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Tommy Wiseau

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Tommy Wiseau
Wiseau in 2015
Occupation Actor, director, producer, screenwriter
Years active 2003–present

Tommy Wiseau (/wɪˈz/) is a director, screenwriter, producer, and actor. He is best known for The Room (2003), which has been described by many critics 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 2015 sitcom The Neighbors.[2][3]

Personal 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 intimated to him—admittedly through "fantastical, sad, self-contradictory stories"[9]—that he grew up somewhere in communist Eastern Europe, and as a young adult moved to Strasbourg, where he adopted the name Pierre and worked as a restaurant dishwasher;[10] he subsequently moved to San Francisco, where he worked as a street vendor selling toys to tourists near Fisherman's Wharf.[11] 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".[11] 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.[12] 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.[13] In the same book, however, Sestero admits that the idea of Wiseau becoming wealthy so quickly via the jobs Wiseau claims to have had is so unlikely that he himself finds it impossible to believe,[14] and though he never makes his own beliefs clear, does on several occasions suggest that many people involved with the creation of The Room held the earnest belief that the film itself was part of a money-laundering scheme for an organized crime syndicate of some order.[15]

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.[16] 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.[17] 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.[18]

Wiseau's influences include James Dean, Marlon Brando, Tennessee Williams,[19] Orson Welles, Elizabeth Taylor, and Alfred Hitchcock.[20]

In interviews following the release of The Room, Wiseau gave an age which puts his birth date in 1968 or 1969.[21] 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 born "much earlier" than he claimed,[22] and that he was born in the 1950s somewhere in the Eastern Bloc.[9] Some researchers have put forth that Wiseau may very likely have been from Poland based on documents found regarding his family's ancestry.[23]


Wiseau in 2010


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.[24] The movie was immediately lambasted by critics,[25] 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.[26]

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.[27][28]

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.[19][24][29] 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,[30] 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.[31]

In the upcoming film adaptation of The Disaster Artist, James Franco is set to portray Wiseau. Franco also won a Golden Globe for playing James Dean in 2001. Wiseau approved of the choice as well as Dave Franco playing Disaster Artist author/friend Greg Sestero. [32]

In March 2015, Tommy claimed in a reddit "ask me anything" thread that he had commenced work on a new project named "the foreclosure".[33]


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 2015, stated that the show is coming to various media distribution outlets in March of 2015.[34]

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,[19] Tim and Eric announced in 2009 that they were developing two series for Wiseau.[35]

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. Wiseau kicked Wooton off set after Wooton jokingly alluded to using production funds to buy instant lotto tickets.


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.[36] Wiseau has also starred in segments on called The Tommy Wi-Show. The segments show Wiseau playing various video games, such as Mortal Kombat, Driver: San Francisco, and offering commentary.[37][38][39]


Year Title Director Producer Writer Actor Role Notes
2003 The Room Yes Yes Yes Yes Johnny
2004 Homeless in America Yes Yes Yes Yes Himself Interviewer
2009 Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! Yes Himself Episode: "Tommy"
2010 The House That Drips Blood on Alex Yes Alex and Mysterious Stranger Short film
2011 Bump Yes Rick Short film
2011 Tommy Explains it All Yes Himself Web series
2011–2012 The Tommy Wi-Show Yes T. W. Web series
2014-2015 The Neighbors Yes Yes Yes Yes Charlie and Ricky Rick Web TV series
2015 Samurai Cop 2: Deadly Vengeance Yes Linton

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Work Award Category Result
2004 Homeless in America New York International Independent Film and Video Festival Best Social Documentary (L.A. Festival) Won
2004 The Room New York International Independent Film and Video Festival Audience Award – Feature (Miami Festival) Won
2010 Himself Harvard's Ivory Tower (Harvard Undergraduate Television) Filmmaker of the Year Filmmaker of the Year Won



  1. ^ Collis, Clark (2008-12-30). "'The Room': Worst movie ever? Don't tell that to its suddenly in-demand star.". Retrieved 23 November 2009. 
  2. ^ The StarPhoenix article: "Shlocking encounter: Notoriously bad cult film spawns curious collective contempt[dead link]."
  3. ^ The Portland Mercury article: "Tommy Wiseau: The Complete Interview(s)"
  4. ^ Collis, Clark (2008-12-12). "The Crazy Cult of 'The Room'". Retrieved 2013-10-30. 
  5. ^ "Interview: Tommy Wiseau « Terminal Laughter". 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 Sestero & Bissell 2013, p. 192.
  10. ^ Sestero & Bissell 2013, pp. 192–194, 200–203.
  11. ^ a b Sestero & Bissell 2013, pp. 244–245.
  12. ^ "A Redditor sleuth has unraveled the mystery of Tommy Wiseau's nationality". The A.V. Club. 2014-01-20. Retrieved 2014-02-08. 
  13. ^ Sestero & Bissell 2013, pp. 246–250.
  14. ^ Sestero & Bissell 2013, p. 246.
  15. ^ Sestero & Bissell 2013, pp. 100, 160.
  16. ^ Sestero & Bissell 2013, pp. 200–203, 207–208.
  17. ^ Sestero & Bissell 2013, p. 59.
  18. ^ Sestero & Bissell 2013, p. 179.
  19. ^ a b c "Josh Rubenoff: Interview of Tommy Wiseau". Retrieved 2013-06-24. 
  20. ^ Sloan, Will (Apr 27, 2011). "The Varsity Interview: Tommy Wiseau". The Varsity. Retrieved 2015-01-08. 
  21. ^ "Interview with Tommy Wiseau, actor/writer/director/producer of The Room | Cinetology". 2010-02-16. Retrieved 2012-12-19. 
  22. ^ Sestero & Bissell 2013, p. 258.
  23. ^ Modell, Josh (2014-01-20). "A Redditor sleuth has unraveled the mystery of Tommy Wiseau's nationality · Newswire · The A.V. Club". Retrieved 2014-08-25. 
  24. ^ a b Knegt, Peter. "Tommy Wiseau Goes Legit". IndieWire. Retrieved 8 August 2012. 
  25. ^ Entertainment Weekly "The Crazy Cult That is the Room"
  26. ^ "The Room Official Movie Site". Retrieved March 12, 2011. 
  27. ^ "SD Comic-Con 2010: Teaser Trailer: Tommy Wiseau's The House that Dripped Blood on Alex". 2010-07-14. Retrieved 2010-09-15. 
  28. ^ "Get Ready For The Comic-Con Premiere Of Tommy Wiseau In The House That Drips Blood On Alex | The Atom Blog". 2010-06-23. Retrieved 2010-09-15. [dead link]
  29. ^ The A.V. Club article: "Interview: Tommy Wiseau"
  30. ^ Sestero & Bissell 2013, pp. 84–87.
  31. ^ Sestero & Bissell 2013, pp. 126, 129–130.
  32. ^ Clark Collis (2015-01-18). "Dave Franco to star in James Franco's movie about 'The Room'". Entertainment Weekly. 
  33. ^
  34. ^ "The Neighbors official site". 2014-08-04. Retrieved 2014-08-04. 
  35. ^ "Wired article". "Wired article". 2009-10-19. Retrieved 2010-09-15. 
  36. ^ "Episode 2: How Do You Know When You're In Love". "TommyExplainsItAll". 2011-06-01. Retrieved 2011-11-20. 
  37. ^ "The Tommy Wi-Show Ep. 1: Mortal Kombat (Machinima)". "". 2011-09-24. Retrieved 2011-09-25. 
  38. ^ "The Tommy Wi-Show is a video game show with Tommy Wiseau". "Joystiq". 2011-09-14. Retrieved 2011-09-25. 
  39. ^ "The Tommy Wi-Show Ep. 5: Driver: San Francisco (Machinima)". 2011-09-24. Retrieved 2014-10-06. 


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