Picture this: an aspiring actor who’s been an extra in a few films, but is financially vulnerable, joins his eccentric friend’s passion project as a producer. Shooting starts, but said friend fires one of his lead actors. His reason is that no one’s going to see the movie and he agrees to take the role.
Almost two decades later, Greg Sestero found himself doing a mini-script reading and leading a Q&A to a sold out audience for a screening of said film, called “The Room,” which has been affectionately dubbed “the worst movie ever made” by critics and fans alike.
Last Friday, the Coolidge Corner Theatre hosted a midnight screening of “The Room” with one of the film’s stars, Sestero. Since its release in 2003, people continue to flock to theatres across the country for midnight screenings of the film.
“The Room” stars Tommy Wiseau, also the film’s writer and director, as a banker named Johnny. His dissatisfied girlfriend Lisa is played by Juliette Danielle and Johnny’s best friend Mark, whom Lisa is having an affair with, is played by Greg Sestero. “The Room” unintentionally manages to capture the absurdity of life in its portrayal of mundane relationship problems.
Jackson Machesky, a sophomore in the College of Communication, said he is a long-time fan of the movie and watched it for the first time when he was 16-years-old.
“I’ve always been a fan of really bad movies and “The Room” is a really bad, really good movie,“ Machesky said.
While midnight screenings are special events on their own, screenings of “The Room” follow their own traditions, including the act of spoon throwing.
The explanation for this tradition goes back to Wiseau. As written by Sestero in his book documenting the making of “The Room,” titled “The Disaster Artist,” when Wiseau was told by members of his crew that he needed to add decorations to his house set he simply went out and bought a store’s entire display case.
But instead of replacing the frames he bought with portraits of the actors, he kept the display pictures that came with the frames. Attendees in the know will bring boxes of plastic spoons to screenings, ready to chuck them at the screen whenever they spot framed pictures of spoons.
In Friday’s screening, there were times plastic spoons were thrown at random, alongside the occasional fork and the rare knife. It made the screening a chaotic symphony of hammed up acting and plastic utensils hitting the chairs and floor.
Natalie Busch, a 23-year-old Emerson College graduate who has been working at the Coolidge Corner Theater for two years, has often witnessed, and cleaned up after, sold out screenings of “The Room.”
“It’s just high intensity for a short period of time,” Busch said. “And then it’s a lot of cleanup afterwards if it’s sold out and especially for ‘The Room’ because of spoons and everything.”
But there’s more than just spoon throwing. During the frequent and repeated sex scenes in the movie, the audience would count each time the man would thrust, making a first-time viewer uncomfortable as the film spirals into sheer incoherence throughout its run time.
First-time viewers will also be subject to moments of confusion when certain Wiseauisms contained in the film’s script are echoed by audience members anticipating these moments.
After the movie ended with a standing ovation, Sestero appeared on-stage for the aforementioned Q&A and abridged script reading.
One audience member asked Sestero how he felt about Dave Franco’s performance of him in “The Disaster Artist,” a 2017 film depicting the events described in Sestero’s memoir about the making of “The Room.”
“He played me more optimistic than I had been,” Sestero said.
Regarding how the cast of “The Room” feels about each other now, Sestero said that “everyone’s cool,” and compared the process of working on the film, which suffered from Wiseau’s lack of familiarity with his own script among other issues.
Another audience member asked Sestero if he was grateful for “The Room” being made, despite the chaos that went into the production — Sestero’s response was “I’m just grateful to be alive.”
After the Q&A, Sestero headed to the lobby to sell copies of screenplays for “The Room” as well as Sestero’s own “Best F(r)iends,” another film with Wiseau and Sestero. Along with the screenplays, Sestero also signed spoons the audience members had picked up from the floor after the film and briefly spoke with fans one-on-one.
Mark Anastasio, special programming director at the Coolidge Corner Theatre, said since the theatre is a non-profit independent theatre, they rely on film lovers and moviegoers to keep the place open.
“There aren’t too many of those left, so we’re very thankful to the membership base that we have and our audiences for keeping us alive” Anastasio said. “We’re very fortunate that there’s a filmgoing community here in the Boston area that enjoys the shows that we put on and keep us motivated and keep us open.”
Even Sestero agrees.
“Support independent cinema,” Sestero said, “and support original films.”