As part of the American Film Institute’s AFI Fest taking over Hollywood this week, the stars of The Disaster Artist celebrated the film’s premiere on Sunday night. James Franco, Dave Franco, Seth Rogen, Alison Brie, Paul Scheer, Josh Hutcherson and more walked the red carpet at the TCL Chinese Theatre before the star-studded screening.
The Disaster Artist follows the making of The Room, a 2003 cult hit largely known as the “best” worst movie ever made. Directed by James Franco, the film is based on the novel The Disaster Artist, which recounts the behind-the-scenes antics of director-star Tommy Wiseau’s original movie.
“I love Hollywood stories, and this was unlike any Hollywood story I’d ever heard of or even read about,” Franco told The Hollywood Reporter at the premiere. “I read the book and I just thought yeah, this will be so unusual and weird, but at its core it will have this great story about dreamers trying to make it and about friendship.”
James Franco also plays Wiseau, an eccentric actor struggling to find success in show business until he decides to make his own movie, which co-stars Greg Sestero (Wiseau’s real-life best friend and the author of The Disaster Artist), who is portrayed by James’ brother, Dave Franco. This film marks the first time the brothers have worked together in a major movie, but Franco said he knew from the start that he wanted Dave as his co-star.
“Before I was halfway through the book, I knew I wanted to tell the story, I knew I wanted to direct it, I knew I wanted to play Tommy and I knew my brother would be perfect for Greg, that we had the right dynamic,” he said. “He and I hadn’t worked together much, but I knew he was an awesome actor and we had done this series of videos for Funny or Die where I played this wacky acting coach and he was my student, and it was a similar kind of dynamic.”
The movie became even more of a family affair when Alison Brie, Dave’s wife, came on board in a supporting role and a third Franco brother, Tom, who is not an actor, had a cameo. For Dave, the family aspect on set is something he hopes to replicate for future films, even though James was famously in character as Tommy throughout the shoot, which he admitted “was weird.”
“It was one of the most enjoyable experiences because of the fact that I was working with my brother, I was working with my wife, I was working with a lot of our close friends — it doesn’t get any better than that,” the actor told THR. “Not to get cheesy, but people ask me what I want to be doing five or 10 years from now, and I honestly want to be doing exactly what I’m doing now, which is working with the people I love.”
Because of The Room‘s status as “the Citizen Kane of bad movies,” as it’s known, Dave Franco said that mastering the tone of the film was the biggest challenge, as they didn’t want it to come off as a parody of the film or of Wiseau.
“We wanted it to be a celebration of filmmakers and dreamers and people who don’t take no for an answer, and so tonally from the very beginning, we were thinking, let’s try to mimic Boogie Nights as closely as possible, because in Boogie Nights, it’s a lot of strange characters in crazy situations, but everyone plays it as real as possible, so that was our benchmark,” he said.
While most of the cast discovered the cult classic after starting work on this film, comedian Scheer had been a longtime fan of The Room, and was amazed at how The Disaster Artist was able to “re-create this iconic thing down to like the lamp and picture frame on the wall, so it was kind of amazing to walk into this fully complete world.” Scheer, who played a crewmember on the Room set, also stressed that the film is not just meant for the original film’s fans.
“I think the interesting thing about it was to make a movie that is accessible if you’ve never seen The Room, I think that’s the biggest thing,” he said. “What I’ve been telling people is it’s like a prequel and a sequel, like if you’ve seen The Room it’s gonna work great, if you’ve never seen it, you’re gonna want to see it.”
The Disaster Artist opens nationwide Dec. 8.