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Tommy Wiseau Taught Us How to Watch 'The Room' [Interview]

Tommy Wiseau—yes, you read that correctly—talks to The Creators Project about art.
January 27, 2016, 8:50pm
Tommy Wiseau in a scene from The Room. Courtesy of Wiseau Films

Writer, director, and actor Tommy Wiseau first came to worldwide attention for his film The Room in 2003. While it is, in many ways, perceived as a “bad movie,” it has also garnered a lot of love among comedians, a Rocky Horror Picture Show-esque midnight movie devotion, and it even led to James Franco’s directing The Disaster Artist, a film about Wiseau. On January 28th, RiffTrax (Mystery Science Theater 3000 alumni) will broadcast a “riffing” of the film to theaters nationwide. On the eve of this screening, The Creators Project speaks with Tommy Wiseau about the legacy of The Room.

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Never seen The Room? Wiseau has advice for newcomers. “You’re in it, basically. You can laugh, you can cry, you can express yourself. But don’t hurt each other. When you watch the movie don’t be too serious, that’s the idea behind it. I always recommend for newcomers to see it two or three times.” Why see it multiple times? “I got my start as a stage actor,” Wiseau explains. “So, long story short, some of the stuff is different from the cookie-cutter Hollywood. That’s what I always say to the newcomers.”

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Tommy Wiseau and Juliette Danielle in a scene from The Room. Photo courtesy of Wiseau Films.

“The typical situation in Hollywood is, you make a movie, you move on to the next one. My situation was backwards.” Wiseau has effectively been on a promotional tour for The Room since 2003, even as new projects that he’s worked on have since been released. “But people really enjoyed it, so I’m really happy that The Room found its audience. The past few years I think we’ve found some respect from audiences as well as from the media.”

Wiseau goes on to explain how he feels about The Room getting the RiffTrax treatment. “You can say whatever you want. I created The Room for you guys. I wanted people to express themselves.” On speaking directly about RiffTrax, Wiseau explains, “It’s a funny approach to entertainment. Even though I know some of those in Hollywood, they don’t like [their work being spoofed]. But I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. Even though I’m not 100%, I approve, because I support it to a certain degree. But they are very good people, they know what they’re doing, the audience likes them, and they have their own style.” Wiseau also speaks to criticisms he’s received for the film in the past: “Long story short, without being negative toward anyone, I think people were not ready for The Room. I’m an optimistic person and sometimes people insult me and I say whatever, move on. If you’re so smart grab the camera and do your own movies.”

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In closing, Wiseau reflects on the role of the artist. “The purpose, in my opinion, is to entertain people but at the same token you also trigger society within your means. I want to present something that affects people in a positive way. I would say The Room eliminates crime. Why do I say this? Because midnight screenings. Usually the crimes are committed between midnight and two or three o’clock.” Aside from fighting crime, Wiseau has one final message for artists: “Positive thinking is something you can never get rid of. You have to believe in your project.”

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One of several theatrical posters for The Room. Photo courtesy of Wiseau Films

Best of RiffTrax Live: The Room debuts this Thursday, January 28th. Click here to learn more and buy tickets for your local screening.

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