Literature: The Disaster Artist
This is my life.
"Haha. What a story, Mark."
—Johnny (Tommy Wiseau)
In 1998, 19 year-old Greg Sestero was yet another young man with the dream of becoming an actor. During an acting class he noticed one of his classmates, a very strange man with an undefinable accent who was clearly unsuited for acting yet didn't seem to be embarrassed by it. Very quickly, he found the man's scenes to be both painful to watch, yet highly entertaining. On a whim, Greg approached him and asked if he wanted to do a scene with him.
That man was one Thomas "Tommy" P. Wiseau, who avoided questions about his background. Little did Greg know that his life would be changed forever, both by him as well as Wiseau's later dream project, a movie named The Room
...The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made
is a non-fiction book written by Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell detailing not only the events behind the production of the So Bad, It's Good
masterpiece The Room
but also Sestero's unlikely friendship with Tommy Wiseau.
James Franco has announced that he will direct a film adaptation of the book, with Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg producing.
Now available as an audiobook
, read by Greg himself. And yes, he does a Tommy Wiseau impression.
See also My Big Break
, a comic book about Philip Haldiman's (Denny) experience.
- Affectionate Nickname: After Mark's beard is shaved, Johnny refers to him as "baby face." "Baby face" was a nickname Tommy gave to Greg, based on his youthful appearance.
- Anachronic Order: The even-numbered chapters cover Greg first meeting Tommy and their developing friendship, while the odd ones are about the production of the film five years later.
- Arbitrarily Large Bank Account: Wiseau's bank account is referred to as a "bottomless pit" by a bank teller.
- Artistic License – Film Production: In-Universe. Tommy has zero idea in how to make a film. For instance, he has Greg as his line producer, which is a very time-consuming job as a line producer is responsible for the daily operations of production that the director cannot be bothered with (such as setting up casting calls and ordering food for the crew), and has him be a lead actor.
- Believing Your Own Lies: Tommy, in spades. It's strongly hinted that Tommy wrote the quotes from reviews in all the promotional material for The Room, which are from nonexistent sources such as "Entertainment Today" and "Beverly Hills 90210" and basically say the same thing: "Tommy Wiseau is the new Tennesse [sic] Williams, a true ragin' Cajun."
- Berserk Button: Aside from the well-known prohibition against asking questions about Tommy's origins or his personal fortune, you do not leave the set while shooting, you do not steal focus in the scene, and you do not call Tommy a "pansy."
- Tommy was adamant about only using English in the movie. While shooting the 'Mark and Johnny play catch' scene Greg said 'catch this' in French and Tommy lost his cool and tackled him saying 'No French dammit!'. Fridge Brilliance kicks in when you realize that's probably why Lisa is Johnny's 'future-wife' in the movie and not his fiancée.
- Big Eater: Tommy. According to Greg, Tommy eats a full Thanksgiving dinner every day in November.
- Break the Cutie: Greg, Juliette, and a lot of the people working on the film.
- Averted with Carolyn Minnott, who handled a fainting spell/liability issue (due to Wiseau's refusal to pay for a functioning air conditioner) with little fuss.
- Blatant Lies: The book opens with Tommy lying his way into someone else's restaurant reservation, a taste of things to come. Most notably, he lies about looking into getting a generator for the set, and director of photography Graham Futerfas directly and publicly calls him out for it, resigns, and takes half the crew with him.
- Throughout the early years of their friendship, Tommy repeatedly reassured Greg that "he was not [his] competition," despite his obvious envy of Greg's fledgling career.
- But Thou Must: Every attempt to change Tommy's mind about a course of action is met with some variation of "I disagree with that" until the speaker gives up arguing in frustration (or quits the production altogether).
- Can't Take Criticism: Tommy Wiseau, as Greg, Jean Shelton, Sandy Schklair, or any of his former two crews can tell you.
- Cassandra Truth: The script supervisor, Sandy Schklair, to the new director of photography: "People don't believe the stories I tell about this experience."
- Cerebus Retcon: Parts of The Room seem less funny once you read the stories behind it. For instance, the reason Peter was blinking so much and touching things during one of his scenes was because the actor had banged his head on the set and was acting with a concussion.
- Also, while jokes about Juliette Danielle's looks were already un-called for, they look even worse now that it was discovered that Wiseau was looking for an impossibly beautiful girl and given his attitude towards women that he intentionally did things that were setting her (or anyone else that would play Lisa) up for failure. She only stayed through Wiseau's cruel treatment of her because she was supporting her family.
- On the other hand, other scenes become much funnier. Knowing that "It's not true, it's bullshit, I did not hit her, I did naaaaaat...Oh hai Mark," took 3 hours makes it somehow more hilarious.
- Some scenes became more baffling as well. In the same scene as the above point, Mark mentions a woman who was hospitalized because her boyfriend beat her up. Tommy wouldn't stop laughing at this line as he said "What a story, Mark!" Despite all attempts from the cast and crew in telling him that domestic abuse was anything but funny, Tommy seemed completely uncomprehending of why he shouldn't laugh.
- Closest Thing We Got: How the third director of photography, Todd Barron, got the job. He was a cameraman who was one of the few people who didn't walk out with the second director. He just asked for the job, and got it.
- Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Wiseau, of course.
- Cool Old Lady: Iris Burton, Greg's agent. The woman landed an acting contract for a fetus.
- Corpsing: A behind-the-scenes version. In addition to the aforementioned "giggle tent", Juliette Danielle (amongst others) kept laughing at Wiseau over the infamous "You are tearing me apart, Lisa!" scene due to blown-after-blown take. It got so bad that crew members had to turn away just to hide their faces. Despite him being very touchy and a perfectionist (he even railed on a crew member for farting), he didn't seem to notice their behavior.
- Crazy Jealous Guy: Wiseau does not respond well to Sestero having other friends.
- Critical Research Failure: Despite being a film buff, Wiseau gets basic things about his favorite films wrong. He put the "You're tearing me apart!" line in The Room as an homage to Rebel Without a Cause, but he wrote the line as "You're taking me apart".
- Wiseau named Greg's character after the lead actor in The Talented Mr Ripley: "Mark Damon."
- Not to mention he aspired for Lisa to be absolutely irresistable to men, like "Angelika Jolie."
- The night before production began, Wiseau remarked that Greg's beard made him look like Spartacus. In the Kubrick film, Spartacus doesn't have a beard.
- Dawson Casting: Turns out Philip Haldiman was one of the oldest members of the cast, and was playing the youngest character.
- Dead All Along: Greg reveals that Drew Caffrey, one of the credited executive producers, had been dead for several years prior to filming.
- Deconstruction: Of the mythos surrounding the film. You don't make a movie as hilariously bad as The Room without pissing off, and/or ripping off, a lot of decent actors and crew.
- The Determinator is also deconstructed, as the book is a reflection on how empowering, and dangerous, unconditional belief in one's own dreams and talent is, despite evidence to the contrary.
- Despair Event Horizon: Tommy falls over one of these late in the book. On his third concentrated effort to become an actor, he enrolls in an acting class, oblivious to how strained his relationship with Greg has become. One day, Greg goes to pick him up from the class, and finds Tommy by himself against a wall; presumably, he finally realized what people think of his acting. He disappears the next day for several months, leaving suicidal messages on Greg's answering machine. When he finally returns and finishes the screenplay for The Room, Greg carefully examines it, trying to find any clue to where he was and what happened to him.
- Determinator: Juliette Danielle.
"Juliette was put into a terrible, unfair situation, and all things considered, I think she handled it well. She’s not given nearly enough credit for that. Juliette was set up to fail, and most people in her position would have quit. But Juliette never quit. When Tommy threw a water bottle at the original Michelle, the whole cast walked out. Juliette, though, was disconsolate; she wept. She cared about the movie more than anyone. In the end, Juliette was cast as Lisa because she was the only actress capable of surviving the meat-grinding torture of Tommy’s casting process. For Juliette, serial humiliation became just another obstacle to smash through."
- Carolyn Minnott (who played Claudette) as well; she had put off an acting career in order to raise a family and The Room was one of the only parts she could get. Despite passing out from the heat, she went right back and nailed a scene with Juliette in a matter of minutes, in sharp contrast to Tommy, who would take hours to walk down two steps.
- Driven by Envy: As Sestero achieves modest successes in acting, Wiseau tries to copy him. He talks of going to the same acting school Sestero did, moving to L.A. where Sestero was, and he gets a SAG card by making a commercial that rips off Sestero's demo reel. Also he told Sestero at several points to not be jealous/don't be jealous of something he said or done that seemed impressive, which spoke volumes about his own jealousy.
- Fridge Brilliance kicks in when you realize that Sestero was finding success by being himself (wearing shorts to the interview with the Agent he eventually got, getting a part based on his ability to do a French accent) whereas Tommy was and is constantly running from who he is and was failing to find success.
- Drives Like Crazy: Tommy drives so carefully (constantly going at least 20 mph under the speed limit, and slamming on his brakes the second he sees another car in a parking lot, no matter how far away) that it warps back around to this. Plus, he doesn't know how to use windshield wipers. He claims to have been in two near-fatal car accidents, which is probably the cause, though Greg doubts how true they are.
- Dude, Not Funny!: This was Sestero and Sandy's reaction to the "What a story, Mark" scene where Wiseau chuckles at a story in which a woman gets hospitalized. Sandy eventually took Tommy aside and told him that a story like that is not funny and should not garner a humorous reaction. Every single subsequent take had Tommy say the line in a Creepy Monotone, which led to them using the original laughing take as it was the lesser of two evils.
- Dye Hard: Wiseau, whose natural haircolor is actually chestnut brown. Sestero discovers this firsthand after moving into Wiseau's L.A. apartment and seeing a copious amount of black hair dye stains all over his bathroom.
- Eagle Land: Tommy is a firm believer in Flavor 1. Might spill into Immigrant Patriotism if his backstory set forth by Greg is true.
- Epic Fail: Tommy Wiseau wrote the film...and he repeatedly asked for his lines from his own script.
- It took three hours and thirty-two takes to get the "Oh, hi Mark" shot.
- Really the entire film production is one Epic Fail after another. Tommy routinely makes production decisions that defy not only basic film production procedures, but basic logic.
- Tommy submits his film to Paramount, hoping to get them as the distributor. While Greg notes it usually takes about two weeks to get a reply, the film is rejected within twenty-four hours.
- "Tennessee Williams" is misspelled in both review quotes, which are hinted to have been written by Tommy, despite him being a huge fan of Williams.
- Epigraph: Each chapter starts with quotes from Sunset Boulevard and The Talented Mr Ripley.
- Establishing Character Moment: The book opens with Sestero and Tommy eating at a high-end restaurant where Tommy believes he has no right to wait in line for a reservation. A couple of girls invite them over for some flirty conversation, and after Sestero plays along and has a good time, Tommy snaps at them, driving them away by implying they don't do anything but drink. Later, Tommy conspires to drive out the other actor playing Mark so that he can have Sestero in the role like he's always dreamed. He doesn't get much better as the book goes on.
- Fanboy: If it pertains to James Dean or Marlon Brando or Tennessee Williams, Tommy is all over it (to varying degrees of success).
"Of course [Tommy] loves Brando and Dean, I thought. They're captivating actors because they know exactly when to yell, when to floor it. Tommy believed you had to floor it for the duration of every scene."
- Fan Disservice: Wiseau: "I have to show my ass or this movie won't sell."
- Foreshadowing: Greg refers to his family as the collective Patient Zero of The Room. Their reaction to a rough cut of the film was just a taste of what audiences around the world would go through for years to come.
- Forgetful Jones: Tommy's difficulty remembering his own script is bad enough, but then you find out he keeps a card with his LA apartment's security code because he always forgets it: 1-2-3-4.
- For Science!: Wiseau invented a set-up that allowed him to film The Room on an HD camera and on 35mm film simultaneously. The only reason he gave for this is that he wanted to be the first to do it. Wiseau would later return to this line of thinking for The Room's Blu-ray release, which have a "Combination Languages" feature, allowing the viewer to watch the film with subtitles in multiple languages.
- Ultimately, none of the footage filmed by the HD camera ended up in the final cut.
- Freudian Excuse: If Sestero's account of Tommy's life is true (which he doubts), then Tommy's had a really lousy life.
- This is the backstory of Tommy that Greg tells in the latter half of the book: Tommy (going by some unpronounceable name beginning with T) was born in some town in a communist country of Eastern Europe. He eventually wanted to go to America, developing an obsession with America, until finally he managed to get to France with his cousin (who was later deported and shipped back behind the Iron Curtain). After a traumatizing experience with Alsace-Lorraine policemen, he finally managed to make it to New Orleans, where he lived with his uncle. Unsatisfied with his life there, he moved to San Francisco, and had an experience with a woman which potentially served as inspiration for the Johnny/Lisa relationship in The Room.
- Giftedly Bad: Tommy, in spades. On more than one occasion, Greg expresses genuine admiration for Tommy's ability to keep pushing forward despite completely lacking any knowledge and talent in the realm of filmmaking.
- Hidden Depths: Tommy. He's rude, manipulative, jealous, and childish (hell, he throws a tantrum when being caught in a lie about a badly-needed generator). However, Sestero spends time discussing how Tommy was genuinely passionate and driven despite having no talent, and how he has a nice and supportive side to him. Gradually, Sestero also finds out how lonely and melancholy Tommy really is, culminating in a VERY startling phone message that Sestero (probably accurately) takes to be a suicide note, not that anything happens. Not to mention the backstory for Tommy that may or may not be fake.
- High Hopes, Zero Talent: Tommy Wiseau is a man with big dreams that he sadly lacks the talent to achieve. His inability to take criticism certainly doesn't help.
- Hope Spot: In Chapter 14 "Highway of Hell," Tommy and Greg's friendship hits rock bottom, with Tommy consuming every square inch of the apartment as his "writing corner" and blaming Greg for the apartment becoming an overall pigsty (well, more-so than usual, thanks to Tommy's nonexistent housekeeping abilities). Greg promises himself that as soon as he finds his own place, he'll just disappear from Tommy's life. Then, he finally gets a job at the Armani Exchange and Tommy starts attending an acting class, claiming he's making friends. Soon afterwards, Greg agrees to be a subletter at a house that's right across from Tommy's apartment. In addition, he finally gets a look at Tommy's driver's license, which gives his age at about thirty, and Greg starts to wonder if maybe he has been in the wrong this whole time. Then he goes to pick up Tommy from his class, finding him standing far from the rest of the class, a sign he has finally been resoundingly defeated...
- Horrible Hollywood: Well, maybe not horrible, but Greg nonetheless has a hard-enough time just trying to find an agent willing to give him a chance.
- Ignored Expert: Everyone on set. Nearly the entire original crew were veteran or experienced filmmakers, and Tommy would summarily reject any advice they gave him. Kyle Vogt even tried to bring up that legally, Greg could not be filmed until they signed a contract, but Tommy replied "I hire you as actor, smart guy! Act!" Ironic, as, according to Greg, Kyle had previously worked for NASA at the Jet Propulsion Lab.
- Especially when it came time to edit the film together. The editor Eric Chase tried to convince Tommy that certain scenes needed to go as they slowed the film or didn't make sense. However, Tommy kept insisting to keep in everything. Because of this, everything that was shot, with the exception of the original Chris-R scene, Johnny's suicide taking place in the living room, and what was shot with the HD camera, is in the film.
- Impossibly Tacky Clothes: The movie had some hits and some misses as far as the wardrobe goes. One of the most memorable fashion missteps is the hideous outfit Tommy is wearing during the infamous "I Did Not Hit Her!" rooftop scene. Sadly enough, to the costume designer's credit, not only was she working with a very limited budget and was forced to go to thrift shops (while Tommy was willing to buy expensive cameras he ended up not even using), turns out, the director picked this outfit to wear in the scene himself while said designer was out running an errand...and he refused to change.
- What makes this example funnier (or more infuriating) is that the costume designer was doing her errands while banking on the fact that Wiseau was habitually three to four hours late. Only when he found out about her absence was Wiseau compelled to get ready for the scene.
- I Never Said It Was Poison: Tommy asks Greg at one point if he's ever seen a million dollars in cash. Greg asks Tommy where he has seen this million dollars in cash, and immediately, Tommy gets defensive.
- Insane Troll Logic: Tommy partially runs on this. When filming Mark and Lisa's first conversation over the phone, Mark is in a car. Tommy refused to use his own Benz because of "license plate issues." Greg reminded him that the shot would be a tight close-up of him, with the license plates nowhere in sight, but to no avail.
- Insistent Terminology: Beyond "Future Wife", Tommy also refers to money as "Candy", refers to his scalp as a "nest" and sees goofing off as "Mickey Mouse Stuff."
- Inter Generational Friendship: Greg and Tommy.
- It Will Never Catch On: Early in his involvement, Greg convinced himself that The Room would never see the light of day. The script was so nonsensical that it needed a complete rewrite and Tommy was completely inexperienced in just about everything related to moviemaking. However, Greg was forced to change his tune when he learned that the only way he would be paid the...substantial...amount of money Tommy was promising him was if the film did see the light of day.
- It's All About Me: The sensible way to cover Tommy's multiple roles in production would be to credit him with "Written, Produced, and Directed by Tommy Wiseau." Instead, he insisted on being credited for each one individually, thus resulting in "Executive Producer: Tommy Wiseau," "Written by Tommy Wiseau," "Produced by Tommy Wiseau," and "Directed by Tommy Wiseau."
- Jerkass: Tommy Wiseau is this for the most part.
- Jerkass Woobie: Especially as his attempts to get into acting crash and burn.
- Lack of Empathy: Wiseau, in spades, especially when harried or sullen. This culminates in him dictating a new scene for the movie directly inspired by Greg's break-up with his girlfriend...mere hours after said break-up occurred.
- Laser-Guided Karma: In the book, we learn that Wiseau threw a water bottle at the original Michelle just because she dared to ask for some water to drink on a hot day. Well, one will be hard-pressed to find any fans who think this clip isn't hilarious or justifying.
- Leave the Camera Running: An off-screen example. Wiseau hired an extra cameraman to film everything happening on the lot, ostensibly for the inevitable making-of documentary. Instead, he used it as a way to spy on his own production.
- Living in a Furniture Store: Literally invoked with the living room set. Turns out the furniture was purchased from a thrift store display window and Tommy insisted to keep it exactly as it was, which is why the living room does not look like it would be inhabited. Sandy Schklair offered his own house to use for the living room set, but Tommy refused as he "didn't want Sandy seizing control of the film."
- Loophole Abuse: Greg tells Tommy he can get a SAG card by being in a commercial. Tommy responds to this by writing, producing, directing, and starring in a commercial for a company he owns.
- Made Myself Sad: Wiseau really gets angry at the "What planet are you on?" line, even though he wrote it.
- Makes Just as Much Sense in Context: Sestero provides background for some of the oddest parts of The Room, only to reveal that the oddities and mistakes were present, or even worse, in the original script. For example, Johnny humping Lisa's red dress wasn't just some weird ad-lib. The script actually called for Johnny to hump Lisa's clothes before offing himself.
- In his Reddit AMA, Sestero was asked where some of the "plot twists" (Claudette having breast cancer, Lisa pretending to be pregnant) were supposed to go in the original script. He replied that Wiseau never intended the twists to go anywhere (and wouldn't justify them past "That's the twist!") and he's just as confused as everyone else was.
- Mama Bear: Greg's French-Sicilian mother. You do not get into an argument with her, and turns out she is totally right about Tommy.
- Manic Pixie Dream Guy: Wiseau of all people. Perfectly exemplified when he signs Sestero up for the Bay to Breakers run without the latter's knowledge and drags him there with no clue as to where he's going and despite having explicitly told him that he would be extremely tired that morning.
- Mean Boss: Wiseau. His actions and attitude towards the cast and crew of The Room ranged from rude and unprofessional to borderline abusive. On the first day of filming, Tommy and Greg showed up to the set several hours late.note Tommy's first act was to bark orders at the production crew, saying they were too slow and being unprofessional. Again, this was the first day.
- Mean Character, Nice Actor: Although Lisa and her mother Claudette are real pieces of work, the actresses who play them (Juliette Danielle and Carolyn Minnott) are shown to be very kind, down-to-earth people.
- Method Acting: Dan Janjigian (Chris-R) takes this approach to his role.
- Money, Dear Boy: The main reason Greg agrees to play Mark. Justified in that Greg really needs the money, and Tommy offered him a lot.
- Mood Whiplash: Pretty much every single part detailing Tommy's childhood (at least what Wiseau claims his childhood was like).
- Mundane Wish: The ulterior purpose of the alley ("Me underwears") scene, where Tommy can at last be a young man palling around with friends.
- Multiple-Choice Past: Tommy tells Greg different, often contradicting stories about his early life. He's especially vague on how he became so wealthy.
- My Beloved Smother: Greg's mother did not approve of his wanting to be an actor, and even wrecked the first connection he made with an agency by picking up the phone when they called him back and yelling at them. She also tells Tommy, completely seriously, not to have sex with Greg.
- My Way or the Highway: Tommy's overarching modus operandi, both on and off the job.
- Naïve Newcomer: Graham Futerfas. A director of photography fresh out of film school, he is ecstatic when Tommy hires him to work on a feature film. Then Sandy takes him aside and starts talking about all the crazy stuff with the film.
- Narm: In-universe. Many of the crew members had to conceal their laughter about what they were witnessing. Even the cameraman began to laugh so hard the camera would shake during takes. The first DP even had his own tent where he would laugh out of sight, while ostensibly watching the footage.
- Never My Fault: Due to his inability to take criticism or advice, Wiseau tends to blame everybody else for his errors and unprofessionalism. At one point in their shared time in the Los Angeles apartment, Tommy accuses Greg of hogging space and leaving a big mess. Need it be said that Tommy's "writing corner" had expanded to include every square inch of the apartment (excluding Greg's room); and that Wiseau is not exactly the tidiest person in the world, nor is he very attentive to food's expiration dates.
- No Social Skills: Wiseau. When he disappears from the apartment, Greg finds a collage of the two of them, realizing that their friendship was the most human relationship Tommy had in years.
- No, You: Wiseau's only defense when called out on his lack of professionalism.
- Odd Friendship: The entire book is based on Wiseau and Sestero's friendship.
- One-Hour Work Week: Much like his screen counterpart, Tommy is rarely seen working in any capacity. Whatever he does, though, it's paid for a Mercedes, copious acting classes, commutes to Los Angeles, premier real estate for Street Fashions locations, and production on The Room, among other things.
- One Steve Limit: The actor originally cast as Mark was named Dan, but Tommy always called him "Don." While never explicitly stated, it's easy to surmise that this was because Chris-R's actor was also named Dan.
- Only Friend: Greg to Tommy.
- Only Sane Man: Inverted. Whereas Tommy is the only nutcase in this set of sane people, it appears he views himself as this.
- Oxymoronic Being: Tommy Wiseau wants to be an actor — no, a movie star, seen and adored by millions. However, any discussion or examination of his life—personal or public—is cause for a meltdown.
- Pet the Dog: A literal example in Tommy's encounter with the "doggie". Greg says that he loves the scene because it captures Tommy's more likable, human side. Later, Tommy comforting Greg after he fails an audition he thought for sure was in the bag, telling him to never give up.
- Psychopathic Manchild: Wiseau acts very much like a child throughout the book. One example is how he pretty much threw temper tantrums to get his way.
- Prima Donna Director: Wiseau, unsurprisingly.
- Pursue the Dream Job: Wiseau wants to be a movie star, and made at least three concentrated efforts at achieving that goal before making The Room. Greg himself had a hard-enough time just trying to get his foot in the door.
- Reality Is Unrealistic: Wiseau asked if "Doggy" was a real dog.
- Though it's been claimed that Johnny's phone recorder setup couldn't work in real life, Sestero reveals that Tommy actually uses that same recorder to tape every phone conversation he has.
- Rebuilt Set: Wiseau had the alley set rebuilt so he could film the football/Mike falling down scene, a move which took two days, cost thousands, and added nothing to the movie. This also happened with the rooftop set, which Tommy wanted rebuilt for the "We're expecting!" subplot.
- Rich in Dollars, Poor in Sense: Everyone is consistently baffled by Tommy's seemingly endless wealth despite his complete lack of common sense, let alone budgetary skills. To wit, Wiseau purchased half a million dollars worth of film equipment (a move not even most major studios would make), including his infamous side-by-side HD and 35mm film cameras yet has caused his second DP to resign because the former wouldn't rent a badly needed generator for $200 a day.
- Greg recounts a story when he and Tommy were shopping, and Tommy saw a pair of roller blades and wanted to buy four pairs. He then tried to haggle with the cashier for some kind of discount, even a student discount.
- Riddle for the Ages: Everyone who meets Wiseau is curious about his background and the source of his wealth. Sestero learns early on that these are Forbidden Questions when dealing with Tommy, and what little he manages to learn only adds further questions.
- Late in the book Greg's brother tells him he found out Tommy's real birthdate and age thanks to a friend in the State Department, he tells Greg but it's never given to the reader.
- Once, Greg was off in Romania for filming. He still has no idea how Tommy Wiseau found him to send a Christmas telegram.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Both directors-of-photography do this, along with nearly the entire crew working at the time they quit.
- While filming establishing shots in a high-end residential area of San Francisco, Tommy gets into an argument with a police officer, who asks to see their filming permit (which Tommy insisted they wouldn't need). After a few minutes, in which it becomes clear the cop was not going to be like everyone else who Tommy had pulled this on, Greg and the crew immediately started packing everything with a lens or a cable and fled.
- Sell Out: For all his talk of subverting the studio system, Tommy holds himself hostage to their standards and methods. He unfailingly tries to present himself as a first-class filmmaker to Birns & Sawyer, which is why the film's equipment costs were so astronomical.
- Small Name, Big Ego: According to Greg, Tommy's self-proclaimed greatest dream is to own his own planet.
- Start My Own: The Room owes its existence to this. Tommy was, in his own words, tired of 'waiting for Hollywood' to give him a chance so he decided to write, produce and bankroll his own movie.
- Stepford Smiler: Peter Anway's "plugged-in grin" for whenever he had to deal with Tommy's absurd antics.
- Tech Marches On: Why even big-name studios never purchase their equipment, which Tommy fails to realize. What is cutting edge now will be obsolete in a year.
- The Spook: Tommy Wiseau's true origins remain a complete mystery, as does the origins of his wealth. Even his age is not revealed by Sestero after finding it out.
- The Unreveal: Even though Greg learns Tommy's true age through his brother's friend in the State Department, he never tells the reader.
- They Just Didn't Care: As production dragged on, the cast and crew of The Room gave up on it. Most were convinced it would never be viewed by anyone. Professionalism on set fell apart. Sestero admitted to mailing in his performance. Several scenes are out of focus because they never bothered to check.
- This Is Going To Be Huge: Tommy Wiseau, to what should be no one's surprise. He thought The Room would be a universally acclaimed classic that would net him several Oscars, that people would love and talk about for years to come. Well, people are talking about it...
- Throw It In: Almost everything that fans love about The Room was a Throw It In. Wiseau was writing, directing, casting, rewriting, and acting by the seat of his pants.
- The famous "hospital on Guerrero Street" was thrown in by Greg because that was where Tommy's San Francisco apartment was. Even though no one who saw the film would ever get the reference, Tommy was furious (yet kept the take since it was the best one they had).
- The origin of the famous framed spoons is revealed. Early in filming the living room scenes, Sandy said they needed something on the table. After Sandy repeatedly offered his own house for the set (which Tommy saw as an attempt by Sandy to gain control of the film), the art department went out to find picture frames. Each one had stock pictures of spoons, which Tommy included for the reason that he wanted to get on with filming.
- Tommy insisted on every actor being present during the entirety of filming, since he'd occasionally get struck with an idea that one of them not originally written into the scene should be in the background.
- Too Many Belts: Something that was among Tommy's questionable sense of fashion, which he explained "feels good" and "keeps my ass up.''
- Trademark Favorite Food: For Tommy, it's hot water, to the point where he has a cooler of it at all times during the shoot.
- AND five cans of Red Bull energy drink.
- Tranquil Fury: Dan Janjigian when he calls out Tommy for balking at replacing his boots. And it works.
- Troubled Production: The Film.
- Try to Fit THAT on a Business Card!: At Wiseau Films, Tommy was the founder, president, CEO, treasurer, legal department, brand manager, administrative assistant (under the pseudonym of "John"), phone answerer, and mail opener.
- Undisclosed Funds: Greg declines to actually say how big his paycheck was to convince him to play Mark, though it was enough to instantly change both his and his girlfriend's minds.
- Upper-Class Twit: Sandy Schklair's initial impression of Wiseau. Specifically, he believed the latter to likely be the spoiled son of some Bulgarian oligarch who had been paid to leave and never come back to avoid embarassing his family.
- Unfortunate Implications: The book invokes this with the female characters of The Room, stating that they're only capable of drinking, shopping, gossiping, and/or having sex.
- Un-Person: Anyone who voluntarily left production was declared this by Tommy, especially Kyle Vogt (who left because he had another gig at the time, which he repeatedly reminded Tommy of) and Sandy Schklair (who left midway through production as he got an offer to work with Janusz Kaminski, Steven Spielberg's cinematographer). Neither of them were invited to the film's premiere.
- Unsportsmanlike Gloating: Tommy did this over Greg after "winning" the Bay To Breakers race (he was among the first 10,000 people to cross the finish line and would be in the newspaper as a result). The funny thing is that Tommy unknowingly entered Greg into the race and with all that was said and done, Greg didn't care that he "lost" and actually enjoyed himself by walking in the race and even going to a race-side house party while participating.
- Unusual Euphemism: Apparently Wiseau uses the word "candy" to refer to money. Sestero notes that it is unusually creepy.
- Also, "Mickey Mouse stuff," Tommy's go-to phrase to describe anything not true to life or otherwise pertaining to his artistic vision. This is usually used as a justification for his reckless spending (the result of which usually looked less like real life).
- "[Being] Santa Claus" refers to Tommy's ability and/or willingness to spend money. More often than not, he says this in his miserly moments to dodge paying what he owes people (often right after spending extravagantly).
- What Could Have Been: As bad as the end result was, it is revealed in the book that it could have been a lot worse. Among the aborted storylines were the non-sensical dialogue ("Promotion! Promotion! That's all I hear about. Here's your coffee and English muffin and burn your mouth."), off the wall plot devices (at one point Wiseau wanted his car to go off the "roof" and fly into the sky because he imagined Johnny was possibly a vampire (???)) and even more sequences tossing around the football (including during the birthday scene after he just revealed he and Lisa were expecting.) Not to mention while writing one scene with Lisa and her mother, Tommy had Lisa talking on the phone with Claudette, and it ended with Lisa walking her mother to the door because he forgot they were on the phone. Fortunately, he was talked out of these events by Sandy and Greg, amongst others.
- What Do You Mean, It Wasn't Made on Drugs?: It wasn't. Sestero has never seen Wiseau drink or take illegal drugs. He does report, however, that he takes a lot of prescription meds, vitamins, and chugs Red Bull around the clock.
- An example of this can be seen during parts of the film's climax. During the filming of the party confrontations and the "trashing the apartment" scenes, Tommy had been taking heavy dosages of Nyquil to counter a stuffed nose and sore throat, coupled with a severe lack of sleep. In the movie he looks convincingly drunk or stoned, slurring and barely awake, but the reality was that he was just exhausted.
- Write What You Know: The parts of The Room that seem the most human, like the scene where the friends were sitting around talking about Bay to Breakers, were taken directly from Tommy's life experiences.
- You No Take Candle: Wiseau seems to speak in nothing but broken English in real life as well as in The Room.