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Q&A: Greg Sestero, co-star in “The Room”

Sestero attended a screening of the cult-classic film at the University of Minnesota on Saturday.
Image by Eleanor King
Sestero came to campus for the 20-year anniversary of “The Room.”

Hot off the celebrations from last year’s 20th anniversary of “The Room,” a cult-classic film, Greg Sestero, who plays the character Mark in the film, attended a screening of the film at the Coffman Memorial Union Theater on Saturday, providing live commentary and took questions from the audience before the showing.

Sestero’s 2013 memoir “The Disaster Artist,” a book about the making of “The Room” (which has been called “the Citizen Kane of bad movies”), was adapted into an Academy Award-nominated film directed by and starring James Franco in 2017.

Sestero has made feature films of his own in recent years, with his directorial debut “Miracle Valley” premiering at film festivals in 2021 and a UFO movie called “Forbidden Sky” currently in the works.

The Minnesota Daily spoke with Sestero ahead of his appearance at the Coffman Memorial Union Theater on Saturday.

The Minnesota Daily: I saw one interview where you said you had only seen “The Room” about five times yourself. Has that remained true?

Greg Sestero: “So as of last year I had only seen it a few times, but most recently with it being the 20th anniversary I have seen it more times. I will admit that the more I’ve seen it, the more enjoyable it’s become, oddly, especially with the crowd. Because the audiences in the room are so much fun, it’s almost a new experience every time. I realize that it is just a really fun movie, it’s a really fun communal experience.”

Daily: Do you have a favorite part of the movie or a favorite part that the audience always gets a kick out of?

Sestero: “I really enjoy the birthday party. That scene has so much going on and it feels like you’re at a birthday party. You go up on the roof, then you come back, there’s so many nuances that the crowd picks apart. So I’d say that’s definitely one of my favorites.”

Daily: The movie turned 20 years old last year. How has your relationship with the film evolved over time?

Sestero: “I think I’ve come to appreciate ‘The Room’ more over the past couple years, realizing that it’s a movie that brings a lot of people together, makes a lot of people happy. I think that any filmmakers, that’s what they hope their films do – obviously ‘The Room’ is unique in how it does that. But I’ve definitely come to appreciate it, especially seeing crowds around the world that come out to see it.”

Daily: As the movie became a cult classic in the 2000’s, did you have any idea that you might still be attending screenings for it with a bunch of fans 20 years after the fact?

Sestero: “No. Really I didn’t think that anybody would ever see it. So many movies come out every year, huge budgets, Marvels, dramas, you know movie-making has been an ongoing thing now for over 100 years. So especially making ‘The Room,’ being an indie film made with your friend, I never could have expected that, I don’t think anybody could have. But that’s sort of the beauty of cinema and art is you don’t know what’s gonna touch people.”

Daily: Shifting gears slightly, what was it like working with Tommy Wiseau again on his new movie “Big Shark”?

Sestero: “It’s always a fun experience working with Tommy. We made a movie called Best F(r)iends which he acted in, he was really funny and really engaging playing a mortician. With this movie I think he really goes all out and makes something that, again, ironically is very very fun with a crowd.”

Daily: How would you say the audience reaction has been to “Big Shark” versus “The Room”?

Sestero: “Well ‘The Room’ is, you know, it’s such a unique phenomenon in the way people respond to it and engage with it. So I think now, you know, Tommy is obviously very earnest in what he makes and he knows how to make something that the crowd gets excited by. I think it’s just for a different time, different era, I think both movies will play really well together and really give the audience when they leave the theater, they’re going to be feeling like ‘Wow, I don’t think I’ve ever experienced anything quite like that.” I think that’s what makes these movies unique, they’re not studio-driven, they’re truly coming from one mind whos sees the world in a very different way.”

Daily: You released your directorial debut “Miracle Valley” a couple of years ago, do you have any other creative projects in the works right now?

Sestero: “Yeah, I’m making a UFO abduction movie called ‘Forbidden Sky,’ and I’m gonna be making that later this year. We did a Kickstarter for it to involve the fans for the 20th anniversary and it was really great. A lot of people were excited for it. I’m also working on my Home Alone sequel that I wrote at 12-years-old called ‘Home Alone: Lost in Disney World.’”

Daily: Is it true that John Hughes wrote to you after you sent that screenplay in?

Sestero: “He did. It was a sequel I mailed to his production office in Lake Forest, Illinois. So he was shocked at how far I took it and sent me a really nice letter about how important it is to follow your dreams.”

Daily: Back to “The Room,” there’s the “The Room Returns!” remake starring Bob Odenkirk, the more dramatized version of it. You’re in that playing Chris R., right?

Sestero: “Yeah it was a charity shoot thing that they’re still kind of putting together. It was kind of a one-day thing for charity.”

Daily: What was your reaction when you heard about that concept coming to life?

Sestero: “It’s for a charity called amfAR, they take classic works like ‘Breakfast Club’, or ‘Great Gatsby’ and do a reading of it. So I thought, what a great honor, you know with it being ‘The Room’s’s 20th anniversary, to do something like that with it.”

Daily: What was it like celebrating the 20th anniversary last year for “The Room?”

Sestero: “It was great. I mean, just the support for it, it was screened around the country I think in 600 theaters. So many places around the world were now getting a chance to go. It’s really been a fun, fun journey to see where it started to see where it is now and the generations of people. Like families now, they saw ‘The Room’ when they were in their teens and now they have kids and it’s just a really, really cool full-circle moment.”

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