Capone's wacky Windy City weekend with Wiseau, creator of THE ROOM!!!
Published at: April 12, 2010, 10:13 a.m. CST by Capone
Hey everyone. Capone in Chicago here.
In mid-February of this year, I got what I believed would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to spend the better part of 30 hours with a man who is a living, breathing enigma of the highest order. Tommy Wiseau is not just a mystery because people don't know where he comes from or how old he is or how the hell he was able to self-finance his feature debut, THE ROOM, which has played steadily in one city or several for seven or eight years. In Chicago, the film regularly plays to packed midnight houses at the Music Box Theatre once a month, and that's just the tip of the iceberg. The cult following surrounding THE ROOM is unprecedented in many ways, and rarely has such a film taken off in such an immediate and prolonged fashion.
(Before I say another word, I need to thank Brian Andreotti and Dave Jennings from the Music Box Theatre for helping organize and execute this whole beautiful-strange thing, and making this little boy's dreams come true for two twisted evenings.)
I'll admit, I'm a latecomer to the phenomenon that is THE ROOM. I was introduced to the movie by Paul Rudd, who was one of the movie's early celebrity endorsers (a list that includes many comics, including Patton Oswalt and David Cross). He could teach a class on the film, and often does in an impromptu manner when the film comes up in conversation. According to Rudd's I LOVE YOU, MAN director, John Hamburg, "I've been in Paul's bedroom, and he has a little nightstand next to his bed, and the only thing on that nightstand is a DVD of THE ROOM." And if you believe the rumors, Rudd watches the film on a scarily regular basis…as many do, whether they admit it or not. But once you've seen it that first time, how can you not? It's addictive.
I know that Rudd has entertained the thought that Wiseau's persona--both in the film and in reality--is an elaborate prank, one that would make the late Andy Kaufman say, "Wow, that guy is fucking intense in his commitment to staying in character." But I feel with complete confidence that Wiseau if the genuine article. He believes in his heart of heart that THE ROOM represents something universally artistic, something that speaks to each and every one of us on the subjects of love, betrayal, hate, loyalty, commitment, friendship, crime, and whatever the hell else you want to toss in there. No one believes THE ROOM contains these messages more than Wiseau, and not surprisingly, he's the ultimately pitchman for his brilliantly inept film.
But you can't really get to know the essence of Tommy Wiseau unless you've seen him interact with his adoring fans, and I say that with all sincerity. The level of devotion his admirers thrust upon him must be seen to be believed. When Wiseau made his February appearances at three showings of THE ROOM spread out over two Friday and one Saturday screenings, the frenetic crowd in line lost its collective shit when he arrived (late) to introduce an 8pm showing of the movie and do a brief pre-show Q&A (followed by an after-screening Q&A as well).
Originally, Wiseau's appearance was meant to be just an 8pm and midnight showing on Friday night, but the crush for tickets sold out those shows so fast, they added a second midnight show on Saturday. I moderated the early Friday appearance and the Saturday one as well. But the truly nerve-wracked part of the weekend was an interview I'd scheduled with Wiseau for Saturday afternoon. What could I ask him that hadn't been asked dozens of times before? I was determined to get beyond questions about throwing a football from 6 feet away or any of the other countless inquiries that THE ROOM inspires.
But the crowd's reaction to Wiseau in the flesh explains more about what drives the filmmaker/writer/producer/actor. There were authentic tears of joy from women when they first spotted him coming in the door of the theatre, as he walked the line that extended further than any line I've seen coming out of that venue. And Wiseau shook hands, posed for photos, signed anything (often plastic spoons), and was as friendly and receptive as any guest I've seen at any event anywhere. The reaction and adoration from fans fuels him. People would hand him their phones to say hi to friends miles away who couldn't be there. Fans drove in from Canada, as well as states that didn't actually touch Illinois. The frenzy bordered on the maniacal, and Wiseau didn't do a damn thing to subdue the insanity. He stepped out onto the freezing, snow-covered sidewalk outside the theater to toss a football around with the crowd. It felt like a carnival had erupted outside this beautiful venue, and the more love the fans showed him, the more excited and happy he Tommy became.
When I first heard that Wiseau was coming to Chicago from the Music Box staff, I volunteered my services without hesitation. The late show on Friday was handled by Steve Heisler, a writer for The Onion's A.V. Club (I believe he supplied the video clip above), who had interviewed Wiseau less than a year earlier. Wiseau insisted on both of us sending us our questions first, a common practice for anyone interviewing him. He also wanted to talk to both Steve and I on the phone separately. I called Tommy shortly after Steve did, and immediately the Wiseau I've known and loved for years through his film and a series of bizarre interviews came shining through on the phone. Since my real first name is Steve as well, he asked if it would be alright if he called me "Steve 2." To be given such a carefully thought out nickname be Wiseau was such an honor, I couldn't say no.
And while we worked on a strategy for the evening's proceeding (most of which he ignored, of course), he made mention of the fact that between the two Friday shows at the Music Box (accounting for about 1,400 ticketholders), this would be the most number of people to see THE ROOM in a single day--not at a single show, mind you, but the most in one day. I bring this up for a reason you'll understand in a minute. So the plan seemed set, with the added bonus of having dinner with Wiseau, Steve 1, and several Music Box staffers while the 8pm show was running.
I've hosted events and done Q&As at the Music Box a few times before, and it's always so much fun, since the venue has such fantastic programming and attracts great crowds, but THE ROOM screenings were a different kind of disease altogether. I had prepared introductory remarks that I tossed aside almost immediately, as it became clear that getting Wiseau on stage immediately was the order of the day. However, I did manage to squeak out the fact that Wiseau had laid on me earlier about these two shows resulting in the most that had seen the movie in one day. When he got on stage, well, this is what happened:
The dude actually corrected me on a fact he fed me. Ah, Tommy Wiseau, your mystery deepens.
Dinner was an event unto itself, with Wiseau attempting to order things that were off menu, but seeming to enjoy everything that was brought to the table at a nearby tapas restaurant. It's strange that Steve 1 and I had the same reaction to dinner--we don't really remember it. The event is a weird memory blur of sitting across from (in my case) or next to (in Steve 1's case) this man and really getting our first prolonged look at him, giving us a chance to study the jet black stringiness of his hair or the shine reflected in the lines of his face. I also began to notice certain catch phrases he'd fall back on or use incorrectly, in particular "I rest my case." When most people use that phrase, they have just completed a list of reasons that something is something. But Wiseau uses it to mean "And there you have it" or "I have nothing more to say on the subject" even if he's said very little. In retrospect, I wish I'd turned his use of that particular phrase into a drinking game.
Since most of the Music Box staff was busy with a full-house of moviegoers, I took it upon myself to sort of plant myself near Tommy between the two showing while autographs were being signed and photos taken at an area by the merchandise table. Without really meaning to, I became a crowd wrangler and personal assistant to Wiseau for both nights at the theater. I left the Music Box late and tired, and prepared to do it all over again the following day, with an interview thrown in.
The second day seemed a little more sane and organized, at least as far as my schedule with Wiseau was concerned. Tommy arrived early enough to the theater that night to take care of nearly all of the autographs and photos before the movie, so that we could all get out of there as soon as the movie was done.
As for the interview, I arrived at the hotel in time to watch the previous interviewers wrap up more or less on time. Tommy wanted to grab a bite to eat, so we retreated to the relatively quiet cafe in the hotel's ground floor, where Tommy had the exact salad he'd been trying to order at the tapas place the previous night. As I mentioned before, I really did want to attempt to do an interview with Wiseau that went beyond simply retreading one weird moment after another in THE ROOM. I wanted to get into that fabulous brain of his and see what was doing in there. I'd sent my questions a few days earlier, but I strayed from them as often as I stuck to the script. I was actually supposed to interview Wiseau at Comic-Con last year, but we couldn't get our schedules to align for it to happen. I was supremely bummed out at the time, but in the end I'm glad it didn't work out, because I wouldn't have gotten nearly the amount of time that I did in Chicago.
And it was during this interview that I felt I got the real Tommy Wiseau. Strange, yes, but also a genuinely good man, who wants very much to continue working in movies, TV, and theater. If you indicate to him in any way that you have a connection to a producer or studio or anyone that might help him achieve his career goals, you'll become his new best friend. Beyond that, he's immensely proud of THE ROOM, and good or bad, he made the movie he set out to make. This is his vision, and no amount of playful teasing is going to take that away from him.
For those of you still with me, I hope you glean something new from my talk with Tommy. He's a fascinating creature that the world may never truly understand, and maybe it's best that way. But I had a great, life-changing weekend in his presence, and I hope you all get a chance to spend even an iota of time with him at some point in your lives. It's worth the effort, and I think he'll be back in Chicago again. Still, there's nothing like the first time, and I'll certainly never forget my first. Enjoy Tommy Wiseau, and please keep in mind that all grammatical mistakes and nonsensical statements are 100 percent intentional and accurate from this point forward.
Capone: I just wanted to talk to you about your relationship with your fans, because obviously it’s a very close relationship. When you get in front of a crowd that size, does it add something to your life that you can’t get anywhere else?
Tommy Wiseau: That’s a good a question. Yeah. Each time is different, but I would say ironically it’s almost the same thing, because for some reason I don’t have an answer for it, to be honest with you. For the most part, everyone is very respectful… Of course some people go overboard.
Capone: They’re the one’s that aren’t.
TW: Yeah, but long story short, I like what’s happening with the fans in a subtle connection, I would say.
Capone: They have really brought this movie to life in a lot of ways and kept it going for so long.
TW: Oh absolutely I agree with that one. It's Because of the fans… We wouldn’t have what we have today without them.
Capone: I’ve heard you say before that the real purpose of making the film is to get a reaction, whatever that reaction might be.
Capone: Sometimes that can be a dangerous thing. Have you been pleased with the reactions to THE ROOM?
TW: When you talk about the U.S.A. media, I'm sorry to tell you that straightforward, they have a tendency to exaggerate with people writing about rumors not even based on any facts if you ask me, and they go on these sort of assumptions. I say, go to see THE ROOM and watch the fans, you know, but sometimes people do that and are assuming reading somebody else’s article rather than saying “Let’s just see exactly what’s happening here.”
Capone: What are some of the misconceptions do you think about the film and about you?
TW: Well first of all, I was working on THE ROOM for 12 years. That’s number one. You cannot view the way people’s thinking, directing, producing, and acting. You need a certain system, and my system was at the time we shot on both [35mm and digital] cameras, but at the same time we did it do save time. Another misconception is about production, you see, choices of using green screen and the footage for example. I mean you can go on and on. You see all that is shot in San Francisco is original footage [I think what he's saying here is that none of the San Fran footage used as background on some of the rooftop sequences was stock footage; he shot it all]. It’s not like I’m borrowing from somebody, because you can do that. As you know, some people can use shots from somebody else. Everything in this is original, from the soundtrack to whatever you see. You can chop it in pieces, and you will still get at the same answer.
Capone: You have said when people ask you about your inspiration, you say, “Nothing inspired this.”
TW: It’s nothing inspired me, except you see I have a great respect for Tennessee Williams for example and Orson Welles and James Dean and even Elizabeth Taylor. Why? Because they accomplished something dealing with human beings, with us, with people, relationships, and sacrifice, etc., etc. This is very difficult to accomplish. You may ask yourself “How many movies do we see in our lives?” It’s just a movie, you know, but now comes THE ROOM, and people don’t want to see it, but then they say, “Wait a minute, I want to see it anyway.” So this is the thing, like “Why should I see it?” I don’t ask or beg people to love the movie. I say “See it, if you can.” But we do have the sort of fans following it, and it’s growing more and more and I’m thrilled by that. And a lot of people ask the same questions, and I say “The more the better.” I can have 1 million people, and I will come onto anybody, let me tell you.
Capone: It’s interesting, most first time filmmakers world not attempt to tackle something this emotionally heavy for their first time out.
TW: It’s very heavy, thank you! I commend you. You probably already know how I am a little bit, so yeah it’s good. Continue. I'm listening.
Capone: What made you think to go for something so emotional the first time out? It must have just been a story that you had to tell. The emotions had to get out some how, and you made it into this film.
TW: First of all, I’m a very emotional person. You know me. I could be very quiet, too.
Capone: Please don’t be.
TW: Oh, don’t be? [laughs] Okay. That’s a good question, because people don’t ask this question, but this is great because I like it actually.
Capone: I’ve thought about this movie, I really have.
TW: You know, emotion is no accident. You have to gamble with it. It’s the same, like I always say, “If you expressed yourself on the street, would you get into trouble, or would you go to see THE ROOM?” I know this is a stupid comparison, but you might also ask yourself “Do I, as a director or producer, my choice is to talk about bit issues like drugs in one sentence. Do I have to drill?” To me, that’s an insult to audiences. That’s my take and people have different takes, but my take is “Wait a minute, we wrote so much about that stuff already. We already know about it that this is bad and this is good, but what if you just have a flavor of it and you create a certain ambience and say ‘Wait a minute, I want to find out more about it,' and that’s why in THE ROOM you have a lot of symbolism.
With that of course, symbolism as a collective understanding, but also subjective. You need to be careful with this, because it’s subjective, but also it’s neutral. I always say “The simple way to present and the simplicity that’s a virtue of success, but this means that a simpler subject an issue is, the much more difficult it is to present it.” You may use fancy words, but guess what, you can’t accomplish that, because it’s like “Okay, this is great. This is perfect. Your sentences are not quirky,” but guess what? I guarantee you, you will not. Not always. You may. I don’t say you could not, but I say it's unlikely you will.
Capone: You started out wanting to be an actor, right?
Capone: You talked a little bit about some directors and some writers that you like, but what about actors? Who are some of your favorite actors?
TW: I like actors… domestic or…?
TW: Well Clint Eastwood is pretty good, you know. I always treat actors as… You know, you don’t have bad actors. Sometimes with THE ROOM, people will say, “Why did you pick all of these bad actors?” I will say, “What is your definition of bad?” Fortunately, people ask me during the Q&A about the girls, “Can you do something with the girls, who are actually much more beautiful than on the screen?” My answer is very simple “You don’t have bad girls.” My question is “How do you define this?” “What is bad and what is good?” This is the grey area; I can work with anybody. I like challenges. Your questions are good, very good. Better than before. I like this; keep going.
Capone: People say that about the acting choices, but every actor has a flaw with something in their performance.
TW: Thanks you. Yeah, but at the same time you may say that there’s nothing wrong with that, but if you look at the details, then you will be extremely difficult for everyone, I don’t care who you are. If you are honest with yourself. That’s where the grey area is.
Capone: People treat THE ROOM like it’s some sort of a strange journey, but actually it sounds like in the casting and the production, you followed more or less the Hollywood way of making movies.
TW: Well, thank you very much! My god! You are talking my words. Yes.
Capone: I’ve read the interviews and I want to make sure what I’m reading is right.
TW: Some of the reading is right, but some is incorrect. But continue, I'm sorry.
Capone: Your casting was pretty standard as you just cast like you would any movie.
TW: We did it in the backstage west and everything is there.
Capone: And the green screen you said you did that like any other Hollywood movie would. Do you like having this independent authority over your film, or at some point would you like to work for a studio?
TW: Let me tell you, at this time I do like it, but at the beginning I did not like it. You know why?
TW: I didn’t realize. A lot of filmmakers and producers, well actors too, they all say “Yes, I want freedom.” See, I didn’t realize people have such tempers, or I didn’t realize at the time when we shot THE ROOM. I changed THE ROOM crew four times, for example, not three times, but four times, okay?
Capone: Changed the crew?
TW: Yes. Some decided to have a temper. Some people got fired, because of words. Remember, we used two different cameras and that was a constant. So, I appreciate my freedom now, but before I didn’t think about this. I said, “I want to produce.” Lucky me, because I did not have to submit it to people, like with the script to the big studios and say “Okay, can you help us?” I knew that people would not produce this, to be honest with you, especially with my take, because my take is slightly different.
Capone: You didn’t think you could get a typical producer to sign up for this?
TW: No, especially a big studio, but when we submitted it to the Academy Awards, I did submit it to distribution and one of the big studios started to… You probably would guess very easily, it started with “P” and is one of the biggest studios in Hollywood. They saw THE ROOM and they said “Thank you, Mr. Wiseau, we’ll see what will happen.” Then we started screening the room and everything started.
Capone: You also marketed the film initially like on big billboards. Everyone I know in L.A has seen that billboard, but somehow the marketing grew in very unusual ways through word of mouth, and celebrities found it and saw it in Los Angeles and talked about it. That’s how I found out about it, from Paul Rudd actually who told me about it.
TW: He's a big fan, I know. Great.
Capone: What do you think about the celebrities catching onto it and spreading the word in their own unusual way. That’s not publicity you can buy.
TW: I love it. By the way Kristen Bell, when she was on Jimmy Kimmel, she actually promoted THE ROOM, and I didn’t even know about it. You can actually go to theroomfansite.com and they have a lot of information, because they have tried to put everything together. Yeah, theroomfansite.com. They have a funny name, but that clip is there. I’m thrilled about it, you know. They like it.
Capone: What do you think of the film being referred to as a “cult hit”? What does that mean to you?
TW: I have no comment on that. It doesn’t mean anything, except I want people to see THE ROOM and have fun with it basically. I’m not comparing it to any other movies like people do as you probably know, but for me that’s secondary.
Capone: If people are just seeing the movie, that’s what matters.
TW: That’s exactly right.
Capone: I heard the other Steve last night start to ask you this question, and I don’t think he quite got it out. It seems very funny to me that in your first film as an actor, as well as a director, you got pretty bold with the nude scenes. And people seem to react a lot to those scenes in the screenings. Is that kind of strange to see that? I should say "love scenes," not nude scenes. Did you think twice about maybe not doing that?
TW: Actually I did think several times. One time I was driving… I don’t know if you know, but they release a James Dean movie about his life. Long story short, that was a few years ago and I was driving in Fairfax in Hollywood, and I was debating “Is Johnny supposed to be naked or not? How far can Johnny go?” and I say to myself “I’m sorry, you have to do the roles.” Again, you have to divide directing, acting, producing, and line producing. If you want to do all of these tasks, you have to divide it in a certain category and you have to think like this part of whatever position you have, so I was talking to myself to brainstorm and I was like “You know what? If I had James Dean here, he would say 'Johnny has to be naked or partially naked.'” Say “love scene” or “sex scene” or whatever you call it… I call it “love scene,” of course, how far can you go? What could be the different approach that people have certain reactions.
For me, the reaction is in chemistry. That’s the key and I always say, “The more colors you have, the better it is.” For example, the colors in an environment with the detail work, you see? So with THE ROOM, you have a lot of symbolism about a lot of different stuff, and it's the audience’s job is to actually discover themselves within THE ROOM, if I may say that, and that’s what makes me happy, because in the past two years I notice that’s what a lot of people are talking about. Actually they are talking about more script than technical aspect. They talk about “What’s the relationship?” “What is Johnny about?” You can go on and on, and you know what? To me, I don’t think it will ever be boring, because you can always find something you know? There are tiny little things and again you cannot create these by accident, so yeah I would always ask myself “What is behind the words?”
I studied acting at Stella Adler and one of my teachers Jean Shelton, I don’t know if you are familiar with her, but she is one of the best teachers. She’s now 80 years old or something like that, and she actually started directing stuff. She would stress things like the imagination and actually opened for me what acting is about, and you have to actually be open for certain situations and certain environments, and let me tell you, during the love scenes, it’s truly difficult. Let’s say in this case we call “Closed set,” as you probably know, but guess what? If you are using two cameras, even the minimum crew, we have dozens of people there. We couldn’t say, “Wait a minute, we will try our best, that’s it.” And then I said “Let’s just go for it, and you see what you see.”
Capone: The other thing that you seem to emphasize in the film is Johnny is an athlete. He is playing football. He is jogging. Why was that important just to know that about him?
TW: This is again another good question, because you see the jogging… Let’s look at the history between 1900 and 1910, we did not have a lot of jogging in Golden Gate Park. It was owned by a private individual and then donated to the city, long story short, but the fact also is that we didn’t have that. Jogging and doing exercise was beneficial for us for survival, if you really think about it. I don’t care how you cut it. Of course, everyone has their limitations, including myself. Some people are good at swimming and some people are good with a basketball. Some people are good at throwing a football three feet away.
Capone: Last night, out in front of the theater…
TW: How did you like that?
Capone: It was great.
TW: You should have taken some pictures.
Capone: If I had known that was going to happen, I would have brought my camera.
TW: This is the stuff I do, you see, sometimes I do crazy stuff, and it all depends on the audience. Today will be the same thing, so we will see what we will see. My thing is to just relax and I can relax with my fans. By the way, I commend you for this one, because that’s a good one. I don’t think any person has asked me the same question about what you just asked about the audience and I being on the same page.
Capone: When you did take a break from the autograph signing to go outside, I thought that you knew there was a big line out there and you wanted to be part of that for a little while to just interact with those people. That’s great. I think that’s what you enjoy the most.
TW: What that's what I like, because you see that’s what relaxes me. I can do that 24/7.
Capone: You mentioned on the phone yesterday and I don’t know if this is something you can talk about, but you…
TW: You can ask anything. We have no rules, so it’s up to you to ask what you want.
Capone: You mentioned that you had a meeting with MTV.
TW: Oh yeah, we did.
Capone: That actually seems like a good match.
TW: We are actually doing a project, and I’m telling you this, because you are a nice guy. They asked me this same question earlier, and I said “I’m sorry, but I don’t want to talk about this.” But I can give you general statements, but yeah we are working on a certain project. They have approved it already. We will be shooting, and I will not be directing for your information, but we have actually two projects you see, so I don’t know which one will be first and then I also have the vampire movies and the "The Neighbors." I was just making fun of everybody yesterday, because it’s true that they want one episode of "The Neighbors" and I’m not happy with that. Since you already know how it works, I cannot produce one… It takes a lot from me. On a scale from 1 to 10 it’s not so much, because we would be using only one stage with "The Neighbors."
Capone: The pilot…
TW: Yeah, where we shot 22 minutes and you can go to theneighborssitcom.com and you can see the trailers.
Capone: I’ve seen the trailer, yeah.
TW: We have an actual website too with the synopsis. So next question.
Capone: With your vampire films, what is your take on the vampire legend?
TW: The vampire to me is eternity will spoil your life and I don’t care who you are. Sometimes we go very deeply in it, but I think it… It’s not a myth, but you may say it is a myth. My take is slightly different. You see, I like a certain style. A certain style just doesn’t cut it for me and I’m sorry to say that. Look at some of what other people shoot and I mean I rest my case about that. My take, generally speaking, is on a level that we connect indirectly, because of destiny. We want to still life, like you want to prolong your life. I was actually reading about certain people predicting, because of technology today, we will be living 140 years or more, based on what we can do for us with what we eat and medical replacements etcetera, and we are going this direction.
Capone: That’s probably true.
TW: That’s speaking about THE ROOM, and when we talk about cancer and let me give you an example, on purpose I said, “Wait a minute…” I studied psychology and still do, and I did certain things with the patients as well, and a lot of people don’t like to talk about this stuff. Some people will say, “Be sorry for me,” but the majority will say “Leave me alone. I have my own life.” The bottom line is we do have technology, and I am very convinced by it. We are working and we will have a great result for it. That’s my take on that.
Capone: Okay, will one of your vampire stories include a love story?
TW: Let me tell you, the love story always should be in vampire stories. I don’t know how many will be in a particular scene, but I will be one of them.
Capone: You mentioned to me yesterday about living in Chalmette, Louisiana. Were you in Louisiana for a long time, or was that just a step to get into California?
TW: No, my uncle lives there. I have an entire family there. That’s also a misconception with the media, because they think… I used to live in France, so the accent is there like Cajun or whatever you would call it, but I have a… I was just recently in Austin, Texas, and it’s very connected to New Orleans believe it or not.
Capone: Well, it’s a party city.
TW: Yeah, but at the same time Chicago for example is very connected to the Bay Area. Do you ever thing about that? If you compare these two cities, Chicago is big, but the Bay Area is sort of miniature. You can also compare Chicago to New York, if you ever think about it.
Capone: Oh, I have. I’ve lived in both.
TW: So you know the feelings for it, but if you try to compare it to Los Angeles, forget that. You can’t even compare the two. There are certain charms, including Chicago. I can feel this certain vibe that is different from other cities. That’s my take on that.
Capone: When people ask you were you are from and I won’t do that…
TW: You can do whatever you want.
Capone: You said you came here from France? There’s a big connection between France and New Orleans. There’s a great deal of cultural similarity.
TW: When the French sold Louisiana, I think they made a big mistake.
Capone: You think so. Do you encourage a little bit of the mystery about you?
TW: This is no comment. I have my choice and people don’t always like my choice. That’s my answer.
Capone: Okay, you are a man of mystery, Tommy. So you have often called the film a black comedy. Initially when it first started playing, did people laughing or commenting on the film in the theater, did that ever bother you at any point?
TW: No. You know what, I will always say… You have to understand me a little. Let me give you a little history about my life and about acting. When I take any workshop on acting--I did dozens of them, from good to bad--I always get a reaction with people. I have no idea why, so to me it’s better if people are clapping… Sometimes you have a workshop with a scene and that’s unusual, so I say it’s fine with me, and I’m so used to this to be honest with you. I try not to be self-centered, but you asked the question, and with people laughing, for me as a director, I want the reaction.
With audiences, my take on this is you can’t restrict them. You cannot put forth a formula and say, “You have to do this.” You have to let them do whatever they want to do, but what I am concerned is that I want a sincere reaction. You guys, generally speaking, as the media sometimes, especially with THE ROOM, I think the way the sentence is is not right. You can say you don’t like it or certain stuff, but at the same time. I would say the nice way “Be nice, Tommy” I would think to myself. Give credit where the credit is due, but at the same time think twice, because nothing happens by accident, especially when you are dealing with 300 people on the set like one time when I had 300, you have to physically and mentally coordinate in a certain way. It’s the same thing like with the audience yesterday. You saw it. Somebody asked me this yesterday or whatever, and it’s not a question of doing, it’s a question of adjusting. But at the same time you have to have respect. It’s very nice to see somebody named “Steve” helping and watching some people named “Steve 2” and I would say, “Thank you very much,” because it’s helpful, but you see people don’t see it. “I didn’t do anything.” “No, you did something you see?”
It is was it is and especially when dealing with a hundred of them and in this case 1,000 or close to 1,500 or whatever it was, it’s difficult. It’s not an easy job, because you have be a certain way and have to understand that they have a different take, and you have to respect that. At the same time you have to say “Wait a minute, we had to be covered too. Don’t jump at my face.” If somebody hurts me, I try not to hurt back, but at the same time I have my certain take and that’s how I am. You can check THE ROOM like ABC with showing certain clips, you see I’m trying to talk and they don’t let me talk and they apologize and say, “Tommy, we did not have time.” I say, “That’s okay. No problem, maybe next time.” That’s what the story is.
I just want to point out to you that this is the misconception, either the newspaper or magazine starting with an “E…” I will not name it. I try to stay away from naming who wrote the article, but they spent so much time, but some of the facts just aren’t there. Give me a break; I’m 100 years old? Okay, thank you very much.
Capone: They said you were 100 years old? [Laughs]
TW: No, but what they said is incorrect. Some of it is laughable to be honest.
Capone: How much time did you spend talking to them?
TW: No, they spent hours.
Capone: Talking to you?
Capone: Oh, okay.
TW: We had met five or six different… They would show up… I could write a book about them actually.
Capone: Has any actor or director attempted to cast you in one of their films strictly as an actor?
TW: Like I said, we have right now something with MTV going.
Capone: That would just be with you as an actor, though?
TW: Yeah, with me as an actor and then "Tim and Eric," I was an actor, but they put “As directed by Tommy,” but actually I’m acting. This is again where they put me in a spot and I say, “It’s whatever you guys want to do.” I’m just in as an actor, because they told me what to do. I always want to say my five cents sometimes and sometimes I get in trouble. Let me give you a little quirky story just for you, because I need to say this today. I’ve taken a lot of acting classes and I always get into trouble, because I always have a portable camera with me, and I say to the teacher “Can I film my scene? Just my scene?” “Okay, no problem” or “We cannot do this.” I say “What about one time?” and I stretch it. You know how one time turns to two times and…” Some of the actors are like “We are so intimidated by the camera” and I say “Wait a minute, you will be around cameras for the rest of your life, if you want to be an actor.”
Capone: “You’d better get over that.”
TW: Exactly, but you see this is the thing with the acting, it is what it is. It’s not an easy job.
Capone: So what do you think the next thing we will see you in will be? What will be THE ROOM's successor?”
TW: I will give you just a little prediction that in six to eight months you will see something that you wouldn’t expect, and this thing is related, not to vampires, but a big issue in America, and that’s what I’m doing right now.
Capone: This isn’t the homeless documentary?
TW: No, but thank you for asking. No, it’s not the homeless, but it relates on a similar topic…
Capone: Because you have already made that.
TW: I’m working on something too that will be very… I would say “unusual,” but will relate to a lot of people. I will say, probably millions of people, more than THE ROOM. I don’t know what it will be called, but it will be something topical and very important.
Capone: Interesting. Okay, well great. Thank you so much. I'll see you tonight.
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