While on his lunch break, Steve Newall, editor of New Zealand film website Flick decided to call the number listed on a Billboard promoting James Franco’s latest film “The Disaster Artist”. What follows is as surreal as it gets.
Franco himself answered, in character as Tommy Wiseau, while being interviewed on Conan O’Brien’s late-night talk show. Yep.
Carefully timed marketing or real absurdist comedy, we don’t know. But everything about the call is absolutely bonkers.
Newall is heard saying, “Hey this is Steve, I’m just having lunch in Auckland, New Zealand. What are you guys up to?”
“This is Tommy Wiseau, who this?” answers Franco.
At one point the American actor asks if Steve knows Conan. Newall replies, asking if the Conan he’s referring to is Conan the Barbarian or New Zealand musician Connan Mockasin, which O’Brien mishears as “Conan Washington”.
Directed by and starring Franco, the film depicts the troubled production of “The Room” which is widely regarded as one of the worse movies in history. Over the years it has become one of the prefered “so bad it’s good” movies people list all over the net.
At the time, “The Room” advertised itself with a massive billboard overlooking Highland Avenue in Hollywood. The board simply showed the credits, Wiseau‘s face and a cryptic phone number. Bizarrely, the advertisement stayed up for five years, somehow becoming a part of LA’s skyline.
In the spirit of the original film, Franco’s “The Disaster Artist” brought the billboard back, cryptic phone number included.
“I’d been trying to get through to Franco/Wiseau for weeks… I’d pretty much given up, and then in the middle of an important work lunch I went to play my fellow diners the answerphone message, but something was different. Franco had picked up”, said the lucky Kiwi.
As a bonus pinch of insanity, musician Connan Mockasin tweeted O’Brien after the interview reminding him he had once performed live on his show.
“The Disaster Artist” is receiving positive reviews on the festival circuit, with lots of praise coming from the Toronto International Film Festival and SXSW. Film critic Jacob Hall said of the film, “It’s a loving tribute to a cinema in the vein of Tim Burton’s Ed Wood, the acclaimed biopic of the infamous B-movie director.”