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Oh, hi Mark: The Disaster Artist writer Greg Sestero returning to Calgary

By Matty Hume, November 9 2017 —

The Fifth Reel is a local staple. For half a decade, they’ve delivered highly engaging screenings of cult classics from Rushmore to Space Jam along with opening sets from live bands and an abundance of audience interaction. On Nov. 29, The Fifth Reel is celebrating their fifth anniversary in glorious style. Greg Sestero, critically acclaimed writer and breakout co-star of the 2003 cult classic The Room, is returning to Calgary for “Oh Hi Mark! With Greg Sestero.”

The event will feature a live reading of The Room’s original script with Sestero, a screening of a short documentary produced by Sestero about the making of The Room and a book signing of his now-famed memoir, The Disaster Artist.

Is there anything left to be said about The Room? The film has been viewed thousands of times over, deconstructed, laughed at and cherished. Love it or hate it, the unofficial “best worst movie ever” has brought joy of some kind to people worldwide.

“It feeds from the people’s enthusiasm, so it’s hard to get tired of something when you show up and you see people just have the time of their lives and they want more and more of it,” Sestero says.

Part of The Room’s charm is Tommy Wiseau, the man who wrote, directed, produced and starred in the movie. His eccentricities fuel the film’s ongoing legacy.  

“The intriguing part of The Room for me was obviously watching the way people responded to the film having known Tommy for years before,” he says. “Had I not written [The Disaster Artist] and everything that’s evolved from that taken place, I think it would be kind of played out obviously for me at this point.”

Sestero says script readings like the one at The Fifth Reel event keep The Room interesting.

“I don’t watch The Room,” he says. “But if there’s new ways to come at it — like it was discovered after a few of the script readings — it’s actually really fun to see people see what it was like shooting a first draft of the script and see what that was like to go through. I think the evolution keeps it more interesting than just the same movie playing over and over.”

Sestero rekindled the film’s discourse with his memoir, The Disaster Artist. It explores the story behind The Room’s absurd existence and was adapted for the big screen under the same name by Seth Rogen and brothers James and Dave Franco for a Dec. 1 release. The biographical comedy-drama is sure to be a hit and will bring a resurgence of attention to Tommy Wiseau’s magnum opus.

“I was ambitious with [The Disaster Artist]. I thought initially I wanted it to become its own Oscar-winning film. It’s crazy that it’s all come together and it’s definitely rewarding. The Room wasn’t something I had any creative role in, so I thought the book was a great way to show that there’s more to me than [my character in The Room],” Sestero says. “I think The Disaster Artist turned out exceptionally well. It captures what the whole experience was like and what it’s like to try to follow your dreams. There’s a lot of comedy and it’s heartfelt — extremely funny but at the same time at the end there’s a lot of people that have felt very inspired by it and that’s all I could really hope for. I think The Room was obviously looked at as the worst movie ever — or best worst movie ever — so my goal with the book was to tell a great story that would captivate people in a different way.”

In the film, James Franco portrays Wiseau. Sestero says Wiseau has, in general, responded well to the flick.

“He’s been positive,” Sestero says. “For the most part I don’t think Tommy is someone you can ever fully make happy but I think he should be.”

The Fifth Reel event also features a screening of the to-be-released Best F(r)iends. Written by Sestero, the film is based on a road trip he took with Wiseau during their friendship. Sestero says the inspiration for Best F(r)iends came after viewing the adaptation of The Disaster Artist.

“People would ask me, would I ever work with Tommy again, and the answer was honestly ‘no.’ I thought that after The Room I couldn’t foresee myself doing something else with him,” Sestero says. “Something came about a year and a half ago at a screening of The Disaster Artist. I ended up seeing Tommy in a little bit of a different light. Seeing him from a different perspective was inspiring in a way. He just wanted to be taken seriously as an actor and I realized no one had given him that chance.”

Sestero says Best F(r)iends is an opportunity for Wiseau to do what originally wanted with The Room — to be taken seriously.

“He made himself a Marlon Brando leading man [in The Room] which became a comedy,” he says. “So this idea popped in my head, ‘What if Tommy was put in a role that was giving him the chance to succeed as an actor and only an actor?’ ”

Join Sestero for The Fifth Reel’s fifth anniversary at “Oh Hi Mark!” on Nov. 29 at the Globe Cinema. There will be a reading of The Room’s original script, along with a screening of Sestero’s documentary and an advance screening of Best F(r)iends. Tickets are $17 for Fifth Reel members and $22 for non-members and can be found online.

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