If you have heard of the cult-classic film The Room, then you are very aware of its director/writer/producer/star, Tommy Wiseau. Wiseau is known for his "interesting" persona and his attitude towards the film that he put his heart and soul into. For those not familiar with the 2003 film, it is difficult to describe. It's an indie love drama, but that's not what makes it a stand-out. The film has been described as one of the worst movies ever made due to its plot holes and bad acting -- remember that Wiseau is the star -- and this is the very reason the movie has become such a hit. It screens this weekend at the Landmark Theatre in River Oaks.
Wiseau has been on the road with his The Room for several months now, screening it for sell-out audiences. The movie had a slow start, showing in only a handful of theaters until word spread of its badness. Everyone loves a movie that's so bad it's good. Now, due to this success, Wiseau has found himself in an odd place: Either accept that people are mocking your film or take their admiration for what it's worth.
I spoke with Wiseau via phone recently to discuss The Room and his upcoming appearance in Houston. It was an interesting conversation, to say the least.
After reading many of the comments and reviews of the movie, I didn't feel the need to come at this interview on the snark-tip. This guy has obviously read all the criticism himself and besides, who am I to judge someone who puts themselves out there and is making bank? But Wiseau came into our conversation with caution. When asked if he thought the movie would be the hit that it has become, he replied that he did not. Neither one of us defined what that meant; however, I assume we both knew what I was talking about.
The Room was and continues to be a labor of love. Wiseau first tried to make it into a play and when that didn't pan out, he turned it into a book. The book, too, couldn't get much traction, so he opted for a movie version. According to legend, he filmed the movie somewhat greenly -- think of a make-a-movie package -- with many of the actors never having been in a film before. Wiseau prides himself on the fact that the film was shot in both HD and 35mm, which others say was only done by mistake. But I'll take him at his word.
Whatever the reason for the success, Wiseau is thrilled by it and why shouldn't he be? The Room (the movie) has been so successful it was turned back into a play with Wiseau at the helm. He has plans for an off-Broadway run. It's been airing around the globe and Wiseau made a point to mention it is very successful in "Canada."
As he rides The Room's wave, he also has other projects going on. Despite penning, producing and directing The Room, Wiseau thinks of himself as an actor first. It is almost as if he wrote and produced the movie to give himself a starring role. But as he moves on with his life, he mentions that he doesn't think he'll ever be able to shake the aura around him that is "The Room," which he seems to be okay with.
We almost got around to the elephant in the room (pun!), when Wiseau assured me that nothing in the movie was "created by accident," which is one of the most dominating theories surrounding the movie's cult status. Critics who have made fun say that the film had no idea it would be the butt of a joke, but Wiseau has claimed otherwise. He told me the same, even though I didn't ask. Perhaps he wanted to head me off at the path; he's been interviewed quite a bit lately. If everything in the film is "on purpose," Wiseau mentioned that seeing it just once does the film no justice and it needed to be viewed multiple times for "hidden messages." Maybe those folks who are not getting The Room's real sensibility just don't get it. "It's not a Hollywood cookie-cutter type of movie," Wiseau says.
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Whether we all fully "get it" is not stopping Wiseau at all. His newfound fame has led him to work with Tim and Eric of Awesome Show fame as well as on the Syfy network. Additionally, The Room will find an upcoming Blu-ray release, which Wiseau is very proud of. It will be the first movie to come out on Blu-ray to have the ability to play multiple language subtitles at the same time. Maybe that is just the thing that multilingual people out there have been looking for for years? While he wouldn't promise, the Blu-ray may just be available when he comes to visit Houston this week.
Let me say this: He may be a little off his nut, but Wiseau is a lovely conversationalist and whether he's the player or being played, who cares? He's raking it in and will ultimately have the last laugh. But seriously, if you haven't seen this movie, you totally need to for yourself because it's indescribable. As luck would have it, you can see it this weekend at River Oaks along with a Q&A with Tommy Wiseau himself.
The Room screens midnight Friday, December 14, and Saturday, December 15, with star/director Tommy Wiseau and co-star Greg Sestero appearing in person. Tickets are $15 for this very special event. Visit landmarktheatres.com for more information.