The most delirious scriptwriter could never invent a character like Tommy Wiseau. With his eccentric speech and long, dyed-black hair, of indeterminate age, means or national origin, and pretty much devoid of any actual talent, he became one of the most renowned filmmakers of the new Millennium in 2003, as writer, producer, director, and star of The Room, universally acclaimed as the worst movie ever made. (Move over, Ed Wood.)
With that single act of abomination against the annals of cinema history, Wiseau has become the international poster boy for pursuing one's artistic vision — however crackpot it may be — in the face of all obstacles.
Wiseau is now such a legendary cult figure they've made a movie about him: The Disaster Artist, a giddy, lightly fictionalized adaptation of a non-fiction book about making The Room.
The book was co-written by Greg Sestero, Wiseau's friend and real-life co-star of The Room. The Disaster Artist is directed by James Franco, who also stars as Wiseau, in a performance of fascinating weirdness.
|Truth is weirder than fiction|
If the real Wiseau wasn't up there in the spotlight for all to see, Franco might be accused of excessive eccentricity, swanning around with a lazy, affected drawl, looking like a cross between Tiny Tim and Vlad the Impaler. But Franco also manages to expose the occasional raw nerve of a lost soul yearning to fit in.
In a San Francisco acting class, 1998, shy young student Greg Sesteros (nicely played by the director's brother, Dave Franco), is mesmerized by the chutzpah of fellow student Tommy Wiseau. Doing the "Stella!" scene from A Streetcar Named Desire, Tommy shrieks, rolls around on the floor, and literally climbs the walls. The rest of the class is stunned into horrified silence, but Greg has found a mentor.
When Tommy suggests they move together to L. A. to break into Hollywood, Greg is thrilled. Soon enough, they decide to make their own movie, Tommy hammering out a bunch of loosely-connected melodramatic crescendos disguised as a script.
Foreknowledge of The Room is not essential, but viewers interested in backstage Hollywood will get the most out of this cheery look at outsiders amok in the Hollywood dream factory.
(Read more in this week's Good Times)