Tommy Wiseau and the Worst Movie Ever Made, “The Room”
The key to becoming a movie star is quite obvious – you have to have something about you that sets you apart. You have to have something about you that people find great and compelling; something unique in your performances that will have audiences thinking about it long after the performance has ended. Maybe it’s luck. Maybe some of these great actors were just in the right place in the right time, and had gotten thrown into a film so successful that they themselves become a success, regardless of how their roles actually contributed to the quality of the film. But the bottom line, for the most part, is to simply be really good at what you do. Someone else, however, has found another way to become a movie star.
By being the worst actor of all time.
Tommy Wiseau, writer, director, producer, and actor of The Room, is addictingly horrendous. There’s something about his unmistakable yet undefinable slurred foreign drawl that many fans of the movie could listen to all day. And not only does he boast the title of being the worst actor of all time, he also wins the medal for being the mastermind behind the worst movie of all time. Because of this, he’s started a cult phenomenon that’s been able to last longer than most big-budget Hollywood productions.
The amazing thing about The Room is that Mr. Wiseau is unable to see it for what it really is. There is not one thing about this film that was done correctly. The set designs make no sense, there’s a rooftop scene that’s green screened when it could have just been shot on, well, I don’t know, a rooftop, framed pictures of spoons, plotlines that are repeated hundreds of times, incompetent acting all around, and to top it all off, a plethora of excruciatingly long sex scenes which are accompanied by music that should have never been published in the first place. What’s even more insane is that the movie wasn’t made on a shoestring budget – instead, Wiseau put six million dollars into the making of this film.
Yet despite the hilarious end product, Tommy Wiseau has never once, in any way, shape, or form, admitted that The Room is a bad movie. In an interview with The List in 2013, Tommy hammered in a point that he’s been trying to make since the film was released:
“I said this many times – right now, in America, mainstream media understand what is The Room about, but they don’t understand because some of the stuff – I don’t want to say to you, but as a big picture – some of our reporters don’t understand the entertainment, it seems to me.”
Despite Wiseau’s take on it, it seems that he is actually the one who doesn’t understand it. But I’m not here to criticize him – for all of the laughs that I have spent on The Room, I am actually here to applaud him.
There’s a certain mystery that surrounds his background. No one really knows where he came from, or how old he is. His fashion sense is undeniably weird, often wearing two belts and cargo pants stuffed to the brim in every pocket, accompanied by sunglasses in doors and at night. His demeanor is generally very straightforward and respectable; he’ll say whatever is on his mind, whether that be good or bad thoughts. He’s also a self-made man, though the details behind that still are not entirely clear.
In Greg Sestero’s book The Disaster Artist, he is able to get some information out to the general public about uncovering the mystery of the enigma that is Tommy Wiseau. And who else would be able to do it than Sestero, who starred alongside Tommy in the film itself? It is revealed that he fled from an undisclosed European country and came to America with a new identity. After years of struggle and heartache, Wiseau started a fashion company and also dabbled in real estate, eventually becoming a millionaire.
If you can’t believe that, just look at the budget for The Room, and then look on the ways in which that budget was spent. The film was made on two types of cameras simultaneously, digital and 35mm, which is the only movie ever to be shot like this. This is often a point that Wiseau boasts with a sense of accomplishment, and it is a true statement. However, he does not recognize the fact that this is true because the idea is entirely pointless and wasteful. He even went so far as to purchase all of the equipment himself, instead of doing the rational thing and renting them.
The beauty of Wiseau is that, as evidenced by the previous bit of information, he has, and probably always will do things his own way. The tenacity of creating a six million dollar vanity project and having it come out so horrible and yet sticking it through all the way to the end (and further, as almost 15 years later the screenings are selling out habitually) is unparalleled. As the story goes, the cast was replaced three times until he found one he was happy with – in the middle of filming too, no less. The movie was not made in five minutes, and it was not made for five dollars. It was a long and arduous process that Wiseau wanted – needed – to complete, and he did it. All with one dream in mind: to become a star.
His dream, as it turns out, would come true. He is now an enigmatic celebrity, a man with unmistakable charm and a talent for taking whatever he is doing to the ultimate extreme to sell a product. He is, whether you like it or not, the American dream. He’s become a success on his own dime – and he doesn’t give a damn whether or not you think his movie sucks.