The cinematic legacy of actor Greg Sestero has endured as one that, above all else, is uniquely his own.
He's most known for playing Mark in the infamous film The Room. Alongside cult figure Tommy Wiseau, Sestero took part in one of the strangest and most enduring films of the 21st century.
The film found unexpected success when, after premiering in 2003 in a couple theaters in Los Angeles to… less than stellar reviews, it gained cult status through word of mouth. Sestero wrote a book about making the film called The Disaster Artist, which James Franco then adapted into a film of the same name.
Since then, Sestero has kept working. He made an appearance in the Netflix series The Haunting of Bly Manor, worked on a handful of other films with Wiseau, and recently completed his directorial debut Miracle Valley.
The trailer for the horror film, which Sestero also wrote and stars in to complete the trifecta, hails it as being "from the survivor of The Room." The tongue-in-cheek description is a perfect encapsulation of how Sestero feels about the whole being in the most iconic "so bad it's good" film thing.
He still tours around and does Q&As with the film that made him a household name, at least in very offbeat households. He's making one such appearance at The Grand's "An Evening Inside The Room With Greg Sestero," just in time for the holidays on Friday, December 17.
I spoke with Sestero over the phone about the appearance. He was candid and, honestly, pretty chill about his life's unexpected directions. Case in point: before I had talked with him he said he had just finished trying stand-up comedy for the first time. He performed a set at the show of none other than Neil Hamburger, the character created by Gregg Turkington of On Cinema at the Cinema.
"After all these years of speaking on stage and telling stories, it was actually way more comfortable than I expected," Sestero said. "When I was growing up, I was like the shyest person in class. I didn't even want to raise my hand, and I'm now going up on stage to do stand-up comedy. It just goes to show with any art, the more you practice you're gonna find your groove."
Sestero was keeping busy—just before doing his set, he had come off a screening of Miracle Valley, a film that he describes as "being about a cult in the desert, sort of along the lines of The Hills Have Eyes." He made it right before the pandemic and is now hoping to get it seen by broader audiences.
"We've been doing test screenings, advance screenings, festivals, and we're hoping for it to come out later next year," Sestero said. "People are really stoked, and it's really great with a crowd. A lot of laughs and cheers. I seem to bring out an infectious crowd"—he then laughed—"so I don't know how that all worked out, but with this movie, cinema is always the way to go."
Now that he has his own film coming out, Sestero's experience in The Room remains one he has worked to make the most of.
"The Room was a movie we all made when nobody knew who we were and we thought we had no chance to make it. I think I've sort of survived whatever that experience was," Sestero said. "I was able to take that experience and turn it into something that people really responded to, with a New York Times bestselling book, then an Oscar-nominated film."
Most notable for him is how he took the notoriety he got from The Room and found his way into Mike Flanagan's horror series The Haunting of Bly Manor. Sestero was left unnamed as the fiancé—he's seen in a few flash-forward scenes that bookend the series.
"That was incredible. I was doing a horror convention, which I had never done before," Sestero said. "I was approached by Kate [Siegel, the collaborator and wife of Mike Flanagan]. She said, 'My husband and I really enjoyed your book. Would you want to have a cameo on this new show?' I was stunned; it felt too good to be true. Especially in this business, that doesn't happen a lot. I got to work on the show in Vancouver and connect with Mike. It was a great surprise for a lot of people watching it."
It was an unexpected payoff more than a decade in the making.
"It was the first time for Tommy or I that we had a role in a legit show. Obviously, it all traced back to The Room," Sestero said. "I joked for a long time that The Room was not a movie that'll ever get you a part. Then here I was on Netflix's biggest show of 2020; I thought that was kind of funny. It was great to work with a great filmmaker like Mike."
As for touring around with the film that made him and Wiseau cult famous, Sestero said the past year has made him reflect differently on its legacy.
"Over the pandemic, I've thought a lot about just how far The Room has traveled and what it has done. Just how much it has meant to people," Sestero said. "Just to get back out there, I had a new appreciation for The Room and how many young people are coming to it. This movie is like a big thing for all these new generations. I've kind of developed a new perspective on it. Now that I've gone on to make my own film—I did the whole Wiseau thing of writing, directing, and starring—I had a new appreciation of how hard it is to make something that people watch. Let alone watch for nearly 20 years."
But does Sestero himself watch the movie that often? Not really.
"I've seen it probably like six times with a crowd. I don't think I've ever watched it on my own," he said. "I've not watched it many times at all. I mean, I peek in there a few times with a crowd toward the end. It's amazing what people come up with, the different crowds."
Sestero said he can't be sure exactly how many times Wiseau has seen The Room as his co-star also was involved in the post-production process.
"I'm sure he's probably seen it 50 times or 100 times," Sestero said.
I figured I had to ask Sestero what his favorite cult film is—he couldn't say The Room since he was in it—and his pick wasn't what I expected.
“At one point, Fight Club was a cult film. People wanted to have the shirt and dress up like the character," Sestero said. "But it's a far bigger film in scope obviously, and it's brilliant in every possible way. Fight Club was a movie when I was 22 I would watch when I didn't like my job, and I would come home and watch it every night and pretend I was Tyler Durden."
When asked about how Wiseau is doing, Sestero said he is doing well and that the two of them keep in touch.
"He's hanging in there. I think he's pretty adaptable. It's been, what, 23 years? I think we're like family at this point," Sestero said. "You go through your dysfunctional phase, and then you're kind of intertwined. After this many years, it's kind of crazy how long this has all gone on."
"With the book, it was a story that needed to be told... I wanted to be honest with them that this is what it was like to go to Hollywood to make your dreams come true."
As for what comes next, Sestero is setting his sights on, well, the final frontier: space.
"The next thing I'm working on is a UFO abduction film which I hope to make later next year," Sestero said. He might even make his way back through the Pacific Northwest to do some research on prime UFO locations.
Unless you end up coming across him uncovering the truth that is out there, your next chance to see Greg Sestero and The Room will be on December 17.