We sat down with Greg Sestero for an interview before the launch of his first film since The Room, Best F(r)iends.
Hey, good to see you.
You too. Best Friends. I’ve got to start at the beginning, because right at the start it says ‘Inspired by true events’. What are those true events?
So, Tommy and I went on a road trip years ago, like in 2003. Up the Californian coast. I thought we were just going up there to have a good time; he thought I was going up there to try and kill him. And I wasn’t, but that was the way he saw it. So when I was writing the script, I thought, what could I pull from that? So that’s how the story started.
Wow. So how similar then is the relationship between Harvey and John in Best F(r)iends to you and Tommy in real life?
There are definitely similarities. I think that’s why we’re so lucky: our friendship just lends itself to storytelling. I think The Room – while obviously inspired by Tommy’s real life experiences – he wrote while we were friends, which I think bled into it. ‘The Disaster Artist’ is obviously a book about all that. Best F(r)iends is pulled from that. As a character-based story, with Tommy and I being such different characters, it’s easy to write.
In the opening sequence of The Disaster Artist film, different celebrities talk about The Room, and they say even the best directors couldn’t do something like it. Yet with Best F(r)iends, you manage to capture that quirkiness, that uniqueness. What was your writing process for it?
I think ‘The Disaster Artist’ really helped with learning how to write the character of Tommy. When I set out to write Best F(r)iends it was about writing a character that Tommy could inhabit that would feel natural to him. And I feel like he hadn’t been utilised properly in a film. So I placed him as a mortician, which I felt like he could show up and be himself and play to his advantage. And so because I know that character so well, it was relatively easy to write.
I look at these films and they almost do feel like they’re a genre of their own. Do you feel like other people could replicate it? Or do you think it’s just a chemistry that you and Tommy share?
Yeah I think it’s just a unique chemistry. It’s just two guys who should never normally be friends, but they share a common dream. Years of being roommates and taking road trips – I think a chemistry has been built up that’s hard to emulate.
Sure. What do you hope viewers get out of watching Best F(r)iends?
I hope they show up and feel an element of surprise. The Room has been something that has done its thing for 15 years. It surprised audiences initially, and I hope Best F(r)iends takes audiences in a direction that’s equally enjoyable. I hope the quality is elevated, and the audience take something different from it. I hope they get laughs and are intrigued by what the story’s saying.
You were inspired to act after watching Home Alone. Talk me through that.
It’s funny you say that, because just last week I got to go on Macaulay Culkin’s podcast. I wrote that script when I was 12 years old, and that was the dream: meet Macaulay Culkin and work with him. So we got to talk about it.
I love Christmas. I wasn’t interested in what I was doing at school. And I kind of needed a place I could disappear to. When I saw Home Alone, it struck up some place in my imagination, and I wanted to do something with that. So I ended up writing a screenplay with a role for myself opposite Macaulay Culkin, and I submitted it to John Hughes. The whole thing made me realise I wanted to do something creative.
John Hughes responded, didn’t he?
Yeah. Macaulay Culkin said that’s something John would do – he’s a very sweet man. And it made me think, oh wow, maybe this could get made. I mean, obviously it didn’t, but it still gave me that hope that I think you need when you’re trying to do something creative.
On that topic of directors and actors, do you have any you’d particularly like to work with in the future?
Yeah, I’ve always been a big fan of David Fincher, Dan Gilroy, Edgar Wright. Filmmakers that really take risks. It’s something to really to look up to.
Do you have a type of role you’d like to play that you haven’t done before?
Yeah, I’d like to do something totally different. I think what I loved about James Franco in The Disaster Artist was playing totally against type. Really stripping everything down and being raw, really connecting with a character that’s very different from you, that you related to, that you can bring to life, that you can have fun with. So I’d like to play something totally against type… whatever that may be.
Do you have any advice for aspiring filmmakers and actors?
I think just get out there and make something. Don’t try get it right first time. We live in a time now where you can make films, short films, and you can grab a camera or phone. Grab a group of people together who all want to be creative in different ways and make something.
I love Best F(r)iends. But the highlight for me was when ‘Volume One’ came up at the end. What can we expect from Volume Two?
Wow. Volume Two is crazy in a different way. It’s my favourite thing I’ve ever worked on. It’s really doing its own thing in terms of the characters that come in and out. It’s very very strange. I think a lot of the inspiration behind that was Breaking Bad, Psycho. More psychological films. I’m excited to unleash it, it’s gonna be great.
I’m excited to watch. So there was quite a space between The Room and your next project, which was Best F(r)iends. Do you have the next project in mind or are you just going to take a breath for a second?
I really want to make a horror film, that’s the next thing I want to do. We’re still finalising Volume Two, which will be coming out in the Fall – around October/November in Australia. And then I think a little break before I go make a horror film.
Do you have any ideas for the horror film?
I got a couple. I’ve got to figure out which direction to go in.
Cool. Do you plan on continuing to work with Tommy? Will he feature in your next project?
Well we completed the trilogy: The Room, Disaster Artist, and Best F(r)iends.
I think it’s about finding a story you want to tell and then going from there.
Makes sense. Is there anything else you’d like to add before we wrap up?
Best F(r)iends is out now. So if you want to watch something very different, check it out. Prepare to be estranged when you walk in.
Well Greg, thanks so much for everything. And thanks for the film – I love it.
Awesome, thanks guys.
Hope you enjoyed this Greg Sestero interview. For a spoiler free, mini review of Best F(r)iends, click here.