SAN JOSE, Calif. – Greg Sestero can’t help but make bad movies, he’s actually proud to say so. He talks about movies that offer outrageous stories, crazy characters, and such a miraculous embrace of schlock, exploitation, and humor that they’re genuinely fun to watch.
The Alamo-raised first-time actor, writer and director became a fixture in Hollywood lore for starring in 2003’s so-bad-it’s-good cult classic “The Room.” Sestero gained credibility when “The Disaster Artist,” his 2013 New York Times bestseller about making “The Room” — “the greatest bad movie ever made” — was turned into an acclaimed 2017 film. critically by the same name.
Audiences were charmed by the story Sestero told about his unlikely friendship with Tommy Wiseau, the eccentric writer-director-star of “The Room,” and the joys of being creatively daring.
Sestero is now making his directorial debut with the equally daring “Miracle Valley,” which he also wrote and starred in. The film becomes available for free Friday on the Tubi streaming service and is expected to hit theaters around Halloween.
Sestero’s new project likely won’t bring him back anywhere near the Oscars conversations. For one thing, “Miracle Valley” is a horror movie, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences doesn’t usually award horror. But Sestero also acknowledges that he’s not trying to go the prestige indie route with “Miracle Valley.”
“Twenty years ago I survived making ‘The Room’, the best worst movie ever made,” Sestero told Deadline. “I hope ‘Miracle Valley’ ends up as the second best worst movie ever made.”
Indeed, “Miracle Valley” bears the allure of a pure exploitation film, with its plot involving “a cult in the Arizona desert” which would be “inspired by a true story”.
In an interview with this news agency, Sestoro explained why he likes to make films from “best to worst”.
“I like to make movies that play well with the crowd, that have a mix of horror, comedy and risque,” he said. “I think it’s really important to take a risk for yourself and for the crowd, to give them something they haven’t seen before.”
There are likely elements of “Miracle Valley” that audiences haven’t seen before. According to its logline, the film centers on “an obsessive photographer and his girlfriend, who are invited to a desert oasis in search of an ultra-rare bird. The plans to capitalize on the discovery while mending their relationship that fades take a turn when an unexpected and sinister presence forces them to confront demons from their past, present and future.
Sestero also acknowledges that he hasn’t been as visible as he was during the publicity blitz for “The Disaster Artist.” For the film’s mighty 2017-18 run for awards season glory, director and star James Franco became the face of the production. Franco, who played Wiseau in the film, triumphantly won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Comedy.
But the film’s momentum immediately crashed in the tidal wave of #MeToo awareness. Days after his Golden Globes win, the Palo Alto-born actor was charged by five women in a Los Angeles Times report, alleging sexually inappropriate behavior took place at an acting school he ran in Los Angeles. Franco eventually settled a lawsuit with two of those women, whose charges included a variety of improprieties related to the school’s handling of sexually explicit work.
In a possible reaction to the sexual misconduct allegations, Franco received no Academy Award nominations for acting or directing. However, “The Disaster Artist” screenwriters Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber received a nomination for adapting Sestero’s book, which he co-wrote with Tom Bissell.
Nevertheless, much of the conversation about “The Disaster Artist” died with the Franco controversy. Sestero can’t say how much the misfortune of “The Disaster Artist” has affected the trajectory of his career. He said he was proud of the film and said it has been embraced by people all over the world. Indeed, it turned a profit, earning nearly $30 million at the worldwide box office on a $10 million production budget.
“It would have been great if he had received more nominations. Maybe more people could have experienced it,” Sestero said.
But Sestero said working behind the scenes on the film, which featured other top Hollywood talent like Seth Rogen, Dave Franco, Alison Brie and Jacki Weaver, was very “educational”. He even compares it to therapy. “It’s very expensive therapy, to be on a set where people were creative,” he said.
Franco’s troubles haven’t slowed down Sestero’s career either. Amid the COVID pandemic, he appeared in the 2020 Netflix miniseries, “The Haunting of Bly Manor,” starred in a few other low-budget horror movies, and continued to work with Wiseau, filming most recently. a movie called, Big Shark,” about three firefighters who “must save New Orleans from a shark attack.”
Sestero also said he wanted to make a UFO movie, inspired by his time in Arizona working on “Miracle Valley.” He added that audiences still love “The Room,” which continues to play at the Balboa Theater in San Francisco on the first Saturday of every month. Because of this, Sestero said fans should expect more spinoffs from his book, “The Disaster Artist.”
“At the end of the day, I can still do the movies that I wanted to do,” Sestero said.