Thursday, January 21, 2010

Interview with The Room's Tommy Wiseau

Posted By on Thu, Jan 21, 2010 at 4:28 PM

click to enlarge tommy

[Editor's Note: To learn more about The Room, check out Rabid Nick's Tuesday post on the film.]

Getting inside the head of any film director — let alone one as enigmatic as Tommy Wiseau — can be a daunting challenge. Speaking to me about his cult hit The Room, Mr. Wiseau would not talk about the film's financing or any potential profit. Little is known of his country of birth or much of his background. Tommy Wiseau is a mystery, and that's how the director likes it.

In my interview with Wiseau, I was able to peer a bit behind the curtain at one of Hollywood's most infamous filmmakers. What I found was … How do I put this? What I found was difficult to understand.

Room fans, this is the interview you have been waiting for. Everyone else, hold on tight. Tommy Wiseau in his own words, after the jump …

Rabid Nick Refer: Where did you get the idea for The Room’s story?

Tommy Wiseau: Basically I took from real life. Observing it in my beautiful country such as America. Everything was taken from real life, The Room is not melodrama. What you see is a real life. Some of the words are actually an exaggeration to, you know, provoke the audience.

I understand The Room started out as a play and as a novel. When did you realize this story was better suited for a motion picture?

My background is actually the theater stage. I started writing stuff, you know, piece of paper. And then I said well, you know what, I’ll write a book. And little by little I’d put my notes together. Originally it was supposed to be a play as you know, and then I change it to make it film because in a play theater, the number of people who go to theater is less than cinema. It was very hard for me to create the ambiance that I wanted and I said, writing it for a play theater, two weeks, three weeks and then it be over. And it’s hard work, very hard work, especially with the stage, tiny stage. And because now I have different vision, I want to do the Broadway show — but never mind about that.

click to enlarge theroom01

How long did it take to get The Room from the script phase to actually filming it and what was the casting process like? What were you looking for in a cast?

For your information it started 12 years ago, 12 years ago from 2003.

I said, well I can always go do the play and as a book I said no one will publish, so if I write the script on the novel — but then I change again. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Samuel French bookstores for acting, and they actual publish from New York plays. [They said] "oh yeah, we’ll publish your play if you have a screening first,” if you know, do the play first. But nothing happened, these people, you know it’s difficult, I was pretty naïve at the time, still am really. So long story short.

Do you have any plans on putting out the novel now that all is said and done?

Yeah well, you see, the novel, you know, I’m hoping for publication. Also I wanna put the Broadway show in New York, originally my idea already, but as you know, minimum, Broadway show is … very expensive. It all depends on how you work on the stage and the elements. I want everything slick. Very first-class, so to speak.

How did the filming process go for The Room?  Were there any specific difficulties you had bringing your vision to life?

I answer your question in terms of a captain. What do you do if your ship is sinking? The Room, at the beginning of production, was sinking for time. We changed the crew not three times but four times. People mislead me all the time in articles. We change the crew four times. So long story short again, you see the difficulty was, I knew what I wanted. I never, you see, presented it to a studio. I did my homework.  Ninety-nine percent of what you present they will not produce, period, because they have different take. And today’s the same thing if you ask me. However, I have a great respect for the studios, etc. So difficulty, long story short you know like I said I could write a book about it, the people want to tamper with my project, there was arguments, there were firing people, strikes, name it, we have everything. (laughs)

So it was extremely difficult yeah, but if you’re strong you can make it! It’s that typical American spirit. And then keep in mind with September the 11th on the top of it. My project was completed but suddenly I had this disaster in my life that effect everybody, as you probably know. (more laughing) I’m just laughing to think its all possible. It’s the story within the story if you ask me. I say to all the reporters…

Like you, you probably know what you’re doing, I’m assuming that. I take it you’re part of the media, the writing media and the fact is you guys can write about The Room the rest of your life and not finish the topic talking bout it.  You can interview any person that’s in The Room. How good is The Room? How bad is The Room and why they want to see it 10, 20 times? I rest my case, next question.

click to enlarge room1

Entertainment Weekly published and article about your film and you as a director and labeled you "the Orson Welles of crap".  How do you respond to them regarding that title?

Well you know, you see, it’s again how you define the bad. You know, some people don’t have the concept of a certain … It doesn’t effect me as long as it’s in a sincere way. Like someone said, “The Room doesn’t have a plot.” A plot is a story, you do have a plot in The Room, very clearly but it’s a chopping plot. But that’s my take on the world. And again, people don’t realize, now they’re open a little bit, open little window especially with the symbolism. I only have 99 minutes because that is the standard [of] the film industry, if you actually think about it. See, people don’t think about that. Some of the critics, the media, people in the industry, the criticism of The Room might make them popular. I’m not here to criticize anyone, please don’t misunderstand me. I’m sorry, but the fact is … the fact is I’m sorry, some of these people don’t know what they talk about, ok?

The situation with some of the people who actually worked on The Room who quit the production then come back and want a credit from me and say they worked there and did such a great job is completely nonsense. This is the same people who’re negative talk about The Room, and they don’t know what they talk about.

Who is right who is wrong, that’s the question? What do you do if your ship is sinking, do you abandon your ship? No, I will never abandon my ship with life in it. Some people will, and some people did. The fact is that after other several years people who abandon my ship like deserters from the battlefield, and after the victory they try to come back to me, the captain and want a credit for two hours work, and they implied that they worked so hard for it and because of them we have a better project and the captain did not know what he was doing.

Are you surprised with how the film has taken on a new life after its release, with midnight screenings and such? Why do you think this film has received such a cult following?  How does it feel to attend one and interact with all the people you’ve touched with your work?

Of course I’m as director/producer/actor I don’t force people to like my movie 100 %. It’s something different. I think it’s funny. There is nothing wrong with saying it’s so bad it’s good if that’s what they want to say, I don’t see any problem with it, long as it’s in sincere way. That’s why I love my fans of The Room, that’s why I attend many screenings as I can.

You have to understand, and your readers, The Room is totally different cookie cutter from Hollywood. The media at this point, I don’t think they grasp this. They don’t grasp this and my point is, and I’m not attacking to anyone, based on what I read, I don’t waste my time. My suggestion is that you and your readers should see The Room at least seven times or more in a theater environment to discover the symbolisms within The Room.

One other example I can give you: The one guy from Variety wrote very negative review of The Room, it’s not a secret about but I’m very confident he did not see The Room. He tried to chop it apart and tear it to pieces and me to pieces but it does not affect me because I always believe in my two hands, my brain. I always believe, and always been believing in human behavior. Because I studied the subject. My background also is psychology. We have a lot of human behavior, a lot of symbolism and when people don’t see it and people are very educated in America, I’m talking to a lot of people who went to Stanford University and others who study some of the topics, etc, and I’m sorry, basically the don’t know what they talk about. I’m trying to be nice here. (laughs)

What advice do you have for any aspiring filmmakers?

I basically — you know, that’s a very good question. Think about first 20 percent, then you think about 100 percent. We have a tendency, including myself to say “I’d like to have this 100 percent,” but you cannot have it. Because you have to plan, you see. Let’s say you want to build a house. You need a foundation first before you have a window. You may think about window but guess what? If you don’t have a foundation, I guess you cannot build a house. As simple as it is. Simplicity is a virtue of success and we tend to ah, forget about it.

Are there any plan on bringing The Room to Blu Ray?

Oh yeah yeah, we will be working on this. If not next year, maybe this year.

We will be working on this, definitely, I agree.

I understand you’ve filmed the pilot for a sitcom, The Neighbors. How is that project coming along? Are you planning on making another movie?

Well currently we got an OK with one of the network people, and long story short again, we got OK for one episode. It’s not a secret, but I will not tell you which network. They gave me OK for one uh episode and then partially change mind and I say I will not do one episode, I want to produce least 10, 20 episodes.

And I’m also working on other projects, you know, vampire movie, feature projects.  People want me to direct some of their stuff, I’m extremely busy right now, it’s crazy.

Well then I certainly want to thank you again for taking the time to speak with me.

Sure, no problem, have a nice one.

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