little nervous because in the book his is sometimes portrayed badly, so we didn’t know how he would be. But he showed up, and was almost shy about it. I think he was happy because he could see that we weren’t making fun of him and were treating his story with respect.
Were you tempted to keep the blonde hair?
No way! Half of the film I was wearing a wig, while the other half is my own hair dyed what I can only describe as “pee yellow”, which I had for about two months. Then about nine months later I had to dye it back for some reshoots! Thankfully, after that I shaved it all off and I am praying I never have to go blonde again.
Your wife Alison Brie is an actor, you brother is too. Do you guys all just sit around the watching films?
We watch everything. A lot of TV and movies!
Do you like watching ‘bad’ films?
Yes and no. I don’t have a list of sh*t films that I need to watch, but my guilty pleasure is Point Break. Although, I think Point Break is a masterpiece! Keanu in that film is extremely watchable, and the film has one of the best chase scenes! The overall concept of surfers robbing banks dressed as dead presidents is just great. I could watch that film over and over. There was actually a sequence in The Disaster Artist, where my character, Greg, acts out the whole of Point Break, but it was cut from the final version.
So, the next step is you and James remaking the re-make of Point Break?
They just remade a couple of years ago! I reckon we’ve got to give it at least a decade before we can touch it. But yeah, if you can wait that long!