Tommy Wiseau

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Tommy Wiseau
Wiseau in a promotional image for The Room
CitizenshipUnited States
Occupation(s)Actor, filmmaker
Years active2003–present
Known for Edit this at Wikidata

Thomas Pierre Wiseau (/wɪˈz/ wiz-OH[1] or /ˈwz/ WY-zoh;[2] born Tomasz Wieczorkiewicz[3]) is a Polish-American actor and filmmaker. He is known for writing, producing, directing, and starring in the 2003 film The Room, which has been described by many critics as one of the worst films ever made and has gained cult status.[4] He also co-directed the 2004 documentary Homeless in America and created the 2015 sitcom The Neighbors.[5][6]

Many details about Wiseau's personal life (including his age, source of wealth, and background) remain unverified, and as such have been the subject of intense fan speculation and various conflicting reports.[7] The 2013 non-fiction book The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made by Greg Sestero, as well as its 2017 film adaptation, chronicle the making of The Room and Wiseau's life behind the scenes.


An undated headshot of Wiseau[8]

Wiseau is very secretive about his early life.[7] In various interviews, he has claimed to have lived in France "a long time ago";[9] claimed he grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana;[10][11] and described having "an entire family" in Chalmette, Louisiana.[12] In a 2010 interview with Crikey, Wiseau gave an age which would indicate he was born in 1968 or 1969,[13] but friend Greg Sestero claims in his 2013 memoir The Disaster Artist that his brother's girlfriend obtained copies of Wiseau's U.S. immigration papers and found that Wiseau was born "much earlier" than he claimed,[14] in an Eastern Bloc country in the mid- to late-1950s.[15]

In his 2016 documentary Room Full of Spoons, Rick Harper, a longtime associate of Wiseau, claims to have researched Wiseau's background and concluded that he is Polish and originally from the city of Poznań,[16] and that he was born in 1955.[17] Wiseau confirmed publicly for the first time, in November 2017, that he is originally from Europe: "Long story short, I grew up in Europe a long time ago, but I'm American and very proud of it."[18][19]

In The Disaster Artist, Sestero asserts that Wiseau revealed to him—through "fantastical, sad, self-contradictory stories"—that as a young adult he moved to Strasbourg, France, where he adopted the name "Pierre" and worked as a restaurant dishwasher.[20] According to Sestero, Wiseau described being wrongfully arrested following a drug raid at a hostel and being traumatised by his mistreatment by the French police, which led him to emigrate to the U.S. to purportedly live with an aunt and uncle in Chalmette.[21] These claims have not been verified.

Sestero (the only source Wiseau is alleged to have told this to) asserts that after Wiseau had lived in Louisiana for some amount of time, he subsequently moved to San Francisco, California, where he worked as a street vendor selling toys to tourists near Fisherman's Wharf. Wiseau supposedly gained the nickname "The Birdman" for his bird toys, which were only popular in Europe at the time; this led him to legally change his name when he became a U.S. citizen to Thomas Pierre Wiseau, taking the French word for "bird" (oiseau) and replacing the O with the W of his birth name.[22]

Around this time, Wiseau also claims to have obtained a degree in psychology from Laney Community College in Oakland,[23][24] asserting that he had graduated on the honor roll.[25]

According to Sestero, Wiseau claims to have worked a variety of jobs in the San Francisco Bay Area, including restaurant busboy and hospital worker, and ran a business called Street Fashions USA[26] at Fisherman's Wharf, employing comedian Aaron Barrett,[27] and selling irregular blue jeans at discounted prices. He then claims to have eventually purchased and rented out large retail spaces in and around San Francisco[28] and Los Angeles,[29] making him independently wealthy. Sestero states that the idea of Wiseau becoming wealthy so quickly via the jobs he claims to have had is so unlikely that he himself finds it impossible to believe.[30] Sestero suggests on several occasions that many people involved with the creation of The Room believed the film to be part of some money laundering scheme for organized crime, but Sestero himself considers this unlikely.[31]

Wiseau claims to have been 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.[32] Sestero suggests 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.[33]



Influences and early work

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.[34][35][36] 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,[37] 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.[38] Wiseau also cites his cinematic influences as including Tennessee Williams,[34] Orson Welles, Elizabeth Taylor, and Alfred Hitchcock.[39]

Sestero notes that the actor had been "trying to bust in" to Hollywood since the late 1980s,[40] and recounts being shown an undated VHS tape of Wiseau in Vincent Chase's acting class (with whom Wiseau had a contentious relationship).[41] He was apparently enrolled in Chase's program around 1994.[40] Wiseau also allegedly attended film classes at Los Angeles Community College.[40]

During this time, Wiseau directed a student film, Robbery Doesn't Pay, shot with a super 8 camera in the Westwood section of Los Angeles.[42] The film, which does not star Wiseau, has been described by Sestero as "just a dude walking around looking at cars to the 'Blue Monday' by Orgy [cover]."[40]

The Room

Wiseau's film The Room was released in 2003. Its budget was $6 million, the financing of which has remained a source of intrigue. The film was based on an unpublished 540-page novel written by Wiseau himself.[35] The movie was immediately lambasted by critics,[7] but ultimately became a "cult classic" with late-night showings at theaters around the world.

Audience members typically arrive dressed up to look like their favorite characters, interact with the dialogue on screen, and throw plastic cutlery and footballs around the theater in reference to on-screen events. 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 appeared at many of these events, posing for photographs with fans and often addressing the audience before screenings.[43]

In the 2017 film adaptation of Greg Sestero's autobiography The Disaster Artist, James Franco portrays Wiseau, for which he won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy. Wiseau approved of the choice, as well as that of Dave Franco as Sestero.[44] Wiseau makes a cameo appearance in a post-credits scene as Henry.[45][46]

Later film projects (2004–present)

Wiseau at a showing of The Disaster Artist in 2017

In 2004, Wiseau produced and appeared in a short documentary, Homeless in America.[47] In 2010 he starred in a 15-minute parody horror film entitled The House That Drips Blood on Alex.[48]

In September 2015, Wiseau expressed enthusiasm in directing a sequel to Fantastic Four (2015), having personal admiration for the film.[49]

He was featured as the villain Linton Kitano in Samurai Cop 2: Deadly Vengeance, the sequel to the cult classic Samurai Cop. In October 2016, it was announced that Wiseau and Sestero would star in a movie called Best F(r)iends. The movie was written by Sestero and was shot in secret in Los Angeles.[50] The film premiered September 4, 2017 at the Prince Charles Cinema. The first volume of the film was released on March 30, 2017, and volume two was released on June 1 of that same year.

In early February 2019, before a screening of The Room at the Prince Charles Cinema, Wiseau revealed a teaser trailer for his second directorial effort, Big Shark.[51] The trailer features Wiseau, Sestero, Isaiah LaBorde, and a big shark. In a Q&A session afterwards, Sestero said the film was intended to premiere in September 2019,[52] but could not be finished on time.[53] Big Shark had its world premiere on April 2, 2023 at Cinema 21 in Portland, Oregon.[54][55] Wiseau will also star alongside Greg Sestero in an upcoming UFO film.[56]


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 was coming to various media distribution outlets in March 2015.[57] The first four episodes were released on Hulu on March 14, 2015. Two additional episodes were released two months later, on May 26.

In 2009, Wiseau guest-starred in an episode of Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! titled "Tommy", wherein Wiseau guest-directed a segment titled "Pigman". After Wiseau expressed a desire to work with the duo again,[34] Tim and Eric announced in 2009 that they were developing two series for him.[58]

In 2010, Wiseau appeared in Marc Wootton's 2010 comedy TV series La La Land. In a mockumentary format, Wootton's character, Gary Garner, accepted a role in Wiseau's present production at the time. Wiseau kicked Wootton off the set after Wootton jokingly alluded to using production funds to buy instant lotto tickets.[citation needed]


In 2011, Wiseau starred in a YouTube web series, Tommy Explains it All, in which he explained his views on various topics ranging from Citizen Kane to the art of kissing.[59] Also in 2011, Wiseau starred in segments on called The Tommy Wi-Show. The segments show Wiseau playing various video games, such as Mortal Kombat and Driver: San Francisco, and offering commentary.[60][61][62] In 2019, Wiseau starred in the pilot for an animated webseries titled SpaceWorld.[63] An advertisement for 1Password released in January 2024 features Wiseau.[64]

Personal life

Wiseau remains private about the details of his personal and family life. In 2017, he told Entertainment Weekly, "I think private life should be private life, the professional life should be the professional life, and that's where I stand, and I have right [sic] to do that."[24] During a 2016 interview with James Franco, Wiseau referred to Greg Sestero as his "best friend".[40] In a December 2017 interview with Howard Stern, he claimed to speak fluent French and said he is a Catholic.[65]

In early 2020, Wiseau was ordered by a Canadian judge to pay $550,000 in lost revenue and $200,000 in punitive damages to the makers of the documentary Room Full of Spoons, after Wiseau tried to block the film's release, feeling it depicted him in a negative way.[66]



Year Title Director Writer Producer Actor Role Notes
2003 The Room Yes Yes Yes Yes Johnny Debut
2004 Homeless in America Yes Yes Yes Yes Interviewer Documentary
2010 The House That Drips Blood on Alex No No No Yes Alex Short film
2011 Bump No No No Yes Rick Short film
2015 Samurai Cop 2: Deadly Vengeance No No Executive Yes Linton Kitano
2016 Cold Moon No No No Yes Rodeo Official Cameo
2016 Enter the Samurai No No No Yes Himself
2017 The Disaster Artist No No No Yes Henry Uncredited cameo[67]
2018 Best F(r)iends No No No Yes Harvey Lewis
2023 Big Shark[68] Yes Yes Yes Yes Patrick
TBA The Room Returns! No Yes No No Post-production
TBA Untitled UFO film[56] No No No Yes Pre-production


Year Title Director Writer Producer Actor Role Notes
2009 Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! Yes No No Yes Himself / Pig Man Episode: "Tommy" (segment "Pig Man")
2010 La La Land No No No Yes Himself Episode: "1.6"
2015 The Neighbors Yes Yes Yes Yes Charlie/Ricky Rick 6 episodes
Also creator and based on his novel

Web shows

Year Title Role Notes
2011–2012 The Tommy Wi-Show Himself
2011 Tommy Explains it All Himself
2016 Bee and PuppyCat Boss (voice) Episode: "Donut"[69]
2018 Nerdist Presents Joker Video: "Tommy Wiseau's The Dark Knight"[70]
Video: "Tommy Wiseau's Joker Audition Tape"[71]
2019 SpaceWorld TX (voice)

Music videos

Year Title Artist
2018 "Role Models" The Armed
2018 "Scary Love" The Neighbourhood

Awards and nominations

Year Work Award Category Result Ref.
2004 Homeless in America New York International Independent Film and Video Festival Best Social Documentary (L.A. Festival) Won
The Room New York International Independent Film and Video Festival Audience Award – Feature (Miami Festival) Won [72]
2010 Harvard's Ivory Tower (Harvard Undergraduate Television) Filmmaker of the Year Won [72]

See also


  1. ^ "Tommy Wiseau Film School". YouTube. March 9, 2018. Archived from the original on November 17, 2021.
  2. ^ "INTERNET SLUMBER PARTY WITH W. Kamau Bell LIVE". YouTube. August 22, 2012. Archived from the original on December 15, 2021.
  3. ^ Jasinska, Joanna. "Polish revelation: man behind "greatest bad movie ever made" turns out to be from Poznań". Retrieved August 1, 2023.
  4. ^ Collis, Clark (December 30, 2008). "'The Room': Worst movie ever? Don't tell that to its suddenly in-demand star". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved November 23, 2009.
  5. ^ "Shlocking encounter". Archived from the original on March 30, 2014. Retrieved June 1, 2017.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  6. ^ Tommy Wiseau: The Complete Interview(s), The Portland Mercury; accessed June 1, 2017.
  7. ^ a b c Collis, Clark (December 12, 2008). "The Crazy Cult of 'The Room'". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved October 30, 2013.
  8. ^ undated headshot of Wiseau
  9. ^ "Is 'The Room' the worst movie of all time?". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. August 7, 2009.
  10. ^ "Interview: Tommy Wiseau « Terminal Laughter". Archived from the original on April 22, 2010. Retrieved July 18, 2009.
  11. ^ Maddux, Rachael (May 8, 2012). "Trapped in The Room with Tommy Wiseau". CL Atlanta. Retrieved January 3, 2013.
  12. ^ "Capone's wacky Windy City weekend with Wiseau, creator of THE ROOM!!!". Ain't It Cool News. April 12, 2010. Retrieved January 20, 2013.
  13. ^ "Interview with Tommy Wiseau, actor/writer/director/producer of The Room | Cinetology". February 16, 2010. Archived from the original on August 29, 2012. Retrieved December 19, 2012.
  14. ^ Sestero & Bissell 2013, p. 258.
  15. ^ Sestero & Bissell 2013, p. 192.
  16. ^ Van Lullng, Todd (January 29, 2016). "The Irresistible Mystery Of Tommy Wiseau". Huffington Post. Retrieved August 3, 2016.
  17. ^ Ritman, Alex (July 3, 2017). "'The Room' Doc Maker on Falling Out With Tommy Wiseau: "The Most Interesting Person After Michael Jackson"". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 20, 2022.
  18. ^ Romano, Nick (November 30, 2017). "The Room mastermind Tommy Wiseau actually opened up about his secret origins". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved December 5, 2017.
  19. ^ Lyall, Sarah (November 29, 2017). "When Your Movie Is a Hit for All the Wrong Reasons". The New York Times. Retrieved December 5, 2017.
  20. ^ Sestero & Bissell 2013, pp. 192–94, 200–03.
  21. ^ Sestero & Bissell 2013, pp. 200–03, 207–08.
  22. ^ Sestero & Bissell 2013, pp. 244–45.
  23. ^ Bramesco, Charles (November 22, 2017). "Everything We Definitely Know About The Room's Tommy Wiseau". Vulture. Retrieved December 22, 2017.
  24. ^ a b "A vintage interview with 'The Room' creator Tommy Wiseau: 'Believe in what you believe'". Entertainment Weekly. November 28, 2017. Archived from the original on December 23, 2017. Retrieved December 22, 2017.
  25. ^ Jagannathan, Meera (October 7, 2017). "Tommy Wiseau Bio – Things to Know About Tommy Wiseau". Esquire. Retrieved December 22, 2017.
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^ Doug Walker (July 10, 2014). "Shut Up and Talk: Greg Sestero". youtube. Retrieved August 10, 2023. Doug Walker interviews the man who played Mark in 'The Room,' Greg Sestero.
  29. ^ "Street Fashions USA". Better Business Bureau® Profile. Retrieved August 10, 2023.
  30. ^ Sestero & Bissell 2013, pp. 246–50.
  31. ^ Sestero & Bissell 2013, pp. 100, 160.
  32. ^ Sestero & Bissell 2013, p. 59.
  33. ^ Sestero & Bissell 2013, p. 179.
  34. ^ a b c "Josh Rubenoff: Interview of Tommy Wiseau". Retrieved June 24, 2013.
  35. ^ a b Knegt, Peter (June 9, 2011). "Tommy Wiseau Goes Legit". IndieWire. Retrieved August 8, 2012.
  36. ^ Interview: Tommy Wiseau, The A.V. Club; accessed June 1, 2017.
  37. ^ Sestero & Bissell 2013, pp. 84–87.
  38. ^ Sestero & Bissell 2013, pp. 126–30.
  39. ^ Sloan, Will (April 27, 2011). "The Varsity Interview: Tommy Wiseau". The Varsity. Retrieved January 8, 2015.
  40. ^ a b c d e "James Franco Interviews the Men Behind the worst film ever made". V Magazine. April 12, 2016. Archived from the original on January 6, 2018. Retrieved December 22, 2017.
  41. ^ Sestero & Bissell 2013, p. 57–58.
  42. ^ Sestero & Bissell 2013, pp. 57, 84–85.
  43. ^ "The Room Official Movie Site". Retrieved March 12, 2011.
  44. ^ Clark Collis (January 18, 2015). "Dave Franco to star in James Franco's movie about 'The Room'". Entertainment Weekly.
  45. ^ Chitwood, Adam (March 22, 2016). "'The Disaster Artist': James Franco Reveals Tommy Wiseau Has a Contractually Obligated Cameo". Complex Media. Retrieved December 21, 2016.
  46. ^ Wagmaster, Elizabeth (January 17, 2016). "'Freaks and Geeks' Reboot? Judd Apatow Teases 'Anything Can Happen'". Variety. Retrieved February 2, 2016.
  47. ^ "Homeless in America (2004)". IMDb. August 19, 2004.
  48. ^ "SD Comic-Con 2010: Teaser Trailer: Tommy Wiseau's The House that Dripped Blood on Alex". July 14, 2010. Retrieved September 15, 2010.
  49. ^ Katzman, Gregg (September 10, 2015). "Fantastic Four 2: Tommy Wiseau Wants to Direct". Screen Rant. Retrieved March 30, 2019.
  50. ^ Rebecca Ford (October 12, 2016). "'The Room' Director Tommy Wiseau and Star Greg Sestero Reunite for New Movie (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter.
  51. ^ A, Arthur (February 5, 2019). ""Big Shark": Neuer Film vom "The Room"-Macher Tommy Wiseau kommt!". Filmfutter (in German). Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  52. ^ "Big Shark Teaser Leaks: Tommy Wiseau Battles a Great White". MovieWeb. February 5, 2019. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  53. ^ Prince Charles Cinema [@ThePCCLondon] (September 11, 2019). "No release date yet. Tommy is still working on it" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  54. ^ "Big Shark w/ Tommy Wiseau Live (pre-premiere)". Archived from the original on April 1, 2023. Retrieved April 1, 2023.
  55. ^ Murphy, J. Kim (March 23, 2023). "Tommy Wiseau Unveils His Follow-Up Film to 'The Room' With 'Big Shark' Trailer (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved April 1, 2023.
  56. ^ a b Gelmini, David (October 28, 2020). "Exclusive FrightFest Interview: Greg Sestero Talks CYST". Dread Central. Retrieved October 29, 2020.
  57. ^ "The Neighbors official site". Retrieved August 4, 2014.
  58. ^ "Wired article". October 19, 2009. Retrieved September 15, 2010.
  59. ^ "Episode 2: How Do You Know When You're In Love". Youtube. June 1, 2011. Retrieved November 20, 2011.
  60. ^ "The Tommy Wi-Show Ep. 1: Mortal Kombat (Machinima)". September 24, 2011. Archived from the original on September 27, 2011. Retrieved September 25, 2011.
  61. ^ "The Tommy Wi-Show is a video game show with Tommy Wiseau". Joystiq. September 14, 2011. Retrieved September 25, 2011.
  62. ^ "The Tommy Wi-Show Ep. 5: Driver: San Francisco". September 24, 2011. Archived from the original on October 29, 2011. Retrieved October 6, 2014.
  63. ^ Barsanti, Sam (June 30, 2019). "Tommy Wiseau and Greg Sestero are intergalactic bounty hunters in the animated pilot SpaceWorld". The A.V. Club.
  64. ^ Nudd, Tim (January 30, 2024). "Tommy Wiseau Of Cult Film 'The Room' Warns Of Bad Actors In 1Password's New Ad". Ad Age.
  65. ^ The Howard Stern Show, December 5, 2017.
  66. ^ Maddaus, Gene (May 4, 2020). "Tommy Wiseau Ordered to Pay $700k to 'The Room' Documentary Makers". Variety. Retrieved May 6, 2020.
  67. ^ "The Disaster Artist (film)". March 22, 2016. Retrieved June 1, 2017.
  68. ^ Dick, Jeremy (April 4, 2023). "The Room Stars Reunite at Big Shark Screening: 'We're Still Best Friends'". MovieWeb. Retrieved April 6, 2023.
  69. ^ "Frederator Studios on Twitter: "You know #TommyWiseau was the voice of the boss in "Toast Dogs, Wedding Donut," right?"".
  70. ^ Nerdist Presents. "Tommy Wiseau's "The Dark Knight" (Nerdist Presents)". Nerdist's YouTube channel. Archived from the original on November 17, 2021. Retrieved September 24, 2018.
  71. ^ Nerdist Presents. "Tommy Wiseau's Joker Audition Tape (Nerdist Presents)". Nerdist's YouTube channel. Archived from the original on November 17, 2021. Retrieved September 24, 2018.
  72. ^ a b Crump, Andy (December 4, 2017). "What Happened to Tommy Wiseau After 'The Room' Became a Legendary Bomb". Retrieved May 18, 2020.

Further reading

External links

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