James Franco’s latest film, The Disaster Artist is up for several awards this Sunday's Golden Globes. The film, based on the eponymous book, chronicles the making of Tommy Wisaeu’s cult classic motion picture, The Room. Not only does Franco star in the film, he also directed and produced the biographical dramedy. Franco shared some of his thoughts on the critically acclaimed film and playing the zany role of Tommy Wiseau.
Dave and James Franco at the premiere of The Disaster Artist.
I learned so much on these projects that came out this year—The Deuce on HBO and on this project—largely because of the producers I had and people I worked with—everyone from the producers to the executive producers to the actors. For the first time in my life, I had very strong people guiding me and people I had to answer to—including Seth Rogen and his company on this film. They were just more experienced in this kind of filmmaking—so that was why I asked them. I said, “Help me!” I see the potential here, this appeals to my need to make something weird, but I see the potential to make this something bigger. I felt like I was in great hands.
I knew before I was done with the book that I wanted to play Tommy Wiseau. Sometimes you come across a character and you just know. You think, “I feel a way in, I recognize something in there I can hold on to.” I very much felt that way with Tommy. Once I got in there and started playing him, I realized I related in a lot more ways than I wanted to admit at first. Tommy had the same heroes as I had—James Dean and Marlon Brando. He had a very similar story to me—you come to LA, struggle, go to class, work hard, and do what they can to follow their dreams—I can totally relate to that. Even the lack of perspective on himself—all things I can relate to. In a weird way, it turned out to be a very personal story for me. I don’t know what it says about me. (Laughs)
My brother Dave [Franco], who is incredible in the movie, had a bigger challenge with it. We would be doing scenes, outside the recreation of The Room and he would be acting well. He was playing comedy or drama in the right tone. Then, he would have to jump into recreations of The Room that were not good. He would have to mimic Greg who was sort of stiff in The Room. For me, Tommy was sort of unaware as to how he is coming off. It’s the same in front of camera and behind. The trick was the emotional grounding and to figure out something that makes him tick—something that makes him motivated everyday. There were two things—he had this dream and but really it was also his friendship with Greg. If you do it right—the audience is pulled in.
It is crazy how Oahu and surfing will zap your memory! Man, I was on vacation—I am sort of forgetful. I landed yesterday. The ironic thing—and there are many ironies in this story—was that Tommy’s hero was James Dean. He even quotes James Dean in his movie [The Room]—"You’re tearing me apart Lisa.” I have it on the back of my phone and its now on my surfboard I just took to Oahu.
Photography via Facebook.com/DisasterArtistMovie