Welcome to Commentary Commentary, our long-running series of articles exploring the things we can learn from the most interesting filmmaker commentaries available on DVD and Blu-ray.
The Disaster Artist is an unlikely awards contender — it’s a comedy, and it’s about the making of Tommy Wiseau‘s The Room — but in addition to being nominated for an Adapted Screenplay Oscar it was nominated for 66 awards over all (with 23 total wins). It succeeds pretty damn well at bringing the funny, but it’s the heart that adds to the surprise.
Keep reading to see what I heard on the commentary for…
The Disaster Artist (2017)
Commentators: James Franco (director/actor), Dave Franco (actor), Tommy Wiseau (alien), Greg Sestero (co-star of The Room/author of The Disaster Artist), Scott Neustadter (writer) & Michael H. Weber (writer)
1. The billboard Wiseau put up advertising The Room stood for five years and cost “a lot of money.”
2. The talking head interview snippets at the beginning of the film were inspired by Warren Beatty’s Reds (but you probably assumed as much), but Franco discovered afterwards that Wiseau used to film similar interviews with audiences after seeing his film.
3. Wiseau’s (James Franco) air-humping at the acting class is something of a foreshadowing of his humping of the red dress later on.
4. Wiseau’s been ordering piping hot water since he was born. It’s good for your digestive system apparently.
5. Sestero says he didn’t get quite this enthusiastic during the real life rehearsal at the diner, but Wiseau isn’t having it. “I disagree with you right now on this matter,” he says.
6. Per James, Wiseau believes only 40% of Sestero’s book is accurate but approves of 99.9% of the film. “That’s not true,” says Wiseau.
7. “I had a car accident,” says Wiseau, “but not the way you guys thinking.” Dave asks him to go on, but he’s not having it. “That’s all.”
8. The original script for The Room features the line “You’re taking me apart!” as opposed to “You’re tearing me apart!” He changed it during production because “tearing” is more powerful.
9. Wiseau used to fly once a week between San Francisco and Los Angeles for acting classes.
10. The book includes mention of moment where Sestero arrives at Wiseau’s LA apartment and after bedding down in the living room he recalls hearing Wiseau’s voice from the other room saying “Somebody chicken!” James asks what that’s about, and Wiseau replies “Vampires coming.”
11. Wiseau believes it’s his destiny to some day make something in the entertainment industry with Dave “because your brother’s completely off the wall sometimes.”
12. Wiseau used to record himself talking while driving, but these “secret tapes” are a private matter. He only acknowledges that he did so at the suggestion of his acting teacher.
13. Sharon Stone, who plays Sestero’s agent, told Dave that she was visited by the ghost of the real woman the night before her filming day.
14. Sestero auditioned for the Roswell pilot.
15. Regarding the famous Hollywood director who told Wiseau to keep going, he “won’t tell you his name.” He then reconsiders and begins telling the story, but laughter and an interruption by James leaves him changing his mind once again. “Move on.”
16. The sign atop Wiseau’s apartment building in the film says “OJAI” as in “Oh hi Mark.”
17. James recalls a rare moment of open and honest insight from Wiseau that happened a few weeks before this recording. They met at a diner, and Wiseau said “you know The Room, it not exactly how I intend it.” Wiseau says he meant that his film was meant to “provoke the audience.”
18. One of the writers asks Sestero what his reaction was to reading Wiseau’s “not that great” script for The Room, and Wiseau isn’t having it. “Why you say that? Wait a minute I’ll stop you right now. Why you say it’s not great?” He’s unsurprisingly cut off without an answer.
19. James asks for clarification as to why Wiseau bought all of the equipment instead of simply renting lights, cameras, etc. “Okay, sure,” says Wiseau, “do you know the words depreciation?” One of the writers counters that’s an argument for renting, but Wiseau’s not having it. “No you don’t understand, so we have nothing to talk about right now with you.” The writer suggests even renting it twice would have been cheaper to which Wiseau replies “No you’re incorrect right now. I stop you right now.”
20. Wiseau’s considering a new feature called Chris R. based on the character of Chris R. from The Room.
21. Wiseau claims he didn’t actually require so many takes for his rooftop scene coming through the door. “I rest my case.”
22. James asks if script supervisor Sandy Schklair (played by Seth Rogen here) actually directed The Room, as he’s seen in some behind the scenes footage calling action and cut and has claimed publicly that he did so. He does add that as an actor/director himself he’s also had other people call action on films he’s directing. Wiseau begins using math to counter the accusation, and James interrupts to talk about the pool scene. They come back to it briefly with the bottom line being that Wiseau does not agree with Schklair’s claim.
23. Wiseau says the pool scene is his favorite because “I like the water, I like the girl.” The girl is Alison Brie — Dave’s wife — so his comment gets some exasperated “what?” replies.
24. Wiseau did wear a cock-sock while filming the love scene and was inspired to show his ass by Franco’s portrayal of James Dean in 2001’s James Dean.
25. The Bryan Cranston/Malcolm In the Middle meeting never actually happened, and in fact it was initially scripted as being Richard Dean Anderson offering an audition on Stargate SG-1. Instead it was a photo shoot that was offered to Sestero that he had to turn down because of The Room.
26. Dave cannot grow a beard.
27. The “cheep cheep” bit came to Wiseau from Rebel Without a Cause and his aunt in New Orleans who had a chicken.
28. A third Franco brother, Tom, appears briefly at the 1:13:50 mark.
29. Wiseau feels good seeing people laugh at his film. It’s not the reaction he initially intended, but he’s thrilled to see it touch people.
30. James was one of two actors Wiseau wanted to play him. The other was Johnny Depp. Sestero envisioned Javier Bardem and Ryan Gosling as Wiseau and himself.
31. Wiseau’s cameo comes after the end credits, and his look was his own design. He had sent over a pic of himself with glasses and a drawn-on mustache, and James claims Wiseau said he would draw it better for the actual shoot. “That’s not what I said,” says Wiseau. “You see you’re already twist words around.”
32. Films mentioned by James as influences on the making of this one include Reds, Sweet and Lowdown, The Wrestler, and Straight Outta Compton.
Best in Context-Free Commentary
“The Room is based on real living people. It’s from real life.”
“Friendship is always question mark.”
“You have a tendancy to interrupt me James.”
“This is very misleading Mr. Smart Guy.”
“Let me talk to your script people.”
“That’s again a completely false statement.”
Buy The Disaster Artist on Blu-ray from Amazon.
There’s an odd tension between James Franco and Wiseau — it’s playful but feels like it’s built on something real — most evident in Franco’s occasionally dismissive nature with him and regularly use of his Wiseau impression. I believe they’re friends, but I also believe they’re not? The track as a whole is a good listen offering laughs, details, and anecdotes in addition to insight into the mysterious enigma that is Tommy Wiseau. Highly recommended listen for fans.