#INTERVIEW: DAVE FRANCO, PAUL SCHEER + ARI GRAYNOR ON “THE DISASTER ARTIST”
Heralded as the “worst movie ever made”, 2003’s THE ROOM starring, written and directed by Tommy Wiseau has gained Cult Classic status, selling-out screenings on the midnight circuit even to this day. Intended originally as a gripping Drama, the Film is seen as the inverse. Premiering this September at TIFF ’17, THE DISASTER ARTIST is an Adaptation of The Room star Greg Sestero‘s 2013 Memoir of the same title. James Franco directs and stars in the Film as Wiseau in one of the year’s most-talked-about performances. In fact if his Gotham Award for Best Actor earlier this week is any indication, he and the Film will be a major force Awards Season. Truly you don’t need even to have seen The Room to get The Disaster Artist, but this Adaptation gives us a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at how The Room was made. Don’t think of the Film as a Parody, it is a love letter to Wiseau.
We had the pleasure of chatting with stars Ari Graynor (Juliette Danielle/Lisa), Paul Scheer (Raphael Smadja, Director of Photography) and Dave Franco (Greg Sestero/Mark) about making delightfully-funny The Disaster Artist, this Holiday’s most-unlikely feel-good Movie.
Their own connections to THE ROOM
Franco: “The Room is a relatable story about two guys after dream and not taking ‘no’ for an answer. The challenge from the beginning is how you get people interested who haven’t heard of The Room. There is a universal story underneath it all.”.
Graynor: “I’d heard about it for years but hadn’t seen it until James texted me about being in it. I watched it alone in my apartment and was screaming and grabbing at imaginary arms. Can you believe this? I had wondered how this will be for people who don’t know it. It doesn’t matter if you’re not one bit familiar with The Room. It’s really a behind-the-scenes look at the fulfillment of so many people’s dreams, which is what if we get to make a Movie and hope it’s the best thing in the world. It’s about dreams.”.
Scheer: “It’s kinda like a drug, where you ask your friends, ‘Hey ever heard of this thing? No? Let’s watch it!’. At first it’s kinda weird and as soon as you’re done and your first reaction after seeing it is you want to share it with someone else. It’s something you need to tell the world about.”.
“The Disaster Artist works as a Prequel and a Sequel. If you’ve never heard of it, it’s a great intro and if you’ve seen it already, it’s an amazing side of the story you’ve never seen.”.
Greatest challenges re-creating THE ROOM
Graynor: “Meticulously recreating scenes from The Room is one of the toughest thing I’ve done in my career. It was such a specific acting talent. It wasn’t about doing bad acting, it was about trying to match the rhythm of this Movie that makes no sense. We would be studying on the iPad these clips harder than we were studying for the SATs to get these moves right. And that was one of the most fun and challenging things I’ve ever done!”.
Franco: “Greg is a subtle, complicated character. You want the audience to understand why he’s so drawn to bizarre individual (Tommy). I met with Greg several times before we began filming and I asked him if The Room could be any good. And he kept saying ‘no’, but there’s something in his inflection I don’t believe. As a young actor you’re just excited to be on a movie set so you come in with blind ambition and have to believe this thing could be good.”.
Scheer: “It’s hard to make it work. Like Tennesse Williams through Google Translate. How do you make this work? These actors did their best job with what they were given. It’s like the Corn Husk Dress Challenge on Project Runway... it’s still a corn husk dress. You’re not gonna get cornsilk.”.
Tommy Wiseau‘s reaction to The Disaster Artist
Franco: “Tommy decided he didn’t want to see it until premiered at SXSW. He was watching amongst 1,000 people who were also watching him watch his own crazy story on-screen. We figured he should like our Movie because we humanize him. It’s a celebration of Tommy, but that being said, who knows how he’s gonna react because he’s Tommy. We didn’t give him a mic at the Q&A, so when we went offstage, we asked what him what he thought. He’s famous for saying that Greg‘s book is only 40% accurate and he said this Film was 99.9% accurate.”.
Graynor: “What’s the .1% missing then you wonder? He told James, ‘I think you need to talk to DP about the light!’.
Scheer: “Tommy has no money value in Greg‘s book, that’s why he didn’t give it 100%!”.
WORKING WITH JAMES FRANCO
Franco: “There’s so many cameos and people would pop-in for a day. We let them know they’re not being directed by James Franco but by Tommy Wiseau. I love working with my brother. He’s a great actor, director and puts a lot of time into casting the right people. He lets actors trust their instincts and to do their own thing.”. “When you feel more safe, you’re more willing to take risks and try things you don’t normally try.”.
Scheer: “We’d work with six-page scenes, one long take. It allows you to get into a rhythm you don’t normally get. To get a real rhythm and know we’re not stopping for five pages, it doesn’t happen that much.”.
Graynor: “Trust was biggest thing. It was like really trusting that people could be responsible for themselves and the Movie and improvise, play and throw each other ideas. It felt like being at movie camp. It was very playful.”.
Graynor: “You have to put passion into everything. Your expectations will always be off somehow. With The Room, to see the journey it has gone on when it first got shown in a theatre to qualify for Academy Awards to becoming a midnight cult hit and now be at one of the greatest Film Festivals in the world. You just never know what’s gonna happen!”.
Scheer: “Tommy didn’t collaborate. When you have someone so singularly-focused and not listening to DPs nor actors, anyone. Film is a collaborative medium. Don’y get so full of yourself in your vision that you’re not asking other people for their help.”.
Elevation Pictures release THE DISASTER ARTIST Friday, December 1, 2017 in Toronto and Friday, December 8, 2017 across Canada.
(Photo/video credit: Mr. Will Wong)