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James and Dave Franco tell one of Hollywood's weirdest stories in 'The Disaster Artist'

Dave Franco, left, as Greg Sestero and James Franco as Tommy Wiseau in
Dave Franco, left, as Greg Sestero and James Franco as Tommy Wiseau in "The Disaster Artist."
Justina Mintz
Dave Franco, left, as Greg Sestero and James Franco as Tommy Wiseau in
A scene from "The Disaster Artist."
Justina Mintz
Dave Franco, left, as Greg Sestero and James Franco as Tommy Wiseau in
James Franco directed and stars in "The Disaster Artist."
Justina Mintz

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There are good movies and bad movies, and a lot that fall somewhere in between. But the 2003 film, “The Room,” is in a class all its own.

Starring and directed by Tommy Wiseau, an enigmatic aspiring actor and first-time filmmaker, “The Room” is widely considered one of the worst films in modern Hollywood history.

If you're not familiar with the film, this short (and now famous) clip will give you an idea:

But after a disastrous theatrical release in Los Angeles 14 years ago, “The Room” took on a life of its own. The incoherent storyline, bad acting and cheap sets made it really, really funny.

The film built a cult following and is now regularly celebrated in raucous, interactive midnight screenings around the world.

And in 2013, Greg Sestero, Wiseau’s friend and the film’s co-star, enlisted the help of journalist Tom Bissell to write a book about his experience making “The Room.” The book is called “The Disaster Artist” and that’s where actor/director James Franco comes in.

Franco says that after he read the book, he knew he wanted to make a film about the making of "The Room," and he knew he could find his way into the role of Tommy.

Franco's new film is called "The Disaster Artist." He plays Tommy Wiseau; Franco's brother, Dave, plays Greg Sestero. At the recent Vuture Festival in Hollywood, The Frame host John Horn spoke with the Franco brothers about the film.

Interview highlights:

On the story they wanted to tell with "The Disaster Artist":

James Franco: This was a Hollywood story that was so bizarre, this was a character that was so unique, and in some ways kind of ridiculous, in his seeming lack of perspective of himself — of how weird and thin his kind of lies were about himself ... He was obviously at least in his late 40s when he made the movie, [but] said that he was in his 20s or whatever; or the almost scary mystery of where the money came from. So I knew that, at one level, we would have a Hollywood story that was so unique, unlike any Hollywood story, that would just be interesting and fun to re-create. On another level, we had a story line that was full of heart, that we could make very sympathetic and relatable.

Dave Franco: It would have been very easy for us to make a movie that was more of a parody, where it was making fun of Tommy and making fun of "The Room" and everyone involved, but that was never the intention. We really used the book as a template. You read that book, and yes it's very funny and weird, but by the end, you're strangely inspired by it all. And that's what we wanted to tap into, where this is a celebration of "The Room." We love "The Room," we've seen "The Room" more than any movie that's ever been made. And there's something to be said about that ... and at a certain point, if a movie's that watchable, when can we start calling it a good movie?

On how much they related to the story personally as actors and filmmakers:

Dave Franco: As much as all of us don't want to admit that we all have some Tommy Wiseau in us, I think we have more than we think. I've been on many sets where I thought things were going great. People on set were talking about awards and I bought into the hype, and then the movie would come out and not only was it not good, it was a piece of s---. And that's just the nature of what we do, though. I put just as much into that role as I did into another role where the movie turned out well, and so you question, Is what I'm doing actually good, or is this a total mess? You just kind of have to have this blind optimism and hope that whatever you're working on is going to turn out well. 

James Franco: That's the artist's plight. That's one of the reasons "The Disaster Artist" is such a great story to tell. As an artist, you put yourself out there. As a creative person, you put yourself out there. If you're in the movie or television business, you're hopefully at least thinking about the audience a little bit, and if an audience doesn't respond or whatever, yeah it hurts a little bit, you know?

To hear the full interview with James Franco and Dave Franco, click the play button above.

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