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Cult of ‘The Room’ cheers ‘Artist’ – Strangeness abounds in Franco’s latest

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TORONTO, Sept 13, (Agencies): The spoon-throwing, football-tossing cult of “The Room” was out in full force at the premiere of James Franco’s “The Disaster Artist”, a making-of movie that earned the blessing of the notorious film’s creator Tommy Wiseau.

“The Disaster Artist” premiered at a midnight screening early Tuesday at a raucous “Tommy!”-chanting audience at the Toronto International Film Festival. The film, which Franco directed and stars in as Wiseau, chronicles the creation of one of the most famously bad movies ever made.

But 2003’s “The Room” became an object of deep affection for moviegoers who cackle through late-night screenings of the film with a host of rituals. Wiseau, who was greeted by fans like a rock star, told Franco that he was 99.9 percent pleased with “The Disaster Artist”. He objects primarily to the way Franco depicts him throwing a football, though Franco claimed Wiseau’s 0.1 percent dissatisfaction was inconsistent lighting.

Wiseau hopped around the stage, introducing the cast of “The Disaster Artist” and later claiming that he would one day turn the tables on Franco and direct him in a movie.

“Eventually I will, probably”, said Wiseau.

“The Disaster Artist”, which A24 will release Dec 1, is in the mold of the B-movie tribute “Ed Wood”: a Hollywood tale about a quixotic, perhaps misguided character aspiring to make it in Hollywood. It’s based on the 2013 book “The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made” by “Room” actor and Wiseau’s friend Greg Sestero.

The making of “The Disaster Artist” had its own quirks. Wiseau initially hoped Johnny Depp would play him. Wiseau was on the fence about Franco, who recalled Wiseau telling him in their first conversation, “I’ve seen your stuff James. You’ve done some good things and some bad things”.

Franco largely stayed in character, shifting between playing Wiseau and directing the film. That meant Franco, with a wig of long black hair, was often directing actors as Wiseau, and in his unique, famously undefined accent. (Wiseau has long maintained he’s from New Orleans, but his origins are largely shrouded in mystery.) The experience, said Dave Franco (who plays Sestero), was “as weird as you would expect”.


“It just made sense to go Daniel Day-Lewis”, Franco said in an interview, chuckling. “Why waste the energy to pull out? I figured hopefully I’ll give a little bit better direction than Tommy gave on ‘The Room’”.

But while “The Disaster Artist” very much plays the tale for laughs, it also has affection for its characters. Franco says Wiseau’s “Dostoevskian struggle” is that “he’s wrestling to be something he’s not”.

“Despite what he looks like and sounds like and his age, Tommy thinks that he’s James Dean”, said Franco.

That was something Franco could understand. Franco, himself, played Dean in a 2001 biopic.

“I have to admit, I relate to Tommy in a lot of ways”, said Franco. “He’s a dreamer and he willed his movie into being. After everyone told him no, he still made it happened. I can relate to that, and I can even relate to a lot of the madness and the crazy self will run riot that he fell into”.

It may sound odd, but inhabiting Wiseau has been a kind of watershed experience for the 39-year-old actor-filmmaker. While Franco had previously made a blizzard of films at once — including a number of more literary adaptations (“Child of God”, “As I Lay Dying”, “The Sound and the Fury”) — “The Disaster Artist” marks a new chapter for Franco in sustained attention and an effort to reach a broad audience as a filmmaker.

“I wasn’t trying to do five million projects at one time. I was just focused on the one thing”, said Franco. “I said, ‘James, you’ve been doing these little projects for a long time now. Look at (‘Disaster Artist’ producer and co-star Seth Rogen). He’s been able to make movies at the studio level and still make what he wants to make’”.

It’s just one more unintended consequence of “The Room”, the worst movie to ever give so much joy to so many.

James Franco comes to life as the abundantly strange Tommy Wiseau in A24’s official trailer for “The Disaster Artist”, which premiered Monday at the Toronto Film Festival.

The trailer begins with Wiseau and Greg Sestero (portrayed by Dave Franco) bonding over their dream to make it in Hollywood.

“We’ll be famous; we’ll show show them”, they say.

There are several scenes of Franco yelling “Stella!”; he also attempts to impress the real-life Judd Apatow with a recitation of Hamlet’s “To be, or not to be” soliloquy in a restaurant, prompting Apatow to say, “It’s not going to happen for you, not in a million years”.

“What about after that?” Franco responds.

Franco’s Wiseau then sets about making “The Room”, which he asserts is a story about an all-American hero named Johnny. “Also, maybe Johnny is vampire, we’ll see”, he adds.


LOS ANGELES: A24 and DirecTV have bought US rights on the British drama “The Children Act”, starring Emma Thompson, Stanley Tucci, and Fionn Whitehead.

“The Children Act” premiered on Sept 10 at the Toronto Film Festival in the Special Presentations section. Directed by Richard Eyre from a script by Ian McEwan and based on McEwan’s novel, the story centers on a high-court judge who finds personal and professional crises colliding when forced to rule in the case of whether a couple who are Jehovah’s Witnesses can be permitted to deny a life-saving blood transfusion to their leukemia-stricken 17-year-old son, played by Whitehead.

Thompson’s character is married to her work, which has become a problem for her husband, played by Tucci, who announces that he wants to have an affair — resulting in his being kicked out so she can focus on her current case.

Peter Debruge of Variety gave the film a strong review at Toronto: “Told with a depth of empathy so profound — and so British — that a rather sizable segment of the viewing public will either reject or ignore it outright, “The Children Act” is that rarest of things: an adult drama, written and interpreted with a sensitivity to mature human concerns — not just the quite personal complexities of maintaining a 30-year relationship with no children of their own, but the more broad-reaching tension between the law and firmly held religious belief”.

The news was first reported by Deadline Hollywood.