Though many a laugh has rolled at his expense, Tommy Wiseau is a resilient man.
Tommy Wiseau’s “The Room”
Friday and Saturday at midnight
Consider: His notoriety stems entirely from his life’s work, 2003’s “The Room,” an incoherent melodrama which he wrote and directed straight into the running for the worst film of all time. As if that strange form of infamy isn’t bad enough, Wiseau has even more difficulty expressing himself in person than he does on screen. Still, he remains unflinchingly committed to filmmaking, art and the betterment of humanity.
In anticipation of this weekend’s midnight screenings of “The Room” for the Ann Arbor Film Festival, the Daily had the rare pleasure of talking with Wiseau. In the end, it was difficult to say which was more salient: his passion or his eccentricity.
“‘The Room’ was designed by me for American people — to enjoy it,” Wiseau explained emphatically as he raced through the back story of his film’s mysterious conception.
He took the road less traveled, but with the final product — a disjointed, dysfunctional, junkpile with sub-soap opera acting — Wiseau got his wish. Priding himself as an auteur, though, he of course doesn’t see it that way.
“It was not just an accident. It was not a coincidence. I don’t believe in that kind of stuff — I believe in creativity,” he sermonized, simultaneously admitting his awareness of prevailing perceptions of the film and attempting to dispel such damning notions.
Embracing the popularity of “The Room” among midnight audiences, Wiseau sports an admirable pride in his work and his mission. In the process, though, he blurs the line between loveable loser and delusional egomaniac. After all, he fired cast and crew members en masse multiple times during the course of production.
“How dare these people strike against ‘The Room’ during production?,” Wiseau wondered out loud. His tone was far less innocent than it had been when he explained the source of his creative conviction just moments before, saying, “That’s where art comes from — to create a better society for people.”
Between these comprehensible (if trite) inspirational quips about the power of arts in society, Wiseau had a tendency to spew adorable non sequiturs in ample doses.
“It’s not ‘A Room,’ it’s ‘The Room!,’ ” he insisted at one point, a healthy defiance audible in his accented voice.
“For your information, I’ve met everybody in Hollywood — almost,” he revealed as he prepared to address his decision to include nudity in “The Room.”
As the conversation endured through his eternal soliloquies, Wiseau became more and more eager to discuss the ever-present symbolism with which he adorned “The Room.”
“What does a red dress represent?,” Wiseau questioned. “Well, it represents blood. What does blood represent? Survival, life, eternity for human beings.”
That was his justification for the seemingly inconsequential red dress costume worn by female lead Lisa (Juliette Danielle). It was but the first of many wildly unpredictable claims.
“The plastic is chemical! The chemical is very bad for human beings,” he warned, alluding to the conspicuous presence of framed pictures of plastic spoons which dot the titular set of “The Room.”
“I’m not against a plastic spoon! Contrary, I love it! Because, you see, that’s a part of our survival here in America.”
And with that, Wiseau again hinted at what seems to be the unifying aspiration in all his efforts: to positively impact America. He may seem naïve and delusional, but as he forges on with his craft in the face of criticism, mockery, and straight-up bashing, it’s hard not to root for him. His technique may be wholly unformed, but the idea of stifling his abundant creative energy seems plainly criminal.
Luckily for Wiseau and his fans, the fluke success of “The Room” only fuels his ambitions.
“It will affect everyone in America,” he guarantees of his next feature project, which he hopes to complete within six months. For now, though, he remains famous for “The Room,” and deservedly so.
“You can talk about ‘The Room’ with fans for the rest of your life,” Wiseau promised. “And guess what — you’ll still be talking.”