After being lucky enough to catch one of the first screenings of Best F(r)iends, I sat down with writer and star Greg Sestero for a quick chat.
You were obviously conscious of Tommy's unique phrasing and diction and tailored Harvey's dialogue to those characteristics. But is Tommy conscious that's what you did?
Well, I read over all the lines with him and he was ultimately either comfortable with the line or he'd alter it to fit what he wanted. I wanted him to feel comfortable with the role.
I couldn't help noticing how the movie seems to parallel the reality of your early friendship as laid out in your book, The Disaster Artist. Is that something you were conscious of?
In what way?
There's the dynamic between you and I sensed from The Disaster Artist that when you first met, Tommy was quick to place trust in you and wanted to help you. Then there was a rocky back and forth and Tommy felt you had betrayed him at times. [Minor spoiler] in Best F(r)iends of course you actually do betray him.
The story was it's own story but it was definitely influenced by real-life experience. It's intended to be its own story but you draw from real life with those two characters, you know, the dynamic is already set up.
How did you find the writing process, is it something you've taken to naturally?
Yeah I really, really enjoyed it. I mean, I sat down and just escaped for about four or five days into the story and it was incredible just to wake up each day and do it. I didn't do any planning ahead, any outlining or anything, I just dove in and let the story take me where I felt like it was going, and it ended up being two parts obviously.
I didn't realise it was in two parts until recently. Is it all shot?
Most of it, yeah. I wasn't even really intending to act in it but I figured it's an ideal time for us to do a reunion film, and do it right.
My first reaction is that it's like Gus Van Sant directed a Hitchcock script. Were there any particular influences, did you have anything in mind when you wrote it?
For a long time I'd been trying to write a TV show like Fargo or True Detective, something with that kind of feel, I've always loved kind of noir crossover movies. I think it was a culmination of a year trying to write stuff that this came out of. All the characters are based on real people. The girl was based on my ex-girlfriend's friend, so it's all based on things I was going through at the time.
Whose idea were the shoes and glasses Harvey wears? (Harvey sports preposterous stylised glasses and the sort of shoes you wear for medical reasons.)
Tommy's. That was a great idea, just doing something different. He made those choices and let them guide him into a real performance.
The shoes are great because they affect the way he walks and therefore his whole physicality. How are the screenings going, I know Justin (MacGregor, the director) is still tinkering with the cut?
We cut down about three minutes from the beginning and when we get to Vegas. Vegas is really the bonding moment that starts the next part of the film... they bond and then Jon realises he's done something wrong. What did you think about it?
I was expecting a simple plot driven exercise in filmmaking, but it's more moody than that, more about tone. Then towards the end this Hitchcock element comes into play and stakes are introduced, which makes me really want to see the next part.
The next part is more Breaking Bad, that's the tone. This one was more Nightcrawler, you know, finding an odd business you can make money off. And one thing someone thought is that we were the same person, or that he's a ghost.
Yes, there's a real duality there. When will we find out, do you know when the next part will be released?
We'll probably have it done by January, edited and so on, but this first one doesn't come out until next year. We're still tweaking it. What did you think about the acting?
Ten minutes in I thought 'hang on, have you made your character mute?' I thought you'd had a crisis of confidence or something. But everyone's great, and Tommy's Tommy, you know? I don't actually think he's that bad an actor. I've always said The Room and Tommy are more weird than bad. But the amount he's in this is perfectly judged.
Right. You have like a little break from him and then the clown scene [I'd love to explain but won't spoil it]. He has to be a real character.
Best F(r)iends will be released some time in the new year. Check out my review here.