OKLAHOMA CITY (Free Press) — Few actors can say with absolute certainty that their fans know every line, every movement, and even every single facial expression that they make in their most famous movie role. Few actors can say that they’ve sat in theaters all over the world and witnessed the devotion and joy from those fans firsthand.
But that’s only because few actors can say that they starred in one of the world’s greatest so-bad-it’s-good films.
As one of the leads in 2003’s “The Room,” — simultaneously one of the most infamously awful and universally beloved movies in history — actor/writer/director Greg Sestero has seen that joy countless times.
In advance of what will be his first-ever visit to OKC, Sestero chatted exclusively with me for Free Press on the phone from his home in Los Angeles to discuss not only the legendarily-crazy making of the film,
“All these years later, ’The Room’ is still selling out around the world and people still quote it and still talk about it. I get questions about it every day, you know, twenty years later.”
“The Room” may very well be this generation’s biggest and most ridiculous cult hit.
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For over a decade, audiences have flocked to theaters worldwide to participate in wild, raucous late-night screenings. Some bring costumes. Some bring props. Loads of people bring plastic spoons, a now-classic inside joke among die-hard fans. Everyone recites the lines and mimics the absurd, over-the-top emotional delivery of Tommy Wiseau, the film’s enigmatic (to say the least) director, writer, and unlikely star.
OKC fans will have the opportunity to join in the insanity themselves this weekend as Rodeo Cinema hosts a screening of the film along with an in-person Q&A with Mr. Sestero himself.
He talked about what he’s learned from the experience, and what advice he’d pass along to Oklahoma’s burgeoning filmmakers.
“You’ve got to have something to say as a filmmaker,” he told me. “Regardless of what ‘The Room’ is, or the quality of it, Tommy was somebody that had something he wanted to say. He wanted to put himself out there.”
The biggest lesson he learned from working with Wisseau, and one of the best things for young filmmakers to remember, is that it’s more important to find your audience than to play into what the powers-that-be might want.
“He’s just somebody that, at the time, couldn’t even get an agent, because it’s like ‘what do we do with this guy?’ Right?” Sestero said of Wisseau. “He wasn’t ‘cool’ in terms of what they thought cool was. But all of a sudden, you know, young filmmakers, young film students, they loved it, and they are the voice of where movies go. So they showed up, they told all their friends, you know, you got this young crowd pushing this movie and spreading it. It was really kept alive by the passion of the people because Tommy made something original.”
With the recent opening of Prairie Surf Studios downtown, and the growing critical acclaim of local filmmakers like Mickey Reece and local productions like FX’s “Reservation Dogs,” this seems like a perfect moment for a visit from someone so well-versed in the power and appeal of truly independent film.
“It’s teamwork and collaboration,” Sestero said. “I think the only way to make a film that I think people will watch, and hopefully like, is getting the right team behind it. There’s so many things in your mind that work for you, and you’ve got them figured out, but nobody else gets them. Getting more perspective and getting a team opinion and effort, I think, can really go a long way.”
Each of these lessons is something that Sestero has carried with him throughout his own career, not just as an actor and collaborator, but now as a writer and director in his own right. He recently decided to jump into the horror genre with an original movie that he helmed himself, the upcoming “Miracle Valley.”
“Horror has always been a genre that I think people are drawn to,” he said. “Regardless of actors or budget or whatever, people just love horror, so I thought that was what I wanted to do next. We had a good, balanced team, just looking through what we had and trying to tell the most effective, tight story. And that was a lot of fun.”
It’s clear that fun will always be the driving force behind Sestero’s journey through acting and filmmaking, and it’s the first thing that he comes back to every time he’s pressed for advice to the up-and-coming moviemaking community.
But there is one insight that will always keep him humble, and it’s something for which “The Room” and its remarkable life actually taught him better than any other experience: “The power of not knowing what you’re making at the time,” he said.
“So just make sure that you’re enjoying the process and that you’re putting everything you have into it.”
Rodeo Cinema will be hosting Greg Sestero this Saturday, September 4th, for a screening of “The Room,” a live Q&A with the audience, and another very special surprise that any fan won’t want to miss. Tickets are available now at rodeocinema.org.
Last Updated August 31, 2021, 9:36 PM by Brett Dickerson – Editor