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'The Room's' Tommy Wiseau On His Past, His Future, And His Underwear

Logan Byrne
Lake Effect's Joy Powers sits down with Tommy Wiseau.

It’s known as the best worst movie ever made. That might sound like a huge contradiction - and it is. But for fans of the film The Room, it is an all-too-relatable phenomenon.

The film follows the story of Johnny, an All-American man and successful banker who lives with his future wife, Lisa. He has a best friend named Mark and a neighbor Denny, whose relationship to Johnny is confusing, at best.

The film’s director, writer, and producer is also its star - Tommy Wiseau - an enigmatic man whose dedication to his work has created an odd cult of personality and inspired the film The Disaster Artist.

Where is he from? No one really knows, but his thick, European accent gives some clues. How old is he? That’s unclear. His real name? Who can say? And if you ask him, he's unlikely to give you an answer. 

"I’m American and I’m very proud of it - is your choice what you want to talk about. If you don’t want to talk about, you don’t have to talk about," Wiseau explains, with a line of thinking he frequently repeats. 

What is clear is Wiseau is the man-behind a cult-classic, completely shaped by his artistic vision.

"Is your choice what you want to talk about. If you don't want to talk about, you don't have to talk about," says Wiseau.

Live screenings of The Room have become a performance in their own right. Beyond the film's perplexing plot, it features a number of peculiar elements, including several framed portraits of spoons. When they appear on screen, audience members shout, "SPOONS," and throw plastic utensils at the screen (prompting most movie theaters to include a kind of safety screen during shows).

READ: Milwaukee's 30+ Years of Shadowcasting 'The Rocky Horror Picture Show'

At various points in the film the characters will play football for no discernible reason. In response, audience members will throw footballs to one another (that safety screen is really key). 

Credit Joy Powers
Tommy Wiseau on-stage doing a live Q&A at the Oriental Theater. He largely responded to questions by saying, "Next Question."

When Wiseau is asked about the cult-following his film has recieved, his thoughts are scattered between The Room's designation as a bad movie and its genuine popularity. He says you can't force people to like something, but he believes there is something truly likeable about the film. 

"See The Room, have fun. That's basically what I say. You may be surprised," says Wiseau. "So if you don't like it, see it again. Hopefully, you like it eventually."

And if you don't like it, maybe you'll like his custom underwear

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Joy Powers hosts and produces Lake Effect. She joined WUWM January 2016 as a producer for Lake Effect.