Oh hai, Chewers. Below you’ll find my truly epic interview with Tommy Wiseau, but before I get started with an intro and get into the interview itself, I thought I’d run down everything we covered for quick reference…
– Tommy discusses The Room reading, and the unpublished 600/800 page novel on which the movie and the play are based
– He updates us on the progress of The Room Blu-ray and 3D conversion
– He discussed some of the new material might see in the play version of The Room
– Tommy has big visions for the potential Broadway version of the show, which he describes
– He updates us on the status of his network show The Neighbors, and his narrative feature that tackles the economy
– He takes numerous opportunities to clear up misconceptions about himself and The Room
I’ve attached the audio to the interview below as well, so feel free to listen to it and hear the man for yourself. The quality is not astounding, and there’s some difficult stretches, but the transcript is still pretty complete.
Striking a few similar nerves as Rocky Horror and Troll 2, Tommy Wiseau’s The Room was an almost overnight midnight hit in 2003, and it hasn’t lost a bit of momentum since. What makes it similar to Troll 2 is the endearingly naive DIY sensibility to the entire project and that, between Tommy’s appearances and the rest of the cast’s careers, the whole story is still so accessible. What makes it similar to the much more routine and historic Rocky Horror is that it taps into a similar absurdity that gives the audience license to participate and involve themselves, even if the film itself is on the opposite end of the self-aware spectrum. What I enjoy is that because the film is still relatively new to the midnight world and fresh audiences are still attending, not all of the interaction between the audience and the film is as set in stone as it is at a Rocky Horror show. The screenings I’ve attended had fresh, organic moments from the audience over the course of the entire film that made the entire experience more communal and fun.
Most importantly though, is that The Room is providing a real, measurable benefit to film fans by helping out the small indie theaters that can depend on the concessions and tickets sales every month, with low overhead. The right people are benefiting from it.
At the center of it all though, is Tommy Wiseau. He’s a controversial guy –very difficult to quantify– and for all of his questionable methods and abilities, there’s clearly a determined work ethic driving him. What’s not present is a cynical cash-grabbing con man. There are some shady elements to the story of The Room, and there are legitimate questions of credit still floating around, but Tommy believes the things he says. He believes in The Room, sees the joy it brings to people, and even if he has to send that observed joy through a bit of a haze filter to draw the conclusion that The Room is “good” in a traditional sense, he’s not wrong. Ultimately he’s produced something that’s become in-demand, while becoming a commodity himself. Without diving off the deep end, I don’t think it’s any unfair stretch to say The Room is absolutely a work that represents the man who made it. It’s filled with symbolism and thematic content that honestly reflect thoughts and instincts in Wiseau, even if the way they’re all pieced together and technically achieved is fucking bonkers.
I was able to chat with Tommy for nearly 30 minutes last week, and from our conversations a few things became clear to me- he’s obsessed with the misconceptions he feels still surround him and The Room, he’s got a lot of big ideas, and he’s not afraid to tackle questions and criticisms head on. He’s also very nice- for whatever that’s worth. I left our interview absolutely positive the man was genuine, even if I think he might be a little out of this world.
I hope you enjoy….
R: I’m doing great, how are you?
T: I’m okay, what’s happening?
R: Not much man.
T: Okay, so let’s just start out- you can ask any question you want, no restrictions, we’ll see what direction we go, okay?
R: Sounds good to me.
T: Okay Renn. Renn, right?
R: Yeah, you got it perfect. To start off by talking about the play, I wanted to know how you took all of the energy from The Room and its unusual but stellar success and decide that this play is what you wanted to do next, and how did you go about starting the work of making this reading happen.
T: Well, yeah, what we are doing actually Renn is a reading/play. The idea, I came up with one of the organizers, and say “yeah, we do it-” …see I’m planning for Broadway, you know. The original- I don’t know if you’re familiar with The Room or not.
R: I am.
T: Oh, you are. Okay so, originally it was supposed to be a play and- again, some of these people, where they’re blogging or talking about The Room online, with due respect, is completely nonsense…. I have no comments about that, but lets respond to your question.
So I studied it very deeply, and I said, “You know what? No more people-” …the reason I decided to do the script… again, some people blogging that we didn’t have a script on the set is completely nonsense. Because the script is based on the 600/800 pages of the book, and long story short, my background as an actor is in the theater. So I wanted to present this originally in the theater, but I changed my mind. And now I was thinking very deeply about Broadway. I’m touring right now and we do a lot of the scenes up on the stage anyhow, [recording intelligible] …and that’s what we’ll be doing on June 10th and 11th. So I’m very happy, one of the original cast will be there, Greg Sestero- hopefully he will show up, ha ha, but he’s supposed to be there. I’ll be directing of course, and there will be everything on the stage, and we’ll see how we do! I’m very excited to do it.
R: Gotcha. So is there blocking, or is this just purely going back to the original theatrical script? What kind 0f-
T: Yeah, it will be the original script. We’ll be doing limited rehearsal, we’re doing casting right now- this week. [Which you can be a part of, by entering here!] We’re doing limited rehearsal because we have limited time, you know, I wish we had much more time but right now I’m in Los Angeles, I’m not in D.C. so everyone will almost all be from D.C.- all the actors. So, you know, I give them as much as I can to share my skills with the production- also, we’ll be recording entire production from the beginning. So people will find out what the skills Tommy Wiseau has. Because again, as you’ve probably heard, some of these assumptions that people have- and I’m not here to criticize, but some of this stuff it’s just completely nonsense. But I believe in preparation, again, I’m a stage actor and the way- each actor we are casting as a double for the stage, and hopefully we’ll accomplish that as well in D.C. and everybody who reviews will be a part of the audience and will enjoy it. We actually will be doing the scenes as well, it’s not just a straight “read” we also do the scene as well. Almost 80%- that’s where we’re gonna put it.
R: So what will you be doing to prepare yourself to play this character –which you’ve already interpreted before for the film– and reinterpret it with all these new people?
T: Well you know, I would say a good actor, good director- you have to adjust accordingly to the situation. I like your question, by the way-
R: Thank you.
T: It’s a good question- you know, you have to take the risk and you have to adjust based on the situation, but these are the skills not everyone has. Hopefully the media will show up and see for themselves, but we will be recording everything. Ha ha, this is The Room, I will record everything- this is part of The Room. So this extra footage will be published as well, so I am very prepared about it. How it will come out- I’m not sure 100 percent, but with a good spirit, and my good skills, and all the people’s skills as well, I think we can do a very good show.
R: Considering that the feature film has taken on a life of its own, and sub-culture of people enjoying it at the midnight screenings across the country, do you have any fear or hesitation or feelings that people might bring the baggage of the screenings with them an try to participate too much?
T: Well, you know I always give the little speech- I like when people participate, I’m pro-freedom, so people laughing or whatever, that’s love. There’s nothing wrong with that. Again, some of the people- stage production is slightly different. When you see the movie you want to find out what’s next. When you look at the stage production –and some of the people are fans of The Room and they know about what happens next– here, even though we go by the script, many different things could happen on the stage. So hopefully people are orderly, but I anticipate that everything will be just hunky-dory, ha ha.
R: You mention that everything’s being recorded and might be published in the future, and you’ve also mentioned in the past that you hope to see a The Room Blu-ray come out later this year or next- do you feel like this might end up on that Blu-ray?
T: Well yeah, you know- and good statement, I don’t know where you get that statement but you’re right on the money- we may put it on the Blu-ray, some footage. I’m not sure yet, we’ll see how everything turns around. The Blu-ray I’m currently working on and it will be releasing before December, and then 3D, I don’t know if you heard about it-
R: I have!
T: I want to do it for next year, 2012.
R: With the 3D- have you tested that yet?
T: Yes we did, and the good and bad thing is… The good thing, is that yes, it’s workable. The bad thing is that it is also a lot of money, ha ha.
R: Right, I’ve heard how much that can cost.
T: Keep in mind, we’re scanning from 35mm print, the same for Blu-ray. We’re not going HD, we’re actually scanning from 35mm print, which we get a better resolution than HD. But we also do have HD tape too, so in the process- we do the test in HD and then 35mm. Coincidentally, I don’t know if you know, I don’t believe in coincidence but maybe it was destiny, but I shot it in both formats, HD and 35mm. And again some of the people, I don’t know if you’ve heard Renn, it’s tough because the 3D format is HD format- it’s a huge difference. People don’t realize that it’s a huge difference, what you see in the theater is 35mm print. So the cost is dramatic, at the same time I understand some people get confused. Let’s move on, next question.
R: Without giving anything away, what new material can people expect from this play/reading. Entirely new scenes, new characters, or different plots..?
T: Well again, the difference will be that- you have to understand the script is based off the 600 –I say /800 because I will be adding more pages than that, from 600 to 800 in the novel, that’s what I have. Now this is what’s condensed by me by almost 1/8 is what you see in the movie. So I can do a lot of different scenes, let me give you an example- Johnny, Mark, and Danny actually they’re playing basketball, we might put the basketball on the stage, I’m not sure yet. We can do other scenes as well, we can put football in the park with other people, not just Mark and Danny, and Mark and Johnny just joking- they’re actually playing football in a park. So we can adjust that which you did not see in the movie, but you will see on the stage, okay. So a lot of different scenes I can add to the stage, the play. So, it’s very exciting because you have 800 pages you condense to 99 you can not put everything there because otherwise you have to produce 800 pages, and 800 pages in Hollywood you know would take you 8 hours to see the movie.
R: Not to mention be more expensive than would ever be possible.
T: Right, well anything is possible, but it would be not workable based on the industry standard feature movie, which is 99 minutes. So that’s what we have yeah, we may have a new scene as well.
[Here we talk about the recording and the coverage that will be happening. It remains in the audio.]
T: Let me stress something here about the play again, that the play when I’m adding a scene, I’m not adding just to create new scenes- it’s based on my novel. My 800 pages novel- that’s what we have here. So it’s not like it’s new, it’s from the book. The book, as you know, was never published, long story short. Some people have some interest now that the movie has become popular or whatever, ha ha, which I’m happy to report. But again, it’s very easy to adapt on the stage, and I’m very confident we will have a groovy time, and maybe people will show up like you and others or your friends, whatever, and will cover the play.
R: Well certainly, I’m gonna do what I can to get you some people out there [by giving away tickets!].
T: Right, no problem, you are reports of the system, whatever- move on, next question.
R: I’ve seen before, hopefully it was accurate, but you’ve mentioned you could foresee some kind of musical element being a part of this went to Broadway, or you’ve considered that in the past. Is that something that still in your brain-
T: Definitely. This is, to me, the first pass for the Broadway show. If you ask me. We talk about publicly using the material from The Room– close to two hours, or one-and-a-half whatever time we have to present the play/reading, and that’s the touchdown to the Broadway, of course.
R: Gotcha… So if this were to progress and become a full Broadway production and got that kind of momentum behind it, what other kinds of things would you try to do- if you were to have the scale and the freedom to do things maybe you couldn’t do before with the film, or that would be unique to the theatrical form.
T: Well you ask me, on Broadway show yeah, I have many visions. Let me give you a couple of examples- if you want to hear.
T: For example, Johnny can sing ♪ You are tearing me apart, Lisaaaa ♪ and you have like, maybe five or six different Johnnys, you know, but they’re dressed up the same so they’ll be identified as the character. The Lisa- we can have a main Lisa, and we can maybe have a secondary Lisa. Like when Johnny gives the flowers, she can maybe be singing at the same time while at the same time taking the flowers. I mean there’s so many things to do. As you know, today technology will actually help us to create… To me, the production should be that we can suck the audience into the stage, if I do it on Broadway. This is the idea, what I have in my head for many years, but again I did my research and some of the people who are blogging or are listening to this inteview as well and maybe can write about it, are completely off the wall, if I may say that, to be nice. Some of the people who are connected to the mainstream media -and again, I’m not here to criticize anyone- but some of you guys listening to me can contact me and I’ll be glad to explain to you. It’s just to make an assumption, people have an assumption for example that we didn’t have a script on the set when we shot The Room– that’s incorrect. I create The Room, number one. Number two, the script was there, it’s based on my novel, which is 800 pages. That’s basically what we have here. Let’s talk about that very quickly- you see adaptating this to broadway, you see we have support from people, not just the audience but certain producers. Again, by design The Room was for the stage, I’m a stage actor.
The reason I decided -which I think was a great move- to produce it as a film was because I did the research. Number of people who show up to the theater is much higher. I’m talking about cinema theater, not play theater. As you probably know, in America we don’t go to see the play as often as we see the movies, that’s number one. Number two, the cost of any tiny little theater in Los Angeles will cost you an arm and a leg, it costs a lot of money, and you don’t know how many people will show up, number one, and number two- you have a play only for two weeks that does not usually work. You may travel around with it, which is very hard. The film is much easier, but my heart is on Broadway. I see shows on Broadway, I love Broadway, I love New York. By the way, we are going to Ziegfeld Theater in New York [link, currently on their front page], we’re very happy with that. I work very hard and we think people will enjoy seeing it on Broadway. It will be slightly different, of course- musicals are different from movies, but it will be very enjoyable to watch it and if I can, I will say that any of you guys who have any comments can send us email, can send to you, whatever. Move on, next question.
R: Excellent- well, we’ve been going for a little while and before I lose you, I wanted to see what else is in the future for you. I know you’ve had a vampire film, a network show, and a film about the economy that you’ve mentioned before- any of those moving along at all?
T: The Neighbors, I’m working on The Neighbors. The [economy film] will be out before Christmas, I’m working on, it too will be submitted to the Academy Awards. Again, The Room was submitted to the Academy Awards, I don’t know if you knew that.
R: Right yeah, I did.
T: Again, since you ask about The Room, from the beginning I want to say something else, which I think is important. People don’t understand -again, I’m not here to criticize, I just want to keep cool and get the racket straight- I fired and people quit the production four times, so we had four crews, four actors- it was very stressful for me. But that is the job. But the fact is also that people tried to tamper with my project. They didn’t have a vision, from script supervisor to the gaffer, people trying to boss me around, say “do this.” I say, “No, you will not do my project. You see the door? Go through the door and don’t come back.” So to respond to your question, again, I’m working on The Neighbors, I’m trying- we just came back from Canada- we had such a great, great screening there. [Something about a “scene” I can’t discern.] Again, any production- it’s not easy guys. It is what it is. You have to really put yourself there, work really hard, as well as create original material.
R: I would love to hear more about your film that deals with the economy, whatever you can say about that.
T: I don’t want to give away, but it relates to foreclosures. I’m very business oriented, again you know, people probably know, I’m just saying because I want to have a groovy time, and you as well, somebody listening… We all are Americans, so some of the assumptions people have are completely nonsense. Renn, it has nothing to do with you. Okay, this project is related to foreclosures and a certain dilemma with the consumer signing for a deal he or she doesn’t get. It’s not only misleading, it’s more than misleading. Let me give you an example, when I grew up I remember very clearly, you go to a bank, usually people would call you by name. Today’s society- you don’t have that. I think we miss, what I would say is a one-to-one contact with the bank. So you may go to your bank ask for money, say you want to buy a house, etc, and then right now, we have different [indiscernible]. It affects a lot of Americans. Personally I think it’s unjust, it’s really not right. It’s nothing to do that when you have a contract with a bank, that you can not read English or the fonts of the statement itself are so little… no, that’s not it. It is that certain people create certain environments for you to accept what you have, because you don’t have a choice. People forget one thing, that we live in America actually, and we do have choices. That’s what the movie is about. Also the movie stresses the dilemma that, “Wait a minute, that’s not right.” You know the expression, “greed is good.” But greed is not really good- the banks always make a lot of money, that’s the bottom line. It’s not just the money, it’s also the conscience. If the people who are in charge, who say, “well, we follow our rules” whatever, but actually “we will create your rules.” You can not have it both ways, and that’s what the movie is about. A lot of politicans- and I’m not a politician guy, but I tell you right now by observation that a lot of people say, “I can’t do anything about it” or “I would, but I’m not in charge.” But wait a minute, you are in charge. You can not have it both ways. You know what I’m saying?
R: Right, right.
T: So this is the thing, at the screenings people ask me questions and I enjoy it because you see, again, there’s nothing wrong with -and this just came to my mind- nothing’s wrong to criticize. That’s another thing, people forget about it. That’s why this is America, you can like the products, you don’t like the product. You like the movie, you don’t. But, you start criticizing as a hatred, or you say, “Yeah, it’s my way or the highway” that’s wrong. Because we all have choices, and it doesn’t matter if you are democrat, you are republican, you are green peace, you are neutral. Whatever you are, that’s what Americas about, and we forget about that.
Let me give you another example, just very quickly. Three-feet-away-football, you probably heard about it, right?
R: Mmmhmm, yes.
T: So people making fun of The Room, “Oh yeah, why these guys playing football in tuxedos” and I have news for you guys- look at some of the anchors today and national, big network people… Actually, they do play football three feet away. I rest my case. But again, this is the thing people don’t realize, they are barking up their wrong tree. But anyway-
I also want to take this opportunity to thank all the fans of The Room who are showing up at the screenings, hopefully I see you in D.C. as well. And I will say you can laugh, you can cry, you can express yourself, but please don’t hurt each other.
R: Very quick, does that economy film have a title yet?
T: Yes it does, but I can not tell you.
R: I understand. And it’s a narrative feature, not a documentary…
T: No, it’s a feature. I’m going to stay away from documentaries.
R: Well I won’t take up any more of your time. We’ve had a really good interview, and I appreciate it Tommy.
T: Thank you and any time!
So there you have it- one of the most epic interview with the man that I’ve yet seen, right here at CHUD.
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