Tommy Wiseau and Greg Sestero’s 20-year-old friendship survived making “the ‘Citizen Kane’ of bad movies” (“The Room”) and the Academy Award-nominated film based on its painful production (“The Disaster Artist”). However, the duo doesn’t quite agree on how to pronounce the title of their latest collaboration, “Best F(r)iends,” a two-volume drama directed by Justin MacGregor.
“It’s not ‘Best Fiends,’ it’s ‘Friends,'” Wiseau repeatedly insisted at Hollywood’s Egyptian Theatre last night during a Q&A. Sestero — the project’s screenwriter, co-producer, and lead actor, opposite Wiseau — demurred, conceding that Werner Herzog’s 1999 documentary “My Best Fiend” was “a big inspiration.”
Sestero explained the origins for the title’s ambiguous punctuation: “I had an edible and I was trying to figure out what the title should be. And Tommy said, ‘You know what? I like this style,’ and I thought, All right.”
The film stars Wiseau as Harvey, a mortician who drives a white hearse. At his Los Angeles lab, Harvey prepares the newly deceased for burial, making custom masks for the facially disfigured, and extracting gold fillings and crowns as keepsakes. Homeless Jon (Sestero) robs Harvey, but they eventually become business partners, earning millions selling the dental work for scrap metal. Then Jon decides that he needs to get rid of Harvey.
Sestero said James Franco’s “The Disaster Artist” inspired him to reteam with Wiseau, who wrote, directed, and starred opposite Sestero in “The Room.”
“Something about the ending of the movie made me understand Tommy in a different way,” Sestero said. “For so long I was trying to explain ‘The Room’ and understand my affiliation with it, and I realized that it just came down to Tommy wanting to be an actor, and being misunderstood. And I thought it was a great chance for me this time to try to make something and then do it right, and give Tommy a chance to sink into a role that he really fits as well.”
The Q&A for “Best F(r)iends” took place before the film screened — the better to allow Wiseau and Sestero to sign merch before the Beauty & Essex after-party — and featured an appearance by Paul Scheer, who was a co-star in “The Disaster Artist” and makes a cameo in “Best F(r)iends.”
Scheer had not yet seen “Best F(r)iends,” but said, “I think the cool thing about this movie is that you guys have done something that you’re stepping up the game,” delivering “beautifully shot” footage that “looks like a very expensive movie,” and “feels Lynchian in tone.” He added, “You’re not just cashing in on making a repeat of ‘The Room.'”
Part one of “Best F(r)iends” will hit 600 theaters tomorrow and on Monday, April 2. The conclusion follows on June 1 and 4.