During the recent Tribeca Film Festival we got a chance to talk with Tommy Wiseau, the director, actor, producer, and writer of the cult film The Room. He was promoting the Rifftrax Live premiere of The Room, which will be shown simultaneously via satellite in 700 theaters live on May 6 and 12. Tickets are available HERE. (http://cineplex.com/Events/RiffTrax)
If you haven’t seen it, the 2003 film The Room is an unintentional masterpiece–a romantic drama that plays as a comedy because of how bad it is. To most people, this is a natural pairing with RiffTrax, a live commentary on a bad movie by the former stars and writers of MST3K. But Tommy Wiseau doesn’t see the connection, because, he told us, as he tells everyone, that all that humor of The Room was intentional on his part and, “Nothing happened by accident.” He’s quick to separate The Room from the usual Rifftrax movie: “I’m not a fan of Rifftrax.” Wiseau said, “However I support the concept…It’s different entertainment, different [than] cookie cutter Hollywood, and I think they do an excellent job. That’s why we’re talking here today and I support them, they are very legit, nice people, very dedicated.”
Tommy Wiseau’s relentless, some might say delusional, positivity is impressive in the face of almost universal dislike of his filmmaking. His reaction to Rifftrax eviscerating his film was that he is “very thrilled that people support my project!” Wiseau added that he is selling the script for The Room on his website to try to quiet audience accusations that the movie didn’t have one. His spin on the the collaboration is that both he and Rifftrax are independent producers of projects in service of their unique vision that don’t fit into the Hollywood mold, as opposed to a bunch of award winning comedians making fun of his film.
A cynic might say that Wiseau is participating in this Rifftrax project for the money, or because this is the first time his 12 year old movie will get a multi-theater theatrical release, but it’s hard to be a cynic in Wiseau’s single-minded (he would say stubborn) positivity bubble. He repeatedly told us that he just wants to make movies that make people happy and teach them morals. About filmmaking he said, “Money’s not everything…it’s what’s your contribution.” This is why he considers The Room a success even if you didn’t like it, because, “You may not like the movie but it will trigger your thinking about the world.” He shuts down haters with his version of success: “Don’t tell me people don’t like my movies…Let the audience decide if they like it or not…I think [if] I do make smile on people’s faces…I’m doing a good job!”
The future looks bright to Tommy Wiseau. He told us, “Hollywood is open for me now.” When discussing his artistic peers, he referenced Brad Pitt, Mark Wahlberg, and even Orson Welles, whose magnum opus Citizen Kane, “had the same situation as The Room, not support like he wants it…it’s the same story!”
To prove he can make intentional comedy, Wiseau partnered with Hulu to distribute his comedy series “The Neighbors.” Wiseau told us he wanted to make a pure comedy series that represented America’s diversity, which he views as its strength. In addition to “The Neighbors,” Wiseau is up for any project acting wise. He mentioned he just wrapped voiceover work for a SAG animated voiceover role, something he legally couldn’t tell us anything about. He’s begun merchandising with his new line of boxers that feature a secret pocket and say TOMMY WISEAU in large block print around the waistband, which he wears every day. He told us his biggest regret in life was giving up a clothing store he owned in San Francisco and is considering opening a store in Los Angeles. “I’m thinking about doing a prequel to The Room.” he said when talking about the types of projects he saw in his future. “We have different ideas. Animation…Comics…for the kids, give them messages, what not to do. The Room is like sort of red flag what not to do.”
The Room is a red flag on what not to do, Tommy, both in the way you mean it, and the opposite.