If you’ve ever seen The Room, you’ll know it’s just about the most bizarre movie ever made. Supposedly a serious drama, you’ll find it full of extremely oddball humour born out of the fact that all of the character are downright otherworldly and seem impossibly far away from real people. None of them are more peculiar than the main character, Johnny, who is played by the movie’s writer, direct and producer, Tommy Wiseau. The Disaster Artist tells the story of how The Room came to be and of the relationship between Wiseau and Greg Sestero (who plays Mark, another leading character in the movie).
I’d advise that you don’t read this book if you’ve never seen the movie. Once you have seen it, you’ll probably find yourself looking for answers. If you’re already a fan of the movie, I have to warn you that you probably won’t be able to watch the film in quite the same way again. Learning what you do as you read this, the whole thing develops a rather tragic element. You may have seen Tommy Wiseau as a clown-like figure before, but after this you’ll see he’s very much a sad clown.
As much as I did enjoy the information about The Room, where the ideas for it came from and the issues it faced during production, for me, the most interesting part of this book was how it covers the relationship between Greg and Tommy. At times, I thought Tommy seemed an awfully toxic and abusive person who wasn’t deserving of the friendship which Greg was offering him. At other times, I was so glad that they had each other. It’s such a beautiful and complicated thing.
What I also found fascinating, was the insight into Tommy Wiseau himself. I already knew he was an unusual and mysterious man, but the book made me realise that he’s even more curious than I thought. How does he seem to have a near infinite supply of money? Why does he own so many buildings in LA? Why is he so secretive about how old he is and where he comes from? Why does he like to tell people he’s a vampire? The book does provide a semi-speculative account of his origins and early life which, if true, are pretty darn heart-breaking.
On top of being an interesting insight into a movie I love, it’s also an amazing chronicle of the life of a struggling actor in LA and a look into a friendship which is quite unlike anything you’ll have heard before. Overall, that makes for a pretty great read.