Originally released in 2003, The Room has become a phenomenon. The independent film has gained a rabid cult following, with Rocky Horror-style midnight screenings at which fans quote lines and act out scenes—including Saturday's special screening at Cinema 21, which hopefully will be the first of several.
With its interminable sex scenes and abandoned plot threads, some could say The Room is a "bad" movie, but this raises the question of what makes a movie "good." Is it a comprehensible script? Believable acting? Sets that don't look like they're going to topple over at any second? The Room contains none of these elements, yet that hardly detracts from its remarkably high entertainment value. In fact, The Room may have you questioning the reasons you've ever enjoyed anything in your life—as well as serving as incontrovertible proof that making a movie is very, very difficult.
I was a little nervous to speak with The Room's mysterious writer/producer/director/star Tommy Wiseau. But on the phone, Wiseau was remarkably candid—no, I didn't find out where he got the six million dollars to make The Room, nor where his bewildering accent came from, but he was enthusiastic about The Room and upcoming projects.
MERCURY: There are fans in Portland who have only seen The Room on DVD, but you recommend seeing it more than once in the theater. Is there something important about sharing the experience with a large group of people?
TOMMY WISEAU: The reason I say to see it at least two or three times, even four times, is because there is so many obstacle. If you be honest, objectively speaking, there's no way in the world you can grasp all this stuff. And I don't care how good you are, how intelligent you are. You may have a diploma from Oxford.... I will argue with you [that] there's no way in the world you can see all the obstacle and then fully analyze the movie.
What other filmmakers are you inspired by?
I inspire myself every day of my existence. But my creativity is connecting to the creativity of Tennessee Williams, Orson Welles, Hitchcock, and others, because we are on the same page.
Is there one project in particular you've always wanted to do?
Actually yes, but I cannot tell you, I'm sorry, man. The reason for it is because you will print and you may actually... um, okay, lemme tell you this way. I give you little hint. It's related to Batman. Okay? And I rest my case....
Since you're a nice guy I'll give you another clue. You're from Portland, you guys are very nice people. It's related to one of the actors who just passed away, and I think I give you enough clue. So actually, I did little scene on the Comic-Con. I don't know if you're familiar with San Diego?
We have really great reception there! I did this scene, actually, with two Batmans. I played the character, and again, I don't want to say it. You do the research.
For a complete transcript of our email and telephone interviews with Tommy Wiseau, go here.