We’ve been very, very quiet about our upcoming Feature Film, “Best Friends” (widely misquoted as ‘Best F(r)iends) starring Tommy Wiseau and Greg Sestero. Today the Hollywood Reporter got the exclusive for our movie, and it’s been picked up by other outlets, such as The Rolling Stone and Entertainment Weekly.
It is such a pleasure to work with Greg and Tommy. Greg came to me with a story in his mind, and a great pair of characters to be played by Tommy and Greg. When you see the film, you’ll see why it’s perfect for them. Greg plays a lonely drifter, whose life is spared by a stroke of luck. Having narrowly escaped death, he’s still broke; so he drifts through the streets of LA as a panhandler. His life changes when he is approached by a lonely mortician in a hearse, (Tommy) who offers him a job.
This “job” involves making a silicone mask of Greg’s face to restore dignity to cadavers whose faces are badly disfigured. Tommy’s character (Harvey) finds it unacceptable for them to be interred in such a humiliating condition. So he makes a mask of Greg’s face and puts it on a corpse. As “Harvey” sews the lips shut, Greg’s character (Jon) sees opportunity in the glimmer of a solid gold tooth on the dead guy.
I’ve known Greg for over a year, and we’ve always been in touch since that fateful day I was introduced to his insanely funny book, “The Disaster Artist”. Seriously one of the funniest books I had ever read. I left a note on his Facebook wall saying that I loved it, he wrote me back, and we started speaking constantly about projects we were developing. Greg has read my five previous screenplays, (this collaboration being my sixth) and I was always glad to be a sounding board for the ideas he was working with. He also read my 2009 memoirs, “The Accidental Millionaire“. It’s not often you can begin a friendship by reading each other’s memoirs!
When Greg asked me if I wanted to direct his project, I told him that I’d like to meet with Tommy first, to see if he liked me. Greg and I had already finished the script for the trailer, so when we all met at the Hotel Casa Del Mar, I got to see potential in their table reads. I was all in. Fortunately, Tommy liked me, so we were three.
Greg is a far better actor than one would be led to believe watching “The Room” – and Tommy is a captivating presence. One cannot help but be be mesmerized by Tommy. Put the two together, side-by-side, and there is a magical chemistry that I’m lucky enough to experience in person. They’re unlikely friends, for sure, but they’ve been down a long and amazing path together with memories and experiences to be cherished.
On set, Tommy is hard-working. He is not a diva. He takes direction well, and he would stay all night long to do whatever I asked of him, although we rarely did more than three takes. I had him laying face down on the beach sand in Malibu as I gathered smelly seaweed and kelp to pile all around him. It smelled like sewage, but he was such a great sport about it. I wanted to see the waves crashing behind him, but it was midnight, so we had to go ultra high ISO. The way that scene was shot was to use a Sony a7s2 and have an iPhone light a reflector overhead. Eventually an unanticipated wave washed up and soaked Tommy. He didn’t even get upset or whiny. He got into fresh clothes, and our film crew went to a restaurant in Malibu where Tommy had us in stitches.
I wish all of you millions of fans of “The Room” could see how Tommy is on set. You’d be as surprised as I was, especially after having read, “The Disaster Artist”. Tommy does not interject his opinions or try insist that I do things his way. Honestly it was a pleasure working with Tommy. And as I’ve gotten to know him better, I’ve been able to see a simplicity that others see as complex. He is a kind person, who just wants people to be happy and kind to each other. Think about “The Room”. When you think about whatever the message might be, there is an innocent yearning to ask why people can’t get along, or be kind to each other.
“The Room” has a fan base undeniably unlike any other. When I went to see the screening of our trailer at Landmark’s Sunshine Cinema in New York, Tommy had sold out four theaters Saturday at midnight (over a thousand people, at midnight!). As I followed him from theater to theater, people in the lobby actually genuflected before him. Each completely packed theater (how often are shows sold out these days – fifteen years after release?) were filled with wildly cheering audiences. Greg is currently in Copenhagen on a massive European tour of screenings… to sold out shows.
As for Greg, he is a wonderful producing partner. (Our Production Company is “HiMark Entertainment, LLC” – get it?) He is a savvy veteran when it comes to the business of promotion in Hollywood. He got the exclusive to “Hollywood Reporter”, without a press agent or PR firm. Greg has no ego. He’s not about positioning, or power, or money. He, like I, are just in search of a good story to tell, with a desire to tell it in the most entertaining way possible.
I often joke to him that his next book to followup “The Disaster Artist” should be, “The Redemption Artist”, and he jokes back that my next book to follow “The Accidental Millionaire” should be, “The Accidental Filmmaker”.