Tommy’s Planet: The Strange World of Tommy Wiseau and “The Room”

by Gary Chapman
gchapman@lc.edu

On June 27, 2003, Tommy Wiseau released his magnum opus “The Room” to unsuspecting audiences in Los Angeles. Now, over a decade later, “The Room” has become a midnight screening-filled cult classic along the lines of “Troll 2” and “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”. The film can be described as a melodrama, but, due to the enigmatic writing and acting of Tommy’s character, comes off as a surreal comedy. This film has themes, so let us use auteur theory to examine Tommy’s world view.

First, what is auteur theory? 

Auteur theory says that the work of an artist can be used to examine the beliefs of the artist, since Wiseau wrote, directed (although it has been debated on how much) and starred, it is his work and can be used to see how he feels about certain things.

One thing that Tommy touches on is his lack of trust in people. How Johnny finds out about his fiancée cheating on him with his friends is by recording her phone calls without her consent. Tommy starts the film being too trusting of his fiancée Lisa, and then he starts being suspicious (around the time that Lisa lies about Johnny abusing her as a way to justify her affair with Mark).

Tommy does have a negative view of women; the film does seem to be a semi-autobiographical piece. Most of the female characters in the film do seem to be lying or doing something unsavory. Lisa does not love Johnny, but Claudette says, “Men and women use and abuse each other all the time; there’s nothing wrong with it. Marriage has nothing to do with love,” and, “I still think you should marry Johnny! Now, you can’t live on love. You need financial security. “

Greg Sestero wrote in “The Disaster Artist” that during the nine-month period of when “The Room” was written, Tommy was suicidal.

Sestero wrote, “Tommy’s life study of human interaction had been put into a Final Draft blender and sprinkled with the darkness of whatever he’d been living through over the last nine months. The one thing Tommy’s script wasn’t about, despite its characters’ claims? Love……The happy news was that whatever Tommy had been running from, he’d managed to turn and face it down in his script. Instead of killing himself, he wrote himself out of danger. He did this by making his character [Johnny] the one spotless human being amid chaos, lies and infidelity.”

One of the things that I believe Tommy was running from was his age. For the longest time, Tommy was very secretive about his life and said that he lived in France long ago and then  moved to New Orleans. His IMDB listed that he was born on Oct. 3rd, 1955 in Poznan, Poland. The original ending was going to be more absurd than what you see in the finished product, with Johnny being a vampire and having a flying Mercedes. You could say that Tommy is obsessed, maybe because of his roots or because he wants to be young.

In conclusion, “The Room” is a comedy of errors with a very interesting backstory (read and watch “The Disaster Artist”– it is a good book and movie) and the film shows the very bizarre ideals of Tommy Wiseau. 

 

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