Tommy Wiseau

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Tommy Wiseau
Tommy Wiseau.jpg
Wiseau in 2010
OccupationFilm director, screenwriter, actor, film producer
Years active2003–present
 
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Tommy Wiseau
Tommy Wiseau.jpg
Wiseau in 2010
OccupationFilm director, screenwriter, actor, film producer
Years active2003–present

Tommy Wiseau (/wəˈs/) is a director, screenwriter, producer and actor. He is best known for The Room (2003), which has been described as "one of the worst movies ever made" and has gained cult film status.[1] He also directed the 2004 documentary Homeless in America and the pilot episode of a sitcom called The Neighbors.[2][3]

Personal life[edit]

Early life[edit]

Wiseau is secretive about his early life.[4] He claimed to have grown up in New Orleans, Louisiana,[5][6] and to have lived in France "a long time ago",[7] moving back and forth between the United States and Europe throughout his life. Wiseau spent some time in France before moving to Chalmette, Louisiana.[8]

Actor Greg Sestero claims in his book The Disaster Artist that Wiseau moved to Strasbourg, France as a young adult, where he adopted the name Pierre and worked as a restaurant dishwasher, later moving to San Francisco, where he worked as a street vendor selling toys to tourists near Fisherman's Wharf. Sestero recounts how locals nicknamed him "The Birdman" for his unique bird toys that were only popular in Europe at the time; this moniker led him to legally change his name to Thomas Pierre Wiseau, "taking the French word for bird, oiseau, and swapping out the O for the W of his birth name".[9] A Reddit user suggested that the "W" may be related to Wieczor, the surname of a couple in Louisiana who may be Wiseau's aunt and uncle.[10] According to Sestero, Wiseau worked in the San Francisco Bay Area in a variety of jobs, including restaurant busboy and hospital worker, as well as a second business called Street Fashions USA, selling irregular blue jeans at discounted prices. Wiseau eventually purchased and rented out large retail spaces in and around San Francisco and Los Angeles, making him independently wealthy.[9]

Sestero claims that a young Wiseau was wrongfully arrested following a drug raid at a youth hostel, and was detained and tortured for an indeterminate period of time by French police, a traumatic experience that led him to arrange passage to America to live with his aunt and uncle in Chalmette, Louisiana.[9] Sestero recounts that at some point in late adulthood, Wiseau was involved in a near-fatal car crash in California after another driver ran a red light and struck Wiseau's vehicle; as a result, Wiseau was hospitalized for several weeks. Sestero believes that this incident was the turning point in Wiseau's life that led him to pursue his dreams of becoming an actor and director, ambitions that he had long neglected while pursuing financial security.[9]

Age and birth year[edit]

In interviews following the release of The Room, Wiseau gave an age which puts his birth date in 1968 or 1969.[11]

In his 2013 memoir The Disaster Artist, actor Sestero related that Wiseau offered several stories about his past, over the course of their 15-year friendship.[9] Sestero claims to have obtained copies of Wiseau's immigration papers via his brother's girlfriend, revealing that Wiseau was "much older" than he claimed,[9] and that he was born in the 1950s somewhere in the Eastern Bloc of communist Europe.[9] Some researchers have put forth that Wiseau may very likely have been from Poland based on documents found regarding his family's ancestry.[12]

Career[edit]

Film[edit]

Wiseau's best known production is the film The Room, released in 2003. Its budget was $6 million, the financing of which has remained a source of intrigue, and was based on an unpublished 540-page novel written by Wiseau himself.[13] The movie was immediately lambasted by critics,[14] but ultimately became a "cult classic" with late-night showings at theaters around the world. Audience members typically arrive wearing wigs resembling their favorite characters, interact with the dialogue on screen, and throw plastic cutlery and footballs around the theater. This attention grew into what was dubbed The Room's 2010–2011 "Love is Blind" International Tour, with the movie being screened in the United Kingdom, Germany, Denmark, Australia and India, among other locations. Wiseau appears at many of these events, posing for photographs with fans and often addressing the audience before screenings.[15]

In 2004 Wiseau produced and appeared in a short documentary, Homeless in America. In 2010, Wiseau acted in a short film entitled The House That Drips Blood on Alex, a parody horror film written and produced by sketch comedy group Studio8. The film had a preview showing at Comic-Con on July 24, 2010. It premiered on Comedy Central and appeared online on October 14, 2010.[16][17]

Wiseau has stated that he has been influenced by the films The Guns of Navarone and Citizen Kane, and specifically the actors James Dean and Marlon Brando.[18][19][13] According to Sestero, Wiseau's obsession with James Dean was so intense that he often visited a Los Angeles restaurant owned by a former acquaintance of Dean's, and that several lines of dialogue in The Room (including the infamous cry "You are tearing me apart, Lisa!") were based on lines from Rebel Without a Cause.[9]

Television[edit]

In 2008, Wiseau produced and appeared in the pilot episode of a television series called The Neighbors. A trailer for The Neighbors showed a series of clips set in an office. The show's website, accompanied by trailers and announcements at The Room showings in 2014, stated that the show is coming to Comedy.TV in September 2014.[20]

In 2009, Wiseau guest-starred in an episode of Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! entitled "Tommy", wherein Wiseau guest-directed a segment entitled "Pigman". After expressing a desire to work with the duo again,[18] Tim and Eric announced in 2009 that they were developing two series for Wiseau.[21]

In 2010, Wiseau appeared in Marc Wooton's 2010 comedy TV series, 'La La Land'. In a mockumentary format, Wooton's character, Gary Garner, accepted a role in Wiseau's present production at the time, and caused Wiseau to kick Wooton off set after Wooton alluded to using production funds to buy instant lotto tickets.

Internet[edit]

In 2011, Wiseau starred in a YouTube web series called Tommy Explains it All, in which he explained his views on various topics ranging from Citizen Kane to the art of kissing.[22] Wiseau has also starred in segments on Machinima.com called The Tommy Wi-Show. The segments show Wiseau playing various video games, such as Mortal Kombat, Driver: San Francisco, and offering commentary.[23][24][25]

Filmography[edit]

YearTitleDirectorProducerWriterActorRoleNotes
2003The RoomYesYesYesYesJohnny
2004Homeless in AmericaYesYesYesYesHimselfInterviewer
2009Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!YesHimselfEpisode: "Tommy"
2010The House That Drips Blood on AlexYesAlex and Mysterious StrangerShort film
2011BumpYesRickShort film
2011Tommy Explains it AllYesHimselfWeb series
2011–2012The Tommy Wi-ShowYesHimselfWeb series
2014The NeighborsYesYesYesYesCharlie, Ricky RickOstensible TV series

Awards and nominations[edit]

YearWorkAwardCategoryResult
2004Homeless in AmericaNew York International Independent Film & Video FestivalBest Social Documentary (L.A. Festival)Won
2004The RoomNew York International Independent Film & Video FestivalAudience Award – Feature (Miami Festival)Won
2010HimselfHarvard's Ivory Tower (Harvard Undergraduate Television) Filmmaker of the YearFilmmaker of the YearWon

References[edit]

  1. ^ Collis, Clark (2008-12-30). "'The Room': Worst movie ever? Don't tell that to its suddenly in-demand star.". popwatch.ew.com. Retrieved 23 November 2009. 
  2. ^ Star Phoenix article: "Shlocking encounter: Notoriously bad cult film spawns curious collective contempt[dead link]."
  3. ^ Portland Mercury article: "Tommy Wiseau: The Complete Interview(s)"
  4. ^ Collis, Clark (2008-12-12). "The Crazy Cult of 'The Room'". EW.com. Retrieved 2013-10-30. 
  5. ^ "Interview: Tommy Wiseau « Terminal Laughter". Terminallaughter.wordpress.com. Retrieved 2009-07-18. 
  6. ^ Maddux, Rachael (May 8, 2012). "Trapped in The Room with Tommy Wiseau". CL Atlanta. Retrieved January 3, 2013. 
  7. ^ Seattle Post Intelligencer article: "Is 'The Room' the worst movie of all time?"
  8. ^ "Capone's wacky Windy City weekend with Wiseau, creator of THE ROOM!!!". Ain't It Cool News. April 12, 2010. Retrieved 2013-01-20. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside the Room by Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell. Simon and Schuster, 2013.
  10. ^ "A Redditor sleuth has unraveled the mystery of Tommy Wiseau's nationality". The A.V. Club. 2014-01-20. Retrieved 2014-02-08. 
  11. ^ "Interview with Tommy Wiseau, actor/writer/director/producer of The Room | Cinetology". Blogs.crikey.com.au. 2010-02-16. Retrieved 2012-12-19. 
  12. ^ Modell, Josh (2014-01-20). "A Redditor sleuth has unraveled the mystery of Tommy Wiseau's nationality · Newswire · The A.V. Club". Avclub.com. Retrieved 2014-08-25. 
  13. ^ a b Knegt, Peter. "Tommy Wiseau Goes Legit". IndieWire. Retrieved 8 August 2012. 
  14. ^ Entertainment Weekly "The Crazy Cult That is the Room"
  15. ^ "The Room Official Movie Site". Retrieved March 12, 2011. 
  16. ^ "SD Comic-Con 2010: Teaser Trailer: Tommy Wiseau's The House that Dripped Blood on Alex". Dreadcentral.com. 2010-07-14. Retrieved 2010-09-15. 
  17. ^ "Get Ready For The Comic-Con Premiere Of Tommy Wiseau In The House That Drips Blood On Alex | The Atom Blog". Atom.com. 2010-06-23. Retrieved 2010-09-15. [dead link]
  18. ^ a b "Josh Rubenoff: Interview of Tommy Wiseau". jrubenoff.com. Retrieved 2013-06-24. 
  19. ^ The A.V. Club article: "Interview: Tommy Wiseau"
  20. ^ "The Neighbors official site". 2014-08-04. Retrieved 2014-08-04. 
  21. ^ "Wired article". "Wired article". 2009-10-19. Retrieved 2010-09-15. 
  22. ^ "Episode 2: How Do You Know When You're In Love". "TommyExplainsItAll". 2011-06-01. Retrieved 2011-11-20. 
  23. ^ "The Tommy Wi-Show Ep. 1: Mortal Kombat (Machinima)". "Machinima.com". 2011-09-24. Retrieved 2011-09-25. 
  24. ^ "The Tommy Wi-Show is a video game show with Tommy Wiseau". "Joystiq". 2011-09-14. Retrieved 2011-09-25. 
  25. ^ "The Tommy Wi-Show Ep. 5: Driver: San Francisco (Machinima)". Machinima.com. 2011-09-24. Retrieved 2014-10-06. 

External links[edit]