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Tommy Wiseau Reflects on 20 Years of ‘The Room’

This article was originally published on Respect My Region

“It’s like Rocky Horror, but more … just come, you’ll love it.”

Explaining The Room to someone who isn’t familiar with its customs is quite the challenge. At this point, referring to it as a film that’s “so bad that it’s good” is a cop-out — it’s been said too many times and we’re well past that. Examining why this irregular and outlandish work of fiction continues to have such a strong presence in the entertainment sphere is perhaps the more productive conversation.

It wasn’t the first (and by no means the last) movie to generate sardonic interest. Unconvincing acting and implausible plotlines are everywhere, but what makes The Room special is that it comes from a place of unadulterated sincerity.

For better or for worse, watching people believe in themselves is enthralling, and the man solely responsible for The Room is his own brand ambassador, mascot and hypeman (he mastered multitasking when he wrote, directed, produced and starred in the film). Yet, he does it all without any arrogance … he just takes himself and his craft really seriously, which, despite the outcome, deserves a round of applause.

Tommy Wiseau is unlike anyone you’ll ever meet. In terms of body language and delivery, he is practically indistinguishable from the “character” he plays in what has become his accidental masterpiece. Those who continue to energize The Room have cemented a tradition around his personality that now exists beyond the frame and in a place of eternal, tongue-in-cheek triumph.

“You can say negative stuff — there’s nothing wrong with that,” Wiseau said about the project’s grander motive. “You don’t have to like it, but maybe you find something in The Room that intrigues you. Be free when you watch it.”

And that is exactly what the screenings encourage — freedom, participation and engagement. Attendees heckle on cue, interact with the dialogue and throw plastic spoons at the screen every time a framed picture of the utensil appears in front of them. It’s a pop-up ecosystem that flourishes every single time despite its sporadic appearances, and even though the film isn’t taken seriously, Wiseau accomplished his goal of getting through to people.

“I hope that people understand that this is just a movie,” he said about those who assess his work objectively. “Don’t be too serious, for God’s sake. Go to see The Room, have fun and forget the world. That’s what The Room is about — to express yourself and have fun.”

The dialogue was initially written for theatre and even performed a few times on stage in Washington DC, but Wiseau soon realized it was better suited for the big screen. He rewrote the script and bestowed upon it an imperishable life, never allowing the negativity that continues to loom over it to bring down his spirit. In fact, he’s on the same side as those who watch it, regardless of their reasons, and this has positioned him to feed off any response.

“Nothing happened by accident,” Wiseau clarified, standing firmly by the product to this day. “So why would I change anything when we get a good reaction?”

And this has remained a fact ever since The Room became a comedy cult classic. That being the case, does it really matter where the movie came from when it turned into something so striking and peculiar? Truthfully, an anomaly such as this isn’t exactly meant for people fixated on purpose.

Regarding that, Wiseau said, “I never pitched the script to any person in Hollywood because I didn’t want to be rejected.”

That’s the fascinating part about The Room — it’s always been accepted. Wiseau funded the entire project with money he made from his clothing store in San Francisco, ‘Street Fashions,’ and he has no regrets about how it turned out because people still talk about it and attend its screenings two decades later!

As The Room celebrates its 20th anniversary today with screenings in over 700 theatres across the United States, Wiseau is touring the country to promote his new film. Big Shark, in his succinct words, is about “three firemen rescuing New Orleans from the big shark.”

If you keep an open mind, you’ll most likely find yourself on the same team as Wiseau once again, and that way, we can all be in on the fun.

“I’m open-minded person,” he said, and you should be too.


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