'The Disaster Artist': 10 of the Film's Stars and Their Real-Life Inspirations

8:30 AM 12/1/2017

by Kirsten Chuba

The film, hitting theaters Dec. 1, tells the behind-the-scenes story of Tommy Wiseau's cult-classic film 'The Room.'

Based on actor Greg Sestero's memoir of the same name, The Disaster Artist tells the story of The Room, a 2003 cult-classic film that has widely been called "the Citizen Kane of bad movies." 

The original movie starred Tommy Wiseau, who also wrote, directed and produced, and who took The Room so seriously that he kept it in theaters long enough to be in Oscar contention, while almost everyone else treated it as a joke. The book gives Sestero's take — he served as Wiseau's co-star — on the madness behind the infamous film. 

The Disaster Artist, which hits theaters Friday, marks the first time that brothers James and Dave Franco have worked together, as well as a reteaming of James Franco and Seth Rogen (The Pineapple Express, Knocked Up, This Is the End, among others).

Check out the list below to see who's playing whom in the new film.

  • James Franco as Tommy Wiseau

    James Franco (left) and Tommy Wiseau
    James Franco (left) and Tommy Wiseau

    Tommy Wiseau wrote, directed, produced and starred in The Room, which has become known as one of the worst movies ever made. The story is based off of an unpublished novel Wiseau wrote and follows a dramatic love triangle of two best friends, Johnny (played by Wiseau) and Mark, and a girl who tears them apart. 

    Wiseau has told several conflicting stories about his life before The Room, but appears to have grown up in Louisiana and worked a series of odd jobs in California before he was in a car accident that motivated him to pursue his passion in film. He spent $6 million of his own money to make the film and thousands more on advertising and theater screenings. Since The Room, he had small roles in a few movie and television projects, largely as himself. He also has a cameo role in The Disaster Artist.

    James Franco, who portrays Wiseau in the film, said that during his talks with Wiseau it became clear that Franco was not his first choice to play him, and that he would prefer Johnny Depp. 

    "I laughed,” Franco told Vanity Fair. “And he said, ‘Why are you laughing?’ I said, ‘I don’t know, dude. He’s in Pirates [of the Caribbean], he's a big movie star, I don't know." 

    When it was suggested that Franco take on the role, he said Wiseau told him, "'Yeah, James, I’ve seen your stuff. You’ve done some good things, some bad things.'"

    For Franco, who also directed and produced the The Disaster Artist, it was his 2001 role in the biopic James Dean that ended up landing him the leading role. 

    "It turned out later I guess that the two people he wanted were Johnny Depp and me, and I guess it was partly because I had played James Dean," he said. "Tommy, for whatever reason, he's got this weird like reverse body dysmorphia, he thinks he's James Dean. So I learned in hind-sight we were kind of star-crossed, whatever."

  • Dave Franco as Greg Sestero

    Dave Franco (left) and Greg Sestero
    Dave Franco (left) and Greg Sestero

    After years of modeling, Greg Sestero met Tommy Wiseau in an acting class in 1998, where Wiseau soon pitched him the idea of The Room. Sestero agreed to work only on the set of the film but eventually became Wiseu's co-star, playing Mark, his best friend who steals his girlfriend. 

    In 2013, Sestero released a memoir on the experience, The Disaster Artist, which is what the film is based on. The book details his odd interactions with Wiseau and what eventually became a friendship between the two, and it was this story that got James and Dave Franco's attention. 

    It is the brothers' first time working together on a major role, with Dave taking on the role of Sestero, who is more logical and realizes what a disaster the movie is becoming. Sestero also consulted on the film as well as writing the book the film is based on. 

    "We always knew it might be a niche thing just because it's based on such a cult movie," Dave Franco told Vanity Fair. "But I think people are reacting to it so positively, even if you've never even heard of The Room, because of the universal story underneath it all about two guys just going after their dreams."

  • Seth Rogen as Sandy Schklair

    Seth Rogen (left) and Sandy Schklair
    Seth Rogen (left) and Sandy Schklair

    Sandy Schklair served as script supervisor for The Room and has in recent years said he wants directing credit as well, saying he took over many of the directorial duties that Tommy Wiseau couldn't handle. In his book, Greg Sestero discusses how Schklair tried to keep Tommy on track and help him with his scenes, to no avail. 

    Seth Rogen reunites with frequent co-star James Franco for this film, which he also co-produced. Schklair has said that he was concerned about Rogen's portrayal as they did not speak or discuss the role. 

  • Alison Brie as Amber

    Alison Brie
    Alison Brie

    Amber is Greg Sestero's girlfriend in the film, but the character doesn't seem to be based on any real person. Portrayed by Dave Franco's real-life wife Alison Brie, Amber helps Sestero deal with the craziness that is working with Tommy Wiseau. 

  • Zac Efron as Dan Janjigian

    Zac Efron (left) and Dan Janjigian
    Zac Efron (left) and Dan Janjigian

    Dan Janjigian is an actor and plays a smaller character in The Room, known as Chris-R, a drug dealer who is overtaken by Tommy Wiseau and Greg Sestero's characters. Janjigian quickly gave up his acting career and is now in marketing and business development, according to his Twitter. Zac Efron makes an appearance in the film as Janjigian, reuniting with Seth Rogen, his co-star in the Neighbors films. 

  • Josh Hutcherson as Philip Haldiman

    Josh Hutcherson (left) and Philip Halidman
    Josh Hutcherson (left) and Philip Halidman

    Philip Haldiman is another actor in The Room, portraying Denny, a student that Tommy Wiseau's character emotionally and financially supports. Haldiman later created a comic book series based on his life and role in the movie, called My Big Break, and is played by Josh Hutcherson in the film. 

  • Ari Graynor as Juliette Danielle

    Ari Graynor (left) and Juliette Danielle
    Ari Graynor (left) and Juliette Danielle

    One of the major stars of The Room is Lisa, played by Juliette Danielle. In the film, she is Tommy Wiseau's character's fiance, who cheats on him with Greg Sestero's character, causing the two best friends to fight. She now runs a blog and freelances as a graphic designer and marketer, saying she has retired from acting. She is portrayed by Ari Graynor, known for her roles in Mystic River and Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist.  

  • Jacki Weaver as Carolyn Minnott

    Jacki Weaver (left) and Carolyn Minnott
    Jacki Weaver (left) and Carolyn Minnott

    Carolyn Minnott plays a small role in The Room as Lisa's mom, and is most noted for a plot line where she reveals she has breast cancer — an issue that is not addressed again in the rest of the film. Jacki Weaver, of Silver Linings Playbook and Animal Kingdom, plays the part. 

  • June Diane Raphael as Robyn Paris

    June Diane Raphael (left) and Robyn Paris
    June Diane Raphael (left) and Robyn Paris

    Lisa's best friend, Michelle, was played by Robyn Paris in The Room, and in The Disaster Artist Robin is played by June Diane Raphael, from Grace and Frankie and New Girl

  • Nathan Fielder as Kyle Vogt

    Nathan Fielder (left) and Kyle Vogt
    Nathan Fielder (left) and Kyle Vogt

    Kyle Vogt plays Peter, a psychologist who is friends with Tommy Wiseau and Greg Sestero's characters, in The Room. Vogt had only limited time to shoot his scenes and he left the movie before it was completed. Comedian Nathan Fielder of Nathan for You portrays Vogt.