James Franco Reveals Tommy Wiseau Originally Wanted Johnny Depp to Play Him In "The Disaster Artist"
James Franco talks about how he discovered "The Room," what it was like to stay in character on set as Tommy Wiseau and more in a new video interview with W's Lynn Hirschberg.
Released on 1/5/2018
I was late to the game on The Room,
it's been around for 14 years,
there was a billboard that Tommy paid for himself,
to have up on high land for five years
and it was like him with a lazy eyelid
sort of glaring down at you and it said The Room
and then there was a phone number and it was like, what?
What movie has a phone number on it?
I just always thought it was this weird cult,
just some odd LA thing, call the number
and this crazy, weird vampire
can be in your movie or something.
The book came out four years ago
and I'm like the only guy
that came to The Room through a book,
it was such an incredible, bizarre story,
unlike any other Hollywood story,
but underneath, it was so universal and moving,
because it's a story of outsider artist
trying to achieve their dreams.
I went to a midnight screening in Vancouver
and it was incredible, it was like an event,
spoons and footballs and tuxedos
and everyone yelling at the screen and lots of weed
and it was just incredible.
The first time I ever talked to Tommy
was on the phone to get his Life rights,
I didn't wanna suggest that I play him,
in case he didn't like that idea,
I had no idea what he was gonna think about that,
so I was very sheepish, he goes, So who'll play me?
I was like, well, I don't know, Tommy, I don't know,
Well, how about Johnny Depp?
(laughs) and I laughed, he's like, Why?
and he was immediately like, Why are you laughing?
and I'm like, well, Johnny Depp's
like the biggest movie star in the world,
I don't know, and I was like trying to change the subject,
We go back to before, I said Johnny Depp and you laugh,
why are you laughing?
I'm like, (laughs)
I'm like, alright, Tommy, I'll ask Johnny Depp,
we'll see if he'll do it,
You don't go down that road,
you don't know at end of alley, you know,
and I'm like, very wise Tommy, yeah, very wise,
Tommy had watched my TV movie of James Dean
many times, but I didn't know that and Tommy goes,
Yeah, James, I've seen your stuff, you know,
you did some good things, you did some bad things,
I'm like, okay, thanks, yeah,
coming from you, Tommy, thanks man,
Yeah, maybe I'll direct you in a movie someday,
and I'm, yeah, okay, okay, maybe,
but then later I learned that the two people,
that he wanted were Johnny Depp and me.
When I first read the book,
that idea that Tommy is unlike any other person,
this story is unlike any other story,
but underneath, I could completely relate
and I realized that this
is an incredibly personal story for me.
We premiered it at the Chinese Theater,
when Tommy premiered The Room, he premiered it
at this theater on Beverly called the Laemmle Fairfax,
but he drove in his stretch white limo,
he had made all these T-shirts for The Room
and he drove to the Chinese Theater,
popped out of the sunroof
and threw his Room shirts at everybody
outside the Chinese Theater and that night said,
Hi, don't go see that movie, come see my movie,
and then there we were 14 years later
at the Chinese Theater premiering a movie about his life,
it was kind of incredible.
When Tommy introduced his movie 14 years ago,
he said, This my movie,
this my life, be cool,
and I'll say the same thing,
this my movie, this my life, be cool.
I famously stayed in character both in front of the camera
and behind the camera, when I was directing.
I learned later my brother and Seth would warn people,
they'd be like, Alright, before you go on set,
just realize it's a little weird,
James is you know, directing as Tommy,
they would show up and just be like,
What the F, like this is insane,
but I think it also just helped the vibe
and like to be Tommy, I think just created an atmosphere.