Tommy Wiseau is one of the film industry’s most … unique actors. He created a film that was utterly panned, a film that was said to be one of the worst ever. But in its sheer, unadulterated, diabolical (there really aren’t enough adjectives) badness (told you), there was something amazing. He created a legend, a legacy that he always wanted, albeit not quite like this.
Kudos to Tommy though. He managed to attain a unique kind of celebrity status that you just don’t get in Hollywood. You have the National Enquirer poster child, the ones who are always one step away from needing a DWI lawyer and a rehab clinic. Then you have the ones hellbent on destroying themselves and everyone around them, and the ones who earn their controversy by joining cults, claiming the earth is flat or generally acting like they’re off their meds.
For Wiseau, his celebrity status is all about, well … no one really knows. He came from nowhere, built his career on one of the worst films ever made and then just kinda slipped back into the shadows. He pops out every now and then to do signings and to appease his fans by quoting his famous terribly-scripted lines, but for the most part, he’s like a Hollywood vampire.
And that’s actually apt, because his infamous film, The Room, which was essentially 90 minutes of nothing, very nearly ended with the main character revealing he was a vampire. There had been no signs. It wasn’t a horror movie and a vampire would have been completely out of place, but as anyone who has seen The Room will attest, the same could be said for pretty much every scene.
Just to show you how bizarre this movie and everything surrounding it was, here are some facts about Tommy Wiseau and The Room.
Empowering: One of the strangest moments in The Room comes when the female lead suddenly announces she has breast cancer. There is no foreshadowing, no hints, no dramatic music. She just mentions it, almost in passing. And then … it’s never mentioned again. According to Tommy, it was meant to be like this. It was supposed to be empowering, because, he said, people don’t want to be pitied when they have cancer and they want to forget about it.
Book to Film to Book: Greg Sestero would go on to write a book about The Room and would play an instrumental role in its legacy. In the film, his character, Mark, is at the epicenter of many of Tommy’s brilliantly bad lines and the actor witnessed the insanity firsthand. But before it was turned into a tell-all book, and before it was turned into a film, The Room was actually a 600 page novel. This was the original vision. If you thought it was bad having nothing happen over 2 hours of film, imagine reading it for 600 pages.
Mark, Matt, Same Thing: Incidentally, Sestero’s character was named after a Hollywood legend. Not Mark Hamill. Not Mark Wahlberg or Mark Ruffalo. Mark Damon. Don’t worry, I know what you’re thinking, but Tommy didn’t. He was apparently a fan of The Talented Mr Ripley actor Matt Damon, but not enough to remember his name.
The Replacements: The entire crew of The Room was replaced three times over the course of filming, partly because Tommy didn’t think they were doing the job properly, but mainly because Wiseau treated the set like an episode of The Apprentice.
Autographs: The Room made just a couple grand from its $6 million budget (most of which seems to have been spent on buying-and not renting, as is usually the case – a camera, and on paying for a large billboard that remained for years) and it was panned. Yet after the premier, the actors were swamped by autograph hunters. It didn’t take them long to realize, however, that all of those eager screaming “Fans” had been paid by Wiseau.
That’s the whole story. Tommy Wiseau is certainly … unique.