Interview: Greg Sestero, co-star of cult film ‘The Room’ & author of the ‘The Disaster Artist’

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Ahead of his appearance at Filmbase, Gemma Creagh talked to Greg Sestero, co-star of cult film The Room. Greg is also the best-selling author of the The Disaster Artist, a memoir of his time as an aspiring actor in Hollywood, leading to his bizarre friendship with the mysterious and iconoclastic director of The Room, Tommy Wiseau. The Disaster Artist garnered critical acclaim and commercial success with the book recently being released in the U.K by Little Brown and also adapted into the film, The Masterpiece by director James Franco.

 

First off, how did you meet Tommy Wiseau?

I met Tommy in acting classes in San Francisco. It was quite a conservative class. People were quite reserved. When Tommy went up there, he performed a Shakespearean sonnet that was so mind-blowing I thought, ‘I got to do a thing with this guy’. And so I approached him. That’s how we met.

So, you were obviously friends with him when he was working on The Room. How did you become involved?

We were roommates when he was writing. He always wanted to be an actor and Hollywood didn’t really  see his talents, so he decided to write his own screenplay. He wrote a part for me to be in it. At first, I was reluctant. Then the night before filming he made me an offer I couldn’t refuse – if I didn’t make the movie it would be the biggest mistake of my life.

With regards his writing process, how did he come up with his ideas?

I think he was inspired by his own personal stories and the way he sees life. He’s also very much into ’50s films, Tennessee Williams, Marlon Brando and James Dean – I think The Room was a culmination of all that and his perspective on life.

How involved were you in the filmmaking process itself?

I just pretty much helped to Tommy carry out his vision. It was his vision from the start and I was just there to support him. I never really wanted to change any aspect of it. I felt it would work a lot better for him if he just did it his way. I was just kind of there to pick up the pieces and make sure the whole thing went forward.

I know there were a lot of last-minute rewrites, what was the mood like onset?.

It was the first time making a movie so there was chaos and some dysfunction – and a lot of humour! A lot of things happened that were pretty funny, looking back. Ultimately, it was Tommy trying to make a movie his way and a bunch of people trying to understand that.

What was it like when it all blew up as a cult phenomenon?

I observed the film for a few years after it came out and film students picked it up and started spreading it. A few years later, I was living in Europe when the movie really blew up. I was stunned to know it was playing in places like New York and London to sold-out crowds. It was intriguing for me, despite being in the movie, just how people were responding to this vision that Tommy had of this drama. They loved it for all these different reasons. Soon enough I was attending screenings with Tommy. I came to Dublin and was in London – there’s something about the film that people love.

One of those things that struck me about The Room is that there’s authenticity there; there is real emotion behind it.

There really is something there. I think that it’s the fact that he was really trying to send a message through his film. People can see that and they respond to that.

Let’s talk about your book The Disaster Artist – how did that come about?

With the cult success and the touring, I was getting a lot of questions about how I got involved in the film and my relationship with Tommy. I thought the best way to tell the story was for me to go to the beginning and share what a crazy and surreal journey it was meeting Tommy, our unique friendship and how it led to the both of us stumbling our way into this cult success; what it is like to have a dream and try to pursue it against all odds. I thought there’s a lot more there than just the making of a cult movie. My goal with it was to really share something that had heart and humour as well.

So how did the James Franco ‘The Masterpiece’ adaptation come about from your book?

James read it and wrote a terrific article in his column about what he liked both about the book and The Room. He got it and wanted to turn it into a film. I have been lucky enough to see a cut of the film and it’s really terrific. I’m just grateful that someone with James’ talent saw the message the book was sending.

Is it strange to see another actor play yourself as an actor playing a role in a film?

It was a pretty fascinating and surreal experience. But with the book I always saw it as a film, so I removed myself from myself at that time. It was more exciting than anything else. It’s taking your story and putting it in another dimension – it’s very freeing in a lot of ways… it’s no longer your story. It’s great therapy actually. I recommend it!

What can you tell us about the documentary you are screening on Tuesday here at Filmbase in Dublin.

It is a short documentary with interviews with all the actors about the making of the movie and it becoming a cult phenomenon, and the fans. It gives you a well-rounded perspective of what it was like to be inside The Room. Also, I’ll be doing a book reading and, hopefully, I’ll be showing a big surprise to the Dublin fans of something new.

Voicesonfilm in association with Filmbase and NUI Galway present The Disaster Artist: Inside The Room with Greg Sestero at Filmbase @ 7pm, Tuesday, 27th September 2016.

 

 

 

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Voicesonfilm in association with Filmbase presents The Disaster Artist : Inside The Room with Greg Sestero

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voicesonfilm in association with Filmbase and NUI Galway present The Disaster Artist : Inside The Room with Greg Sestero on 27th September at 19:00–22:00 at Filmbase.

 Greg is the co-star of cult film The Room and best-selling author of the The Disaster Artist, a memoir of his time as an aspiring actor in Hollywood, leading to his bizarre friendship with the mysterious and iconoclastic director of The Room, Tommy Wiseau.

 
The Disaster Artist garnered critical acclaim and commercial success with the book recently being released in the U.K by Little Brown and also adapted into the film, The Masterpiece by director James Franco. The film wrapped in February 2016 with brothers Dave and James Franco as Greg and Tommy, and a star-studded A-List ensemble cast featuring Seth Rogen, Zac Efron, Bryan Cranston, Sharon Stone, Bob Odenkirk, Hannibal Burress, Alison Brie, Zach Braff, Melanie Griffith, Josh Hutcherson, Jacki Weaver and many more.

This special event is a chance to see and hear Greg’s amazing experiences with an exclusive behind the scenes Making of The Room documentary, Disaster Artist reading, Q+A with leading director John Carney and have the chance to participate in a live reading of scenes from the original script of The Room – and much more.

This event is non-ticketed and everyone is welcome to attend on the night.

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voicesonfilm 4: Remembering Robin Wood

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voicesonfilm is an Open Access, co-curated videographic research initiative designed to record, format and share significant voices in the history and development of the medium and its study. With its intimate conversations, voicesonfilm brings you the history of filmmaking and analysis. Using direct interviews with filmmakers, historians and analysts, voicesonfilm offers the viewer the unique privilege of personal insight, comment, knowledge and memoir.

 

In this episode, Professor Charles Barr remembers the late, great film critic and educator Robin Wood.

 

 

 

 

Professor Barr will be in Dublin on the 27th May 2015 for two events at Filmbase:

 

The Irish launch of his recently-published book, co-authored with Dr. Alain Kerzoncuf, Hitchcock Lost and Found: The Forgotten Films. Click here for full details

&

‘Cultivating Film-makers’, an open panel discussion considering the contemporary face of Third Level Film education in Ireland. Click here for full details

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voicesonfilm 3: Movie versus Sight and Sound

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voicesonfilm is an Open Access, co-curated videographic research initiative designed to record, format and share significant voices in the history and development of the medium and its study. With its intimate conversations, voicesonfilm brings you the history of filmmaking and analysis. Using direct interviews with filmmakers, historians and analysts, voicesonfilm offers the viewer the unique privilege of personal insight, comment, knowledge and memoir.

In this episode, film scholar Professor Charles Barr describes the significant changes that took place in British film criticism during the early 1960s.

 

 

 

Professor Barr will be in Dublin on the 27th May 2015 for two events at Filmbase:

 

The Irish launch of his recently-published book, co-authored with Dr. Alain Kerzoncuf, Hitchcock Lost and Found: The Forgotten Films. Click here for full details

&

‘Cultivating Film-makers’, an open panel discussion considering the contemporary face of Third Level Film education in Ireland. Click here for full details

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voicesonfilm 2: ‘CinemaScope: Before and After’

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voicesonfilm is an Open Access, co-curated videographic research initiative designed to record, format and share significant voices in the history and development of the medium and its study. With its intimate conversations, voicesonfilm brings you the history of filmmaking and analysis. Using direct interviews with filmmakers, historians and analysts, voicesonfilm offers the viewer the unique privilege of personal insight, comment, knowledge and memoir.

In this episode, film scholar Professor Charles Barr recalls studying film at the Slade School of Fine Art under the tutelage of the great British film director Thorold Dickinson. It was during his time at Slade that Professor Barr developed his seminal article ‘CinemaScope: Before and After’.

 

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‘Cultivating Film-makers’ Panel Discussion @ Filmbase

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‘Cultivating Film-makers’

27th May 2015

Filmbase, Curved Street, Dublin 2

3 – 4.30pm

 

Inspired by recent publications in this area, most notably Duncan Petrie and Rod Stoneman’s Educating Film-Makers (Intellect, 2014), voicesonfilm in association with Film Ireland present ‘Cultivating Film-makers’, an open panel discussion considering the contemporary face of Third Level Film education in Ireland. The panel will consider the following questions:

 

What should a contemporary film degree look like? 

Who is it aimed at? 

What should it contain? 

Who should deliver it? 

Where would it lead? 

What should it even be called?

 

The Panel:

Professor Rod Stoneman, Professor Rod Stoneman, Director of The Huston School of Film & Digital Media, NUIG

Professor Charles Barr, Professorial Research Fellow, St Mary’s University, Twickenham

Donald Taylor Black, Creative Director of The National Film School at IADT

Claire Dix, Director and Lecturer

Neasa Hardiman, Director and Writer

Dr Barnaby Taylor, Programme Leader BA (Hons) Film, Dublin Business School

Alan Fitzpatrick, Managing Director of Filmbase

The panel will be chaired by Conor Murphy, Chairman of Filmbase

 

The discussion is open to anyone interested but places are limited so please RSVP to voicesonfilm@gmail.com

 

 

The Irish launch of Alain Kerzoncuf & Charles Barr’s book Hitchcock Lost and Found: The Forgotten Films will follow the panel – all are welcome – Click here for further details

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Launch of Alain Kerzoncuf & Charles Barr’s ‘Hitchcock Lost and Found: The Forgotten Films’ @ Filmbase

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Hitchcock Lost and Found: The Forgotten Films

Irish Launch

27th May 2015

Filmbase, Curved Street, Dublin 2

4.45-6pm

voicesonfilm and Film Ireland are hosting the Irish launch of Dr. Alain Kerzoncuf and Professor Charles Barr’s recently-published Hitchcock Lost and Found: The Forgotten Films. The launch follows ‘Cultivating Film-makers’,  an open panel discussion considering the contemporary face of Third Level Film education in Ireland. Professor Charles Barr will be in attendance.

While recent books and articles discussing his life and work focus on the production and philosophy of Hitchcock’s iconic Hollywood-era films like Notorious (1946) and Vertigo (1958), Hitchcock Lost and Found moves beyond these seminal works to explore forgotten, incomplete, lost, and recovered productions from all stages of his career, including his early years in Britain.

All are welcome to attend both the panel and to celebrate the launch of this important contribution to the study of one of cinema’s most significant directors.

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voicesonfilm 1: 1960: New Words for New Waves

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Introducing voicesonfilm, an Open Access, co-curated videographic research initiative designed to record, format and share significant voices in the history and development of the medium and its study. With its intimate conversations, voicesonfilm brings you the history of filmmaking and analysis. Using direct interviews with filmmakers, historians and analysts, voicesonfilm offers the viewer the unique privilege of personal insight, comment, knowledge and memoir.

Film Ireland would like to thank voicesonfilm for allowing us to reproduce their content.

The first conversation from the voicesonfilm project is with the international film scholar Professor Charles Barr, recorded at Filmbase in Dublin, Ireland in June 2014.

In this first episode Professor Barr describes the significance of the year 1960 to not only his early career as a film scholar but also to new ways of thinking and writing about cinema.

 

 

Professor Barr will be in Dublin on the 27th May 2015 for two events at Filmbase:

 

The Irish launch of his recently-published book, co-authored with Dr. Alain Kerzoncuf, Hitchcock Lost and Found: The Forgotten Films. Click here for full details

&

‘Cultivating Film-makers’, an open panel discussion considering the contemporary face of Third Level Film education in Ireland. Click here for full details

 

Professor Barr is currently Professorial Research Fellow at St Mary’s University College, Twickenham. Before this he spent three years as the Visiting Professor in Film Studies at University College Dublin, and also (in 2010-11) as Adjunct Professor at NUI Galway, in the John Huston School of Film and Digital Media. Prior to this he was Director of the Program in Film and Media at Washington University in St Louis.

Between 1976 and 2006 Professor Barr was based at the University of East Anglia where he initiated and played a key role in developing one of the UK’s leading centres for Film and TV Studies at undergraduate and graduate level.

Much of Professor Barr’s recent work has centred on Alfred Hitchcock, following on from his book on English Hitchcock (Cameron & Hollis, 1999). A new edition of his study of Vertigo, for the BFI Classics series, was published by BFI/Palgrave in 2012. Professor Barr’s current projects include Hitchcock: Lost and Found, co-authored with the Parisian scholar Alain Kerzoncuf for publication by the University of Kentucky Press in late 2013. This is based on extensive archival research in Britain and the US, funded by an Emeritus Fellowship from the Leverhulme Foundation.

His other main research area continues to be British cinema history; he was co-writer, with its presenter Stephen Frears, of Channel 4’s centenary history, Typically British (1996). He also has work in progress on the Swedish director Victor Sjöström and on the Hollywood melodramas of John M. Stahl.

Professor Barr’s current research profile can be accessed here

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