James Franco is an interesting guy. From his deleted nude selfies and experimental poetry to his unexpected bar mitzvah at the age of 37, Franco lives a rather sporadic and intriguing life. So, it only seems right that he's making a film about the equally enigmatic Tommy Wiseau, director of The Room and king of the so-bad-it's-good genre.
Franco is playing Wiseau in his upcoming film The Disaster Artist, inspired by the best-selling book of the same name by one of The Room's stars, Greg Sestero. However, rather than just play the character on screen, Franco went a step further, as #TheDisasterArtist actor Jason Mantzoukas explains:
“Franco directed the whole movie in character as Tommy Wiseau."
While we would love to imagine Franco going the full length in his imitation, Mantzoukas did qualify this by stating:
“Well, I should amend that — he wasn’t in character as Tommy Wiseau, but once he started the day doing Tommy’s voice, he would spend the rest of the day doing the voice.”
Either way, it seems like this would've been a delight to witness. And, while this may just seem like something the charismatic actor did to draw some laughs, it could well have had a positive effect on the film. The movie has opened at film festivals to some outstanding reviews, so far receiving 92 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.
For anyone who has seen the cult classic #TheRoom, you'll know that, regardless of the bad writing, directing, horrifyingly long and awkward sex scenes and cheesy music, what makes this film so endearingly bad is the bizarre acting of writer, director, producer and lead star Wiseau.
Without his legendarily awful acting, The Room would be just another bad film, but Wiseau elevated it to cult classic status. So, it's therefore vital to the success of The Disaster Artist that Franco perfects his imitation of Wiseau, as this was what made him so notorious to begin with.
I'm certain that Franco's dedication to the role, in and out of filming — while sounding like a joke — was a significant factor in the success of his new film.
Is This Production Story Really So Odd?
While Franco method acting as Wiseau is odd, film crews have had to deal with some very strange things over the years:
- The meticulous master of suspenseful cinema, Alfred Hitchcock, tried to buy every single copy of the book Psycho so that his team would have no idea of how the novel ended, and would therefore retain the shock factor of the story.
- The crew of Ocean's 12 weren't allowed to look George Clooney in the eyes, something incredibly difficult if in close proximity to the actor.
- On the set of Lincoln, Daniel Day-Lewis stayed in character as the Great Emancipator between takes. Director Steven Spielberg told the New York Times, "I never asked Daniel about his process. I didn’t want to know."
So, while Franco's story may seem rather weird, in the grand scale of strange production stories, this is like a humorous side note. Check out The Room if you haven't been fortunate enough to have witnessed its majesty already.
The Disaster Artist premieres in theaters on December 1, 2017.