James Franco’s decision to cast himself as Tommy Wiseau and his youngest brother Dave Franco as Greg Sistero in The Disaster Artist has been called a masterstroke by some of those lucky enough to have seen their depiction of the production of “The Room,” which is widely regarded as the worst film ever made.
During my discussion with the Franco brothers earlier this month about “The Disaster Artist,” James admitted that after reading Greg Sistero’s book of the same name, which screenwriters Scott Neustadter and Michael H Weber adapted, he immediately knew that he wanted Dave to play Greg. But it turns out that Dave Franco wasn't as immediately convinced.
“I knew a few things when I read it," James Franco recalled. "I knew I had to tell this story. You get a sense when you can play a character, and I knew I needed to play Tommy Wiseau. I knew it would take some prosthetics, but I knew I could pull it off. I knew if we could pull off the outer look I could pull off the inner life.”
“I knew that I wanted my brother to play Greg. I knew we had the right dynamic for that. We had done a series of videos for Funny Or Die. Where I play this ridiculous acting coach and he was my student. It was basically the rudiments of the relationship in the film. I knew that much.”
James Franco immediately set out to convince Dave to join the film, and his first port of call was telling him to watch “The Room.” However, while Dave Franco duly obliged, telling his brother to watch “The Room” by himself was probably the worst advice James could have given.
“I think you just texted me and said, ‘Watch ‘The Room’ immediately if you haven’t done so already.’ At the time I was working in Boston so I watched ‘The Room’ by myself in a hotel room. Not the way to watch that movie for the first time. So I finished that movie feeling very unsettled.”
The reason why Dave felt so unsettled is because you can only really appreciate how gloriously terrible “The Room” is in a communal setting where everyone can comment and make jokes about it. If you watch it by yourself, you’re just watching a bad movie. But not long after Dave Franco saw “The Room” in a crowded theater, and he immediately recognized the potential in “The Disaster Artist.”
“Soon after I went to one of the Midnight screenings and immediately understood why ‘The Room’ is the cult hit that it is. I read the book right after, too. When you read the book you can envision how we could make a film out of the whole thing.”
“The book is so funny and weird but strangely inspiring. Like my brother was saying there was just a lot that we could relate to, in terms of being a young actor and facing so much rejection.”
At that point, the Franco Brothers were off to the races, a journey that has now seen “The Disaster Artist” released into cinemas, and could soon include plenty of Awards season nominations, too.