James Franco knows a thing or two about making bad movies. None of his directorial efforts has been particularly well-received, which might explain why our most famous multi-hyphenate has such a strong affinity for Tommy Wiseau, the enigmatic director of The Room.
But that’s likely to change with The Disaster Artist, Franco’s big screen adaptation of Greg Sestero’s memoir of the same name, which chronicles the making of what many people consider the greatest bad movie ever made. The Disaster Artist debuted at SXSW back in March to rapturous reviews, which puts Franco the director in uncharted territory. Critics not only hailed his work behind the camera, but also praised his performance as the eccentric Wiseau, for the way it toed the line between self-parody and reverential tribute.
In the film’s first trailer, we see the affection Franco has for the creative process firsthand. It depicts a scene that should be instantly recognizable to anyone who’s attended any of the raucous midnight screenings that have become a favorite pastime for The Room’s many acolytes since its 2003 release. Wiseau can’t hit his marks or remember his lines (which don’t make any sense, by the way). When he finally does, the mood on set goes from frustration to utter euphoria. It’s a small victory, but a victory nonetheless.
Seth Rogen shows up as The Room script supervisor Sandy Schklair, and Dave Franco stars as Sestero, but the real revelation here is Franco, who nails Wiseau’s peculiar tics and hard-to-place accent with aplomb. According to Rogen, Franco stayed in character for the length of the shoot. “We’ve filmed a lot of weird shit in our day, but this was one where it was like, this is fucking weird,” he said.
The parallels between the two men wasn’t lost on Franco, who’s been known to indulge in some questionable artistic pursuits. “I really respected that he came out to Hollywood like so many millions of people have done, and he got this movie made,” he said of Wiseau after the March screening. “I am Tommy Wiseau. So much. In ways I don’t want to admit.”
But where Wiseau failed, Franco it seems, succeeded. A24 has gifted The Disaster Artist with a prime December 1 release date, which should make the film a force to be reckoned with come awards season. Watch the trailer below.