In 2003, Tommy Wiseau introduced himself to the world. While other cinematic visionaries started small – Hitchcock began as an art director and James Dean first starred in a soda commercial – Wiseau launched himself towards fame with the release of The Room. Akin to Orson Welles and Citizen Kane, Tommy Wiseau directed, wrote, produced, and starred in his feature debut. Although it took a few years for Hollywood to learn his name, The Room has now become a global phenomenon. On January 20, 2018, Tommy Wiseau started the new year with a Q & A, screening, and audience love-fest at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood. After his December experience of two back-to-back, sold-out shows at the landmark movie palace, Wiseau declared that the Egyptian Theatre was now the home of The Rom. His next monthly screenings will take place on Saturday, February 24, 2018 at 7:30pm as well as 10:30pm. For the price of admission (and some official The Room merchandise), fans can take a photo with Tommy and have a brief private exchange with him.
Where an average Q & A will typically focus on the filmmaker’s process and behind-the-scenes stories, Wiseau was happy to answer all kinds of questions from the audience. The evening’s conversation covered a variety of topics, ranging from Wiseau’s mastery of Shakespeare to personal advice and insights. When asked to recite a sonnet, Wiseau expertly delivered Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 116.” Another person asked Wiseau if he could improvise a short poem. Without skipping a beat, Wiseau broke into song: “You and me together, we live forever, and tomorrow we will wake up ten o’clock in the morning, we have breakfast together and we’re going to bed back again because we had a good time… hahaha. Good question. That was a challenge, that’s what I like.”
One of the most notable questions of the night highlighted Wiseau’s experience at the 75th annual Golden Globes. During the awards show, Wiseau had tried to speak after James Franco’s win for portraying him in The Disaster Artist, but Franco intercepted him. During the Q & A, Wiseau told the audience that “what I wanted to say is that if a lot of people love each other the world will be a better place to live in. I’m an American, and I’m very proud of that because America is a country where we should be proud to say every time we live in this beautiful country USA”. After answering, the audience erupted into applause and a brief “U-S-A” cheer.
About halfway through the evening, Wiseau took a quick break to talk about his New Year’s resolution. He said that his goal for every Q & A is to say “Respect equals success. What I suggest to all of you guys here is if you have a neighbor or a friend who’s bad for you or very disrespectful, start tomorrow. Be nice to the guy or girl, whoever they are, and see if you can get nice back. Better respectful people, that’s what I’m talking about”. He reiterated his message of “Respect equals success” throughout the rest of the evening. He cites it as the most important thing to building a lasting friendship, declaring: “Respect equals success, respect equals friendship, and friendship includes me, you, and them, whoever they are. You can love everybody if you want, it’s up to you." At another point, he was asked to give advice to an aspiring actor. Instead of just answering the question plain and simple, Wiseau invited the aspiring actor to the front of the theatre, had him recite some lines from Hamlet, and told him to “keep going.”
There’s simply no one in Hollywood like Tommy Wiseau. It’s impossible to recreate his work and the circumstances behind it, yet The Room has managed to inspire countless moviegoers. It’s not just the celebrities like James Franco and David Cross who evangelize the movie, but also the everyday people who are motivated by Wiseau’s success. His story is that of rejection, ambition, fearlessness, and love. Everything Wiseau does – whether it be for film or his fans – demonstrates an intense and genuine love for everyone in the world. Ultimately, he says, “Love is blind”.
Additional comments from Tommy Wiseau:
On whether he prefers Queen or Led Zeppelin: “Both are good. Don’t put me in the spot, no way. It’s like when people ask me to choose either The Room or The Disaster Artist. It doesn’t matter what you like as long as you enjoy yourself."
On chocolate: “Chocolate is a symbol of love as long as it’s not poisoned."
When asked what color he’d paint a time machine: “Blue."
When asked about his opinion on the new Star Wars movie: “I want next question."
Stephen Michaels is a playwright and screenwriter from Los Angeles. He is a current student at Chapman University where he studies screenwriting at the Dodge College of Film and Media Arts.