Fans of cult cinema will be thrilled to learn that none other than Greg Sestero was interviewed by Dread Central, and we were delighted to learn that he was one of the nicest and most down to Earth celebrities we’ve ever spoken to. You may know Sestero as the actor who played Mark in The Room, and he also wrote the autobiographical book The Disaster Artist, which detailed his experience of making the infamous cult film. The book was adapted into the Oscar-nominated film of the same name, where Sestero was played by Dave Franco.
Sestero recently starred in the practical effects monster movie Cyst, which premiered at the digital FrightFest event this month. He provided Dread Central with the following exclusive interview about Cyst, which you can read in its entirety below. And if that wasn’t enough, he also filled us in on some of his upcoming projects, including a cultist horror film which he directed and starred in, and an upcoming UFO movie where he will once again star alongside Tommy Wiseau. The interview was conducted on Skype and later transcribed in full.
Cyst takes place primarily in a doctor’s clinic which is menaced by a giant monster after it emerges from a patient’s boil. The film was directed by Tyler Russell, and now that it has premiered at FrightFest, we should be hearing news of a release date soon. In the meantime, we hope you enjoy our interview with Sestero below.
Dread Central: So could you talk about how you came to be involved with Cyst?
Greg Sestero: Yeah. I had a few friends on the project, and I always loved kind of those sixties, like Little Shop of Horrors, quirky horror films. And, I’ve been really into horror recently. I worked on the The Haunting of Bly Manor and I wrote and directed my first horror film. And so when this came up, I thought, Oh, this will be a really fun world to play in. And then I found out, you know, obviously George Hardy is going to be in it. He and I have kept in touch over the years and shared stories. And I thought this is a great chance for us to work together on something that fits what our audiences would want.
DC: So how did you find your overall experience of making Cyst?
GS: I mean, it was great. It was one of those things where, you know, you’re creating a, you know, a world on the sixth. I look at it as kind of like the, the underground Shape of Water, where it’s this creating this kind of underground world and the filmmakers and everyone there knew exactly what they were making and, you know, using the practical effects and dealing personally with that was great. I much prefer that over CGI and all that stuff. I thought it was a really fun world that they created and it was harder to pull off and I think the experience works better.
DC: How did you feel about being covered in the fake pus?
GS: Oh, man, that was, I mean they prepped me for it because it was freezing cold. We are shooting in Baltimore in the winter and the stuff they sprayed me at was refrigerated. So it was like literally being held underwater by freezing cold liquid. And for like 20, 30 seconds, I actually kind of felt like I died while we were filming it. And then I had to take off everything. Obviously my, my outfit was all like a different color. And then they’re like, Oh shoot, we got to get one more shot. You got to get back into the wet outfit. So, yeah, we all, we all put our, you know, our efforts into it, but, I did, I didn’t really enjoy the practical effects, but yeah, it was like being held under water.
DC: Was there a specific reason why your patent agent character was much nicer than the other two pattern agents?
GS: I think I was in love with Patricia secretly and secretly invested in the machine. So I was really hoping that it worked.
DC: Was that his first time meeting her?
GS: It was, yeah, so it was like, love, love at first sight. So they had dealt with the doctor before and they had obviously been through a lot of his antics. So I think they were kind of over it. So I was kinda there to represent the positivity that maybe this time it could work.
DC: How did you approach the role? Was there anything that you did to make it your own or anything you’d you changed or edited?
GS: Yeah, I just, I took a lot of direction from Tyler, who was the director and I watched a lot of sixties horror, and just tried to approach it with a seriousness and kind of a romantic attitude towards that era. And Eva Habermann, the actress was really great to play off. You just kind of stare into her eyes and she’s so expressive and there’s a lot of comedy and I just kind of watched what she did and kind of played off of that.
DC: And how was filming your death scene?
GS: Man, it was brutal. I really went forward on that. I thought, Hey, you know, you don’t get to die in a horror film that often. I haven’t to this point. So I thought I’m going to really go for it. And so we had this whole scene where the monster attaches to my back and I ironically ended up getting partially burned from the effect. So screaming it’s like, it’s like real screams coming out cause it was actually going down. I mean, that’s the beauty of doing it the real way is, you know, things happen, but it’s all it all fits for the story.
DC: Was it a serious injury?
GS: No, no, no, no. It was just like, it started to kind of actually burn. So they gave me something to play off of.
DC: And what was it like acting against the creature? It was a animatronic part, animatronic impart actor in a suit playing a monster. Am I correct?
GS: Yeah. We got to see him in the other room the whole time and kind of watch him get bigger and more shapely. So that was kind of funny. You realize that you were kind of getting to witness what was coming after you. So, again, it was really tough. I mean, a lot of the practices have relied a lot on practical effects, so it’s great that it worked out the way that it did, and, you know, plays for both comedy and scares. So I enjoyed that part of it.
DC: Did the 1960s period setting impact your performance in any way?
GS: Yeah. I studied some characters from that time and I tried to handle myself in that way. So I’m a little bit more methodical, a little bit more proper. So yeah, that was one of the fun parts. And one of the draws of being able to step back into that era.
DC: And then your character was also a hero because he destroys the Get Gone machine.
GS: Yeah. It was a chance for me to be Indiana Jones to the rescue.
DC: So, did you say you knew George Hardy from conventions? Am I correct?
GS: We just spoke through people and you know, we both had such a similar experience, so we both just kind of kept in touch, you know, and talked a couple of times and always said, ‘Hey, it’d be fun to work together sometime’. So I’m glad it was this one though.
DC: What do you think horror fans will take away from Cyst?
GS: I think it takes on a kind of a quirky, gross comedy horror trope, and I think delivers something quick and punchy that’s fun. I think in movies now, we need those laughs and we need that escape. So I think it plays to the, you know, the Little Shop of Horrors genre and, you know, it kind of brings out the best in the cast. And I think it’s a really fun, gross concept that walks away with some humour.
DC: I like that you mainly played it straight for out the film as well.
GS: Yeah. It came natural to me and, you know, in such a strange setting. I think I was kind of the voice of reason, the only person that kind of understood what was happening.
DC: Can I asked about the status of the shark film you’re making with Tommy?
GS: The trailer that we did for fun. So that’s about all of it at this point. But like I said, I did write and direct a new horror film about a cult that we just wrapped for quarantine. So we’ve been able to edit it. Right now it’s untitled. So we’re looking to hopefully have that out available for next year, but it’s basically untitled cult movie. It’s kind of a true story about a desert cult. It’s kind of like The Hills Have Eyes meets Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
DC: Are you starring in that as well?
GS: Yeah, I pulled a Wiseau, I wrote directed, starred, and produced. Yeah. Luckily we finished right before quarantine. So that was fun. It’s been fun to edit that and get that ready for next year.
DC: Is that hopefully going to at FrightFest in the future, right?
GS: Yeah. Yeah. That’ll be the festivals next year. Once, hopefully this is, this madness has started dying out.
DC: And are you hoping to come back to introduce screenings at the Prince Charles Cinema?
GS: Yeah. I’ve been in touch with them have been supportive now that they’re starting on open again. So yeah. I’d love to come back and do a screening at the Prince Charles, for sure. I mean, I love the UK, I love going to Bristol and Manchester in the UK as well. I’ve done a lot of screenings all over, so they’re always such a supportive, supportive crowd.
DC: And you’re doing a UFO film from Tyler Russell, the director of Cyst, which will also star Tommy Wiseau?
DC: I’m writing that right now. I’ve been writing that through quarantine. I love Fire the Sky and those movies. So it’ll be kind of an ode to that, but yeah, hopefully we’ll start filming that soon. I’ll be starring with Tommy in it, so yeah, hopefully next year we’ll be talking about that.
DC: Is there anything else you wanted to say about Cyst?
GS: I think the UK is a great audience and I think they’ll get, they’ll get it. And I love, I love what it does in such a short amount of time.
DC: Oh yeah. Because Cyst has quite a short runtime, doesn’t it?
GS: Yeah. Which is kind of cool. It’s again, it’s kind of a Twilight Zone episode in a way, so, but I’m excited that the UK gets to see it first.
DC: Awesome. By the way, I enjoyed Cyst very much. I love practical creature horror films. I love the little Easter egg with the Christmas decoration in the diner as well. So it’s secretly a Christmas movie.
GS: Great day of filming. That’s good. I’m glad to hear you like it.
DC: Okay. Perfect. All right. Well thank you for taking the time out of your schedule to speak with me.
GS: Thank you very much. Bye.