Arts Devo

Greg is Steven is Peter

Steven and Lisa in <i>The Room</i>.

Steven and Lisa in The Room.

A View from The Room Last week, Arts DEVO received an invitation from 1078 Gallery board President Erin Wade to a screening at Cinemark 14 of The Room, the so-bad-it’s-still-unfathomably-awful 2003 film that’s at the center of the recent James Franco project, The Disaster Artist. In the description, she mentioned that Chico actor Greg Ellery would be on hand for a Q&A after the showing, and I was all, “But wait … Why would Greg … ? He’s not …?”

Holy cow, Ellery was in The Room! I feel like I’m sitting on an atomic bomb waiting for it to go off!

That last sentence was one of the film’s lines written for the character of Peter, but instead was delivered by the character of Steven, who was created by The Room writer/director/star Tommy Wiseau after the actor playing Peter (Kyle Vogt) left halfway through filming and Ellery was brought on to play Steven and was given the Peter character’s lines with no explanation. Got it?

Ellery is an old-school Chico theater dude and super sweet guy who did all the Butcher Shop and Blue Room stuff back in the 1990s, left town in 1998 and went on to places like New York and Los Angeles to pursue acting in films. You can see Ellery in the recently released mini-mockumentary The Room Actors: Where Are They Now? on Funny or Die (, and also see a montage of Steven’s lines from The Room on YouTube (

Ellery, who recently moved back to Chico, will indeed be on hand for The Room screening on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 8 p.m., at Cinemark 14. I got a head start on the Q&A via phone:

How did The Room role come about?

Every week, I’d walk down to the newsstand and pick up a Backstage West [entertainment-industry magazine], and it was in there. So, I went to an audition. I was like, “Hey, this is cool, it’s a feature film. This is gonna rock.”

What did you make of the way your character was shoehorned into the film?

I didn’t really understand exactly what was going on there. I mean, no one was ever allowed to see a full script. [Wiseau] said something about, “You know, this guy quit, so you are Steven now. So, OK, go be Steven.” He didn’t exactly tell me that he’d given [Peter’s] lines to another character. Which is insane.

Did you have fun?

It was OK. He had us on the set a lot, and he paid us for that time, so I couldn’t really bitch about that. I had a good time, but I hung out there a lot on the set. People spent a lot of their time on that set. It was kind of creepy because he was filming everything all the time. He was filming us and recording us. It was very Eastern Bloc.

Did you have a sense during filming of what the finished product was going to be like?

Yeah, I knew it was going to be terrible. We all kind of figured it was going to be terrible because we’d seen the acting.

What local-theater stuff are you working on now?

A lot of my theater energy here is going to be for Slow Theatre. We’re putting together a big season this year—Shakespeare in the Park, a production called The Wolves, which is going to involve some ladies who are graduating from Inspire this year. I am going right now to a rehearsal at the Blue Room for Bug.

And you’ll be on hand at the Cinemark screening next week?

I’ll make it by the end. I’ll rush over and do a little Q&A. … I have rehearsal for Bug, so I won’t make the actual screening, but I’m OK with that.