TIFF 2017: Five things you missed at The Disaster Artist premiere

Fans lined up for hours to see James Franco walk the red carpet with The Room director Tommy Wiseau


Tommy Wiseau’s notorious 2003 film The Room almost instantly earned the distinction of being the Citizen Kane of bad movies, but didn’t receive an official screening in Toronto until 2009.

Since then, the cult classic’s reputation has continued to grow, to the point that James Franco has adapted The Room star Greg Sestero’s making-of book into a movie that had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival’s Midnight Madness program.

Franco, who also stars as Wiseau, was on hand Monday night at The Disaster Artist’s debut, along with castmates Dave Franco (his brother), Ari Graynor, Alison Brie and Paul Scheer. Though he wasn’t officially listed to walk the red carpet, Wiseau did turn up. (Lest any of the film’s die-hard fans were concerned, Chloe Sevigny’s Instagram confirmed he was in town). As the movie shows, he is mysteriously wealthy and secretive about his age and heritage, but the premiere offered no further clarity on any of those counts. During the Q&A a fan point-blank asked him to reveal the secrets and, as you would expect, Wiseau brushed aside inquiry with a dismissive “who cares?”

If you didn’t make it out for the super-sold out screening, here’s what you missed.

1. A totally insane lineup, even by TIFF standards

The Ryerson Theatre is a 1,200 seater and thus the site of many big premieres at TIFF. Seasoned Midnight Madness-goers know that long lines are par for the course, but The Room fans didn’t fuck around. A TIFF volunteer informed people standing at the back of the line, which wrapped from the Gerard entrance all the way to Gould and Victoria, that people began lining up before 5 pm.

2. Footballs of all sizes

The Room is about a confusing love triangle, but what fans love are all the continuity issues, the weirdly directed performances and non-sequitors that have become not only catchphrases, but excuses to throw shit at screenings. One of the most famous scenes features a group of guys awkwardly tossing a football around at close range, so naturally The Disaster Artist’s distributor had a promo team in blonde and black wigs handing out mini-footballs, though fans seemed to keep those to themselves. Instead, they smacked around a giant inflatable football while waiting for the movie to start.

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The Room director Tommy Wiseau attends The Disaster Artist premiere at TIFF 2017

3.  Wiseau admitting he originally wanted Johnny Depp to play him, not Franco

Wiseau immediately stole the spotlight during the Q&A, drinking in his rock-star entrance moment as chains and belts dangled from his waist. He commandeered the mic from programmer Peter Kuplowsky to ask questions, and immediately drew unintentional laughter when he mistook screenwriter Michael Weber for a cast member. “I’m the cowriter,” he said, flatly. “I’m not in the cast.”

Franco recounted calling Wiseau to tell him he wanted to make Sestero’s book in to a movie. “I’ve seen your stuff. You do some good things and some bad things,” Wiseau told the movie star-turned-director, before stating that Johnny Depp would be his first choice to play him. “If you don’t go down that road, you never know, right?” he told Franco.

4. Homoerotic tension between brothers

The Disaster Artist shows how Wiseau became extremely jealous of Sestero, his good friend and roommate when they started working on The Room. When Sestero (played by Dave Franco) announces he’s moving in with his girlfriend, Wiseau can’t hide his jealousy and takes it out on the cast and crew.

And a James Franco movie wouldn’t be a James Franco movie without some light homoeroticism. A fan asked Franco if there were any conflicts during the making of The Disaster Artist and he seemed to pause while holding back laughter. “It was a pretty good shoot,” he replied. “It got a little weird because there’s a little sexual tension [in the film] and it’s [with] my brother,” he said. “I was not aware of that,” Dave responded. “I just didn’t know the tension existed.”

“As oblivious as Greg was,” Franco quipped.

5. Wiseau revealing the one thing he hates about The Disaster Artist

The one thing Tommy Wiseau apparently did not like was how the The Disaster Artist portrayed him as utterly unable to catch a football – though that may not be his final answer on that point.

When Franco told Wiseau he heard that The Room director loved the movie “99 per cent,” Wiseau responded: “Ninety-nine-point-nine per cent.”

“What’s the point one per cent?” Franco asked.

“The football.”

“You changed [your answer]!” Franco said, with a knowing grin. “I call bullshit!”

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Tommy Wiseau and The Room actor Greg Sestero on the red carpet

Read our review of The Disaster Artist here.

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