Tommy Wiseau interview: A chat with the man behind The Room

Posted on 17 February 2015
By George Heron
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Tommy Wiseau’s The Room is now a global phenomenon which Tommy takes all around the world for fans to celebrate in their own way, which includes the usage of plastic spoons as projectiles hurtled towards the screen at certain parts of the film.

Purple Revolver took time to chat with Tommy while he was in Liverpool for a double showing of the nearly 12-year-old film.

Tommy has been to Liverpool four times now and always finds something new about our great city: “The architecture of Liverpool is spectacular. You got such a rich history here. What they’ve done with the waterfront especially, they’ve done a beautiful job.”

I was curious to see what Tommy’s football colours were, if he had any: “I’m neutral. We are all the same. We are all fans of The Room. It doesn’t matter.”

My friend Sharon, a big fan of Tommy’s, wanted me to ask him how he was inspired to make The Room.

“I inspire myself. In the past two or three years I have said I have been inspired by Citizen Kane, Orson Welles, James Dean and others. But I don’t want to say 100% inspire. But it is influenced somewhat to a certain degree.”

Although Tommy takes his movie across the United States and Europe, there are still some territories he would like to visit.

“I think China for example. I have a great interest in Chinese society. There’s a lot of quirky statements you have within The Room and I think people can embrace that.”

Tommy has met one of his heroes in his rise to fame: “Clint Eastwood is one of the good guys I have met. I saw American Sniper, it’s pretty exciting. Some people were bashing him and it was unpleasant because he wanted to present everything as real as possible. Again, this is the filmmaker and producer who says ‘Hey I don’t want to exaggerate but that’s what it is. Based on the research and based on the real facts.’”

The showings of The Room this year included the broadcasting of a pilot for Tommy’s new sitcom called The Neighbours, about a block of flats and the people who live in it and run it. It has been implemented at a much lower budget as The Room. The editing and transition shots are so amateurish that it must be intentional for comic effect. At the end of every scene, there is a transition to a static picture of a block of flats, with the same chiptune music playing every time.

What is in between those transitions can be funny but in a guilty way. One of the most insane characters in the show is a lady called Cici, played to beyond histrionic levels by Pamelia Bailey. Cici has lost her pet chicken and goes bothering all the other residents aggressively to find it. You wouldn’t think the loss of a chicken would affect someone so badly.

“There’s so many different characters and it takes from life. You have a chicken, you have a black guy, Chinese, whatever. You will see you have everybody there.”

Tommy plays two characters in his sitcom: Manager of the flats, Charlie, who struggles to keep everyone happy and Ricky Rick (Tommy’s favourite to perform), is a slacker with a jock’s jacket on who just wants to have a good time.

“I really enjoyed making The Neighbours so much. To produce it and work. One of the producers Andrew Broccoli who is producing together with me. He’s very dedicated. You can see the dedication. We will continue shooting when I come back from UK. I plan to do at least 50.”

With his home release of The Room on Blu-Ray, Tommy has sought to innovate how it is presented for different world markets: “CL combo language means on the same line you have the English and you have Spanish for example. And let me tell you this is the only Blu-Ray in the entire world to have this kind of feature. I am very proud of it.”

There is an abundance of merchandise available at FACT on the day of the showing, which astutely picks up on all the highlights of the film: The dog in the flower shop, Talking Tommy Wiseau action figure, T-shirts with catchphrases, mini American Footballs. When you go to sit down, a Flash movie plays on a loop with the different products scrolling across the screen, subliminally tempting you to purchase. You could say this is cynical but no more so than any other brand like a football team, for example. At least Tommy doesn’t send you incessant daily emails saying 20% off this or that. It’s just once a year and just like Christmas, there’s plenty of presents to be had.

Tommy has a great rapport with his fans. Some of whom would act in front of him to try and audition for parts in his projects.

“I told them we are always open because I think I always find uniqueness with different actors. For example, in America we have a lot of Canadian actors and British actors. We are open about it. The British have much more background in the stage. They can send us a headshot and we will see what happens no problem. Absolutely.”

Of the three mediums that Tommy has worked in, film, TV and theatre, I asked which was his favourite: “I like theatre. I studied theatre a long time ago. I always say the theatre is my house. I really enjoy it. It’s a different experience as an actor. When you perform on the stage you have to perform with much more concentration than a movie.”

Our discussion concluded on the subject of what the future holds for Wiseau films, which could include making The Room into a trilogy.

“I’m considering doing a prequel. Yes, afterwards as well. Maybe Johnny survived, you never know. Someone’s asked me about flying cars and sci-fi. That would be pretty exciting. I’m working on a feature called Foreclosure and a vampire movie. Everybody wants it so I will deliver it. Tommy says it, you have it.”