For the last 14 years, all actress Juliette Danielle has wanted is for her debut in Hollywood to be forgotten. While that might not be the usual reaction for someone starring as the lead female role in her first film, not every actress has had the misfortune of saying it was for the 2003 drama/unintentional comedy “The Room.”
Despite being considered by critics and fans as one of the worst movies ever made, “The Room” has gone on to develop a massive cult following across the world and commands interactive screenings much like “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” where fans show up dressed in costume and wielding props.
In “The Room,” Danielle starred as Lisa, the deceitful fiancée of main character Johnny (Tommy Wiseau) who tears his world apart when she begins an affair with Johnny’s best friend Mark (Greg Sestero). The making of “The Room” has been adapted into a new film, “The Disaster Artist,” directed and starring Academy Award-nominee James Franco (“127 Hours”) as Wiseau, the director, writer and star of the original cinematic catastrophe. Actress Ari Graynor (“Whip It,” “Youth in Revolt”) stars as Danielle.
This past March, Danielle, 36, and her husband packed up everything and moved from Los Angeles to San Antonio. I caught up with the new Alamo City transplant to talk about “The Disaster Artist,” how it compares to her real-life experience on set and if she thought “The Room” would be the as popular as it is today.
What brought you to San Antonio nine months ago?
We just wanted to get the heck out of Los Angeles. I grew up in Sugarland, Texas, so it has been a dream of mine to move back to Texas for over a decade. We spent a lot of time looking into the different big cities. San Antonio stood out above the rest. I love the growing economy, great infrastructure and I really like the culture and food. Plus, my dad lives here! So, we packed a carload of four cats and took three days to drive from L.A. to San Antonio. We were fortunate enough to become homeowners a few months ago, something we never could have done in California. We are so happy to call San Antonio home.
Now that you’ve seen “The Disaster Artist,” what did you think about it?
I wasn’t sure how I would feel, but it was completely surreal. Overall, I loved the film. I think they did an incredible job. One of my favorite things was the impeccable attention to detail on the wardrobe and set. I felt transported! And James [Franco] did an amazing job. The scene where he debuts the famous “white hat” once shooting began, I felt like I was back on the set in real life.
Do you feel like the film is about the making of “The Room” or is it about more?
I think the story was really about Tommy and Greg. It’s a beautiful story of friendship, adversity, perseverance and ultimately fame. Those few months on the set of “The Room” changed the trajectory of my life forever, whether I wanted it to or not. Someday soon, I hope to share things that happened from my perspective.
What did you think about actress Ari Graynor’s portrayal of you?
Ari was amazing and I loved her. I wouldn’t have changed anything. I was not asked to be involved, but I did speak to Ari before she started shooting. I talked to her about how much the initial premiere [of “The Room”] hurt me. I was watching it for the very first time and all I wanted to do was get up and run out of the theater.
What is something “The Disaster Artist” got right and wrong from your real-life experience?
The wardrobe and set were spot on. I also loved how they included the wardrobe and makeup characters. They were actually my safety net on set. I don’t know if I would have made it through the filming without them. There were a lot of events that were combined, but I think it makes sense for storytelling purposes.
When you were making “The Room,” did you think you were making a bad film?
We knew that we weren’t making a wonderful film, but we never thought anyone would see it. I mean, there are so many bad films that get made that no one ever sees. We clearly underestimated Tommy.
What was the moment when you realized “The Room” had turned into a cultural phenomenon?
All these years I have secretly wished it would just go away. But even after 15 years, it just keeps coming back! In Los Angeles, I would get recognized in the early years. Then I would see celebrities talking about it. Once I went to London and saw it was playing there. I used to have a fan mail box and I received mail from everywhere. I have fans all over the world.
If someone told you that they’ve never seen “The Room,” would you recommend they see it?
I would never recommend people see “The Room” for obvious reasons. I have forbidden my friends and family from seeing it, but I encourage them to watch “The Disaster Artist!”
Anything else you’d like to add?
I want my fans to know that I appreciate them, especially the ones who have been there from the early years. The ones who have followed me through the years have given me a lot of room to grow and have an identity that is more than just “The Room.” I do wish newer fans would try to be more respectful when finding and communicating with me on social media for the first time. Those are my pages that I moderate personally.