It was an honor and a pleasure to chat with Greg Sestero in this special issue. I’ve been a fan of The Room (considered by many to be the worst movie ever made) for quite a few years and loved The Disaster Artist. It’s the only audio book I’ve ever bought on iTunes and I stayed up all night listening to it at the San Diego Comic Con 2015. Sestero’s most well known role is as Mark, the best friend to Tommy Wiseau’s character Johnny. Greg and Tommy’s friendship was brought to the big screen last year in the award winning movie, “The Disaster Artist”, and they were portrayed by Dave and James Franco. We sat down with Greg at The Pack Theater on Santa Monica Blvd to talk about his newest movie, “Best F(r)iends: Volumes 1 and 2”, and the influence that cannabis infused edibles had on his creative writing process.
Greg, for any Edibles Magazine readers who aren’t totally aware of who you are, how would you describe your career so far?
Mine is one of the most unorthodox paths taken in the history of Hollywood. In 2003 I made a movie, “The Room”, that was considered the worst movie ever made with no chance to succeed, made by my very close friend Tommy Wiseau who was someone who wasn’t given a part in Hollywood for years and so he decided he would make a movie and finance it all by himself. He put up a billboard for five years and he did a lot of things that had never been done before and were looked at as being insane. And then a few years later people started seeing it and really responding to it, and it was all audience response with absolutely no studio behind it and it was really just built up by the people. By 2010 it had become this international cult phenomenon, and I was just kind of really trying to do my own thing and get away from it, and it wasn’t even really a part of my life at that time, but it almost really gave me another chance and that’s when I decided to write the book, “The Disaster Artist”. My goal with the book was to tell a story about something that was so bad, that would then be turned into a movie that was so good it would win awards. Again, Tommy originally intended to make a movie that would be great enough to launch him, but it actually wound up being so bad. And then I tried to take that and turn it into something great, and here we are in 2017 a movie is made about “The Disaster Artist” that won a Golden Globe and was nominated for an Oscar. So the path and experience I’ve had in Hollywood for the last twenty years is that there’s always a positive to be found within a negative and what I’ve learned is that you don’t need to let one circumstance define you, there’s always a way to work around it and if you stay true to who you are and what your passion is, and stay focused on that you can work your way out of a lot of trouble.
Another thing that’s really funny is – They (the publishers) wanted to do an audio book but they didn’t want me to narrate it, they wanted to get a professional narrator and I remember saying, “Okay, there’s nobody that knows Tommy the way that I do and I’m not gonna give that up. It’s like, if you guys wanna do an audiobook either I’m going to do it or it’s not going to happen.” I started to get very ambitious though and was thinking: Tommy can play himself and then I’ll do my part. And Tommy said: (Greg Sestero doing a perfectly spot-on Tommy Wiseau impression) “That’s good idea let’s do it,” – And the publisher is like: No, So I thought, okay I’ll play Tommy. It was something that I knew was very personal and to me it was more about connecting to an audience listening to the book, I wanted to tell the story and I’m really happy that I did because a lot of people from all over the world have walked up and said, “You kept me company on a long road trip for twelve hours…”, and I feel like that is really a great way to connect with a reader.
I really enjoy the voice acting aspect because you don’t need to worry about being on camera or what you look like. You can really just bring these characters to life in a different way and I really enjoyed it.
How did you feel about Dave Franco’s portrayal of you in The Disaster Artist?
I really liked it and Dave is such a great guy. It’s funny because as I got to know James (Franco), I really connected to James in a different way but as I got to know Dave I felt like Dave and I were very close and James, well he connected to Tommy in a different way. So the relationship, and James is obviously – well he’s not Tommy but he can understand him and he can relate to him so I think the dynamic was great. And Dave, he just really got it and said: “Hey I wanted to become an actor too and I came to LA and do these movies that I think are gonna go somewhere and they’re just really bad..”, so he got it. And I found him really easy to talk to. I loved that he didn’t really know The Room when he came onboard. He watched it by himself in a hotel room and was like, “My brother wants to make a movie about this thing?”
And you were once in a Puppet Master film?
Yes, “Retro Puppet Master”. The very first thing I did, I booked it on Vine Street, only my fourth audition in LA, 600 actors and it was right before Christmas time so everyone was trying to get in this movie and I got it because I could do a French accent, or so I thought. People were coming up to me later and they were saying, “Nice German accent.” But we shot it in Romania and again, it was my first speaking role and I thought “Man, this is going to be huge.” And then you watch it and little by little you think, “Well, back to the drawing board.” But it was a great experience and there are some very, very passionate Puppet Master fans from all over the world and they still come up and they love to talk about it. James Franco actually auditioned for the same role, at the same time. We had some overlap.
Wait, that’s amazing. So you beat James Franco out for the role of Young André Toulon in Retro Puppet Master?
Well, if you want to look at it that way…
Oh I want to look at it that way! What initially lead to this interview was a statement you’d made online, that you were on edibles when you were first inspired and had the idea for this new project “Best F(r)iends”?
Yeah and I’m kind of a newcomer to the world of edibles, it was only a few years ago that I was going through a very stressful time and so I tried a THC infused edible and I started laughing at absolutely everything and it was a really unbelievable experience. I saw things differently and it was exactly what I needed. And then I tried a sativa edible and that was when things really started to get weird. I think I took a little too much and it was on the night of the Super Bowl. So I’m watching the Super Bowl and I started eating everything, I was eating all of these Skittles and for some reason Skittles, when you’ve had an edible, are the greatest thing ever. It got really strange, I stood up to watch the game, and so I’m standing very close to the TV and I’m watching the game and I guess my girlfriend was watching me and said, “What are you doing?” I watched the whole game standing in front of the TV. This was the 2015 Super Bowl with the Seattle Seahawks and The New England Patriots, and I started getting these visions and I knew what was gonna happen in the game and it even got to where I knew what the score was gonna be and I even knew New England was gonna win 28-24. I already knew the outcome as I was watching it and it was so strange. When the game was over I kept watching and looking on the TV and still trying to find the game on and searching for it, it was just such a bizarre night. So I took a bit of a break, and then I did a sativa edible again, and I was watching “Breaking Bad” and it took me two whole hours to eat dinner because I was just really enjoying every bite and I was also watching “The Jinx” on my laptop and just going back and forth between the two and I started to get really creative, What I noticed was, all the judgement I would normally have when I was working on writing something went out the window. Because a lot of times when you’re writing something you get halfway through and then think, “Well who’s gonna wanna see this? Why does this story matter and why when this character gets to this point, why doesn’t he just go to the police?” The story is over. You think through your story so much, you start to judge it, and that’s why a lot of things never get done. You start to not believe in what your doing. On that night so many things came to me, all these ideas and I thought about all these movies I loved, all these pieces, the friendship I had with Tommy and I started to think about this road trip years ago when he thought I was trying to kill him. And I just jumped into that and started writing and it just worked. The story, I stopped trying to think of an outline and having things make sense and just went for it, and once I got the ball rolling and went for it, it all just flowed and I had fun experiencing the story as it was coming. I didn’t try and over-analyze it. It put me in the right zone to where I was able to get through the story, see it, feel it and come up with an ending that I really believed in. When I finished it I really believed in it and wanted to make it. Something about the looseness. A lot of people refer to it as a kind of a David Lynch kind of film and the vibe is very surreal. It pulled me out of being in my head and just allowed me to flow.
Do you remember what the edibles were?
Yes. A chocolate, sativa Cheeba chew.
Oh nice, they’re very good. And they’re still around. (They even wound up being featured on the cover with Greg.) What would you like to tell us about the movie, Best F(r)iends?
Tommy’s character is named Harvey and he’s a mortician, so we actually shot a lot in this real life morgue. And his backstory is kind of clouded, he was involved somehow with The Black Dahlia who was murdered close to here years ago. And he was inspired to become a mortician after that. And in one scene he has a dead clown on the slab and he’s tending to him and it’s really weird scene, Then later there’s a dream sequence in which the clown wakes up and starts to attack him (Tommy’s character), and starts to choke him and it’s one of my favorite moments because when I watch it because when you see it with a real audience in a movie theater you hear a gasp of, “What?” And every time it’s worth it to have made this movie just to have been there with an audience experiencing that scene because it’s so strange.
Which brings us back to his new movie, “BEST F(R)IENDS” – Inspired by True Events, a Sestero Pictures Production.
He’s right. Best F(r)iends is very strange. Greg went on to tell us: “One of the best compliments I’ve had about the movie was, someone told me that after they watched it they felt drunk and stoned and they weren’t even on anything.” He mentioned that he’d been told that it reminds people of a David Lynch movie and it’s easy to understand why it would. It’s dark and surreal, similar in tone to a sort of Lynch-esque vibe. As soon as Tommy speaks, which is just a few minutes into the film, he says: “Welcome to my paradise. I’m very sorry to hear about your family. I cannot teach you ninja karate but I can give you a job.” He’s referencing Greg’s extra clever cardboard panhandling sign and the lines are delivered as only Wiseau can. He’s well cast in this and Sestero wrote the role specifically for him to play. An overly friendly but totally creepy mortician doing business out of a run down garage is a good part for Tommy. In The Room he plays a successful San Francisco banker despite looking and sounding like a Romanian death metal bass player. It’s well shot, looks and sounds like a real movie and is genuinely suspenseful. Like he said, Greg Sestero and Tommy Wiseau took a lot of road trips together in real life and on one of those trips, Wiseau became convinced Greg wanted to kill him. Those memories combined with Sestero’s Cheeba Chew fueled writing frenzy led him to create what some people are calling the spiritual sequel to The Room. It’s a creepy and funny, highly watchable film and it’s a must-see for fans of The Room and/or The Disaster Artist. I watched it high and had a great time. Greg Sestero is one of the most laid back dudes I’ve ever met and he was even cooler than I expected. He’s got a bestselling book that was adapted into an award winning movie and now has a two part film he wrote. Volume One will be online and on digital at the end of September and part 2 is coming in January 2019. Critics are saying good things about BF1 and audiences are loving it. It’s great to see someone take such a weirdly unconventional and unexpected, surrealistic journey and come out doing so well. Most people couldn’t spin the situation into gold quite the way he has. As Mark said in The Room, “People Are Very Strange These Days.” Good for Greg Sestero, a guy like him deserves it.
To see when and where you can watch Best F(r)iends, go to: bf-movie.com.
- Patrick Ian Moore
Patrick Ian Moore