Why an actor from what's known as a lousy movie still tours 15 years later to speak to fans

The Room's Greg Sestero was in Calgary this week to talk about the film as The Fifth Reel movie club celebrates five years of cult classic awesomeness.

Greg Sestero has only seen The Room 3 times, but his role in it has impacted the actor's career for 15 years

Why The Room still draws an audience

6 years ago
Duration 2:48
Featured VideoGreg Sestero has only seen The Room three times, but his role in what's known to be a lousy movie has followed the actor's career since its release in 2003. He was in Calgary this week to talk about it as The Fifth Reel movie club celebrates five years of cult classic awesomeness.

The Room is known as a terrible movie, but every year fans still gather in movie theatres or living rooms around the world to take in the cult classic.​

The 2003 independent erotic drama was written, directed and produced by Tommy Wiseau, who also stars in the film about a melodramatic love triangle between a banker, his fiancée and his friend.

That's where Greg Sestero comes in. He's the conflicted friend — both in the real world and on the silver screen. Sestero thought he would help out his "wacky friend" with his project and quest for Oscar gold.

But the film got awful reviews.

"It was a movie that I didn't think people were going to see," Sestero told The Homestretch.

What they could never guess though was that movie was labelled as being so "awful" it actually worked on a comedic level. And fans couldn't get enough of it. 

"They did a study recently where highly intelligent people are drawn to bad movies. I didn't know there was a thing for bad movies until The Room, but there is. There's just a fascination," said Sestero.

"Especially with The Room, you're watching someone really try to make a searing drama, like Tennessee Williams, and they end up with this perfect comedy."

Calgary fans couldn't get enough of Greg Sestero's reading of The Room during his visit to Calgary. (Monty Kruger/CBC)

That's why The Fifth Reel movie club — which hosts viewings of iconic films in pop culture with a bit of live music and booze — decided to show it, and have kept doing so over the years. The audience is always encouraged to participate during the screenings, especially in a scene where spoons are thrown as the utensil makes a decorative cameo. 

To celebrate their fifth anniversary, they brought Sestero to Calgary to do a live reading of The Room.

But it also gave Sestero the opportunity to show his projects that came after The Room. He made a book about the weird production of the film, which was turned into a movie starring James Franco called The Disaster Artist that opened to good reviews this month.

"It was championed by the people, and it really continued to grow in an organic way," said Sestero.

After seeing the film, and how Franco portrayed the ever-eccentric Tommy Wiseau, Sestero said he gained a deeper understanding of his strange friendship.

"It helped me understand him more, and I realized all he wanted was a chance," said Sestero. "So I thought, what if you put him in a role that he fits, make it a serious art film, and see if you can actually get something interesting out of him."

So Sestero flipped the scenario and wrote and co-produced a new film called Best F(r)iends, which stars both himself and Tommy Wiseau, that was inspired by a road trip the pair took after filming The Room. It's expected to hit theatres next year. 

"So [Tommy] worked really hard, and I'm proud of him," said Sestero. "I'm glad we didn't let The Room define us. I'm glad we gave it another shot."

Greg Sestero has a little fun with Calgary fans of The Room during a live reading held at the Globe Cinema on Wednesday. (Monty Kruger/CBC)

With files from Monty Kruger