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5 revelations about The Room (from The Disaster Artist)

A new book goes behind the scenes of this horrendous drama-turned-cult-classic film with its costar Greg Sestero.

Photographs: Tommy Wiseau: Greg Sestero; Greg Sestero: Michael Dar
The Room, a bizarre dramatic film about a San Francisco banker named Johnny and his unfaithful wife, was released in 2003. This vanity project for writer, director, producer and star Tommy Wiseau failed as a conventional movie in nearly every way—and is hilarious because of it. Viewers who discovered The Room’s camp qualities subsequently made the flop into a cult classic, spawning midnight screenings and various other tributes including a computer game. A new memoir, The Disaster Artist by The Room costar Greg Sestero and journalist Tom Bissell, dishes about the making of the beloved bad movie; here are five of its most intriguing tidbits.

1 Though Wiseau spent $6 million of his money making the movie (which made only $1,600 in its initial run), no one knows where he is from or how he amassed his fortune.

2 Sestero says Juliette Danielle, who plays Lisa, was the only actor who tolerated “the meat-grinding torture of Tommy’s casting process.”

3 The scene in which Johnny secretly records Lisa as she admits to cheating on him was inspired by real life. Sestero found tapes that Wiseau made, containing hours of private phone conversations—some of which featured Sestero.

4 The heavily accented and emotionally tone-deaf Wiseau was prone to gaffes. One of the film’s four successive directors of photography, Raphael Smadja, set up a private tent on set so that he could laugh at the latest footage of Wiseau, undetected.

5 Johnny’s famous line “You’re tearing me apart, Lisa!” was taken from a performance Wiseau loves: James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause. Even so, Wiseau’s climactic scene took many attempts to film; Wiseau kept saying, “You’re taking me apart, Lisa!”

Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell appear at the powerHouse Arena Thu 3.