James Franco portrays Tommy Wiseau in The Disaster Artist, but had Wiseau gotten his way, Johnny Depp would have led the film.
Franco and Wiseau have been conducting a variety of interviews at the Toronto International Film Festival this week, and in one with Vanity Fair, Franco revealed that Wiseau suggested Johnny Depp play him during their first phone call.
“I laughed,” Franco said. “And he said, ‘Why are you laughing?’ I said, ‘I don’t know, dude. He’s a big movie star. He’s in Pirates of the Caribbean.’ Then Greg [Sestero] said, ‘What about you, James?’”
So the team behind The Disaster Artist never even bothered approaching Johnny Depp, probably aware of the fact that they likely couldn’t afford him even if he wanted to do it. James Franco was also already hoping to play Wiseau himself, though he did not reveal that during the first call. When Greg Sestero suggested that Franco should star in the film, Tommy Wiseau was fine with it.
“He said, ‘Yeah, James, I’ve seen your stuff. You’ve done some good things, some bad things,'” Franco told Vanity Fair.
In a separate interview with The Los Angeles Times, Tommy Wiseau revealed that he trusted his story to James Franco because he is a big fan of the 2002 Nicolas Cage film Sonny, a crime drama that received almost universally negative reviews at the time of its release.
“Because this movie, you have everything there,” Wiseau said of Sonny. “Drama, you have comedy, you have sexuality, you have relationships, you have…all kinds of different detailed stuff. Detail, detail, detail. The Room, people laughing this, laughing that…we also have detail, detail, detail. That’s why your movie, I knew that – I said, ‘You’ll be doing a good job.'”
Franco in this interview expressed his surprise that Sonny was the one movie in his entire filmography that Wiseau latched on to.
“I had no idea when I did Sonny and five people watched it, that one of those five people would be Tommy, and that that would leave us to here,” Franco said.
The Disaster Artist tells the story of the making of The Room, which is considered to be one of the worst movies ever made. It’s based on the book of the same name, which was written by The Room co-star Greg Sestero. While the book reveals some fascinating behind-the-scenes tidbits about the making of the movie, it also goes into detail about the unlikely, strange friendship between Tommy Wiseau and Greg Sestero, and based on the first full trailer for The Disaster Artist, it appears that the film adaptation will have the same focus.
Also starring in The Disaster Artist are Dave Franco, Seth Rogen, Josh Hutcherson, Zac Efron, and Alison Brie. The movie will hit theaters on December 1.