Book Review: ‘The Disaster Artist’

Written by: Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell

This is a true story about a movie, written by one of the leading actors Greg Sestero. Name doesn’t ring a bell?


“Oh, hai.”

Greg Sestero played Mark in the infamous cult film The Room, alongside actor/director/writer/producer/possible alien Tommy Wiseau. If you haven’t seen The Room you really should. Like, right now. It is the most bewilderingly awful movie you will ever see. The script is written by someone who not only falls short in their understanding of the English language but basic human behaviour. For what’s supposed to be a drama it’s a strangely alien film that leaves the viewer pondering endless questions. Why do they have framed pictures of spoons throughout the house? Why does Mark keep his weed hidden on his friend’s rooftop? What the hell is with the flower shop scene? How did this thing even happen?!

Luckily for us Greg Sestero has recounted his memories of his journey into Hollywood and involvement in this mess. Most of all, he recounts his friendship with the odd Tommy Wiseau. Sestero has an interesting story to tell all on his own, one that may seem familiar to some but nonetheless told with a certain panache. Deciding to make a play for stardom in his teens Sestero had a good start to his acting career, scoring a top agent and leading role in a horror film soon after arriving in Hollywood. It was in acting class that he first noticed the ‘pirate’ who would throw himself into every role regardless on how suitable this approach was. Initially looking for help boosting his confidence on stage Sestero volunteers to do a scene with Tommy, which leads to a friendship that shapes his life for the years to follow.

We end up with two narrative threads. In addition to the friendship between the mismatched wannabe actors we have the behind the scenes look at The Room, which is the selling point of the book (although both stories are worth following). If you think the movie is fascinating, it barely holds a candle to what a day on set is like. Tommy’s unhinged personality does little to keep the production running smoothly with two directors of photography walking off set being just one of the problems they face. You will find out why the pictures of spoons are there, and why the delivery of the ‘hi doggie’ line is so stilted, and they are great stories.

By the end of the book you may not be any closer to understanding Tommy Wiseau, but you will undoubtably feel more sympathy for the man. An extra insight into the cultural phenomenon that The Room became is also worth the price of purchase. If you’ve enjoyed the movie you owe it to yourself to read The Disaster Artist. Read it before the movie of the book about the movie comes out (seriously, James Franco is making it happen).