When he was 14, Greg Sestero was unceremoniously axed from the Monte Vista High School freshman baseball squad. Crestfallen but undaunted, he appealed to the coaches. After all, he was a pitcher, and they hadn’t even seen him pitch. What did he have to lose? The coaches – Steve McCatty and Wayne Gross, both formerly of the Oakland Athletics, incidentally – consented, allowing Sestero to step up to the mound.
It all unfolded like a movie. Exterior: a ballpark in the wealthy, Republican suburb of Danville, Calif., empty save for an aspiring youngster and his disbelieving coaches. A gentle breeze blows across the field as the sun sets behind centre field, casting a golden hour glare on the fateful proceedings. Cue Vangelis’s triumphant score from Chariots of Fire – or that Eminem rap about nervous vomiting from 8 Mile.
“I went up to the mound,” Sestero recalls, decades later. “I threw three pitches, and one of the coaches said, ‘I’ll see you tomorrow.’ I ended up winning the MVP award that year for pitching.”
There’s a lesson there, sappy and saccharine as it may be: Persistence pays off. There’s no such thing as a done deal. In a way, it’s been the wonky arc of the now-39-year-old Sestero’s life and career. As the star of the 2003 cult film The Room – famously hailed as “the Citizen Kane of bad movies” – Sestero has spent more than a decade trying to reverse his fortunes on similar terms.
The Room found an audience among underground cinephiles, L.A. comedians and others amused (or perplexed) by its seeming improbability. At the centre of it all, the font from which all of the film’s weirdness flows, is writer-director-producer-star-enigma Tommy Wiseau, a singularly odd-looking man whose raven mane falls over his craggy, clay-like face, who speaks in an unclassifiable, vaguely Eastern European, vaguely French accent and who stumbles and sputters through line readings despite the fact he wrote the lines himself….