Thomas Pierre Wiseau is perhaps one of the most enigmatic people in Hollywood. No one truly knows where he came from (the most common answer he gives when asked is that he's from "Louisiana"); or even how old he is, the most commonly held belief is that he was born in Poland in the late 60s and raised in France, but again, this is mere speculation. Whatever his origin, he eventually made his way to California and sought to join the ranks of the Hollywood elite. The problem was that he proved to be completely unsuited for acting, but he nevertheless persisted in his quest for international fame.
And that fame came in the form of the 2003 film The Room. With incomprehensible dialogue, plot threads that appear and then disappear, and actors with varying degrees of enthusiasm, it was a movie that had no business being shown to an audience. And yet, somehow, it became one of the most popular and talked-out films of the early 21st Century (albeit for none of the reasons that Wiseau intended).
Much of the Troubled Production preceding the release of The Room — as well as key details about Wiseau's personal life — is recounted in the 2013 book The Disaster Artist by the movie's co-star (and Wiseau's close friend), Greg Sestero. In the film adaptation of the book, Wiseau is portrayed by James Franco.
To recap, a filmmaker whose looks are most charitably described as "homely" and whose level of filmmaking knowledge makes Ed Wood look like Clint Eastwood somehow managed to independently produce a film that still plays in screenings to packed houses over a decade and a half later and become the subject of a Golden Globe-winning biopic.
He would later be forced by aliens to play video games in the web series The Tommy Wi-Show, direct, produce, write, and star in the Hulu series The Neighbors, and play the villain Linton Kitano in Samurai Cop 2: Deadly Vengeance. In October 2016 it was announced that he and Greg Sestero would star in a comedy thriller film called Best F(r)iends, with the release of Part 1 on March 30th, 2018 and Part 2 on May 18th, 2018. In early 2019, at a screening for The Room, a trailer was released for a new film project, titled Big Shark, which is about a shark attack in New Orleans. And this project appears to be genuine; according to Wiseau, the purpose of the teaser is to help Wiseau secure more funding.
Surprisingly, Wiseau may also be One of Us. He's expressed interest in directing a major Hollywood blockbuster, notably throwing his hat into the ring to direct the initially-planned sequel to Fantastic Four (2015) before it was removed from 20th Century Fox's filming schedule. More recently, he's offered to play in or direct movies based on DC Comics, Star Wars and Marvel Comics, even making an audition tape for playing The Joker.
Tropes associated with this creator
- Achievements in Ignorance: Quite possibly the single most Giftedly Bad filmmakers since Ed Wood. And yet his creation still plays to packed audiences that most filmmakers could only dream of.
- Also, people tend to forget that, for someone who seems to struggle with basic aspects of human communication, Tommy was already a multimillionaire - somehow - before shooting The Room, so this trope surely had to be involved somewhere.
- Ambiguously Human: He sometimes jokes that he's a vampire. Considering how many vampire tropes he fits—an unusual accent, a mysterious background, Vague Age, strange diet, a surprisingly large bank account, wearing sunglasses constantly, chalk-white skin, and according to Greg Sestero, can put himself to sleep and then wake up on command—some people actually believe it.
- Berserk Button: He hates it when people talk about his past or when they try to figure out his past. One of the reasons why he disliked the book "The Disaster Artist" is because it indulged in his past or highlighted aspects of it. In simple terms, the only one who can talk about his past is Wiseau himself and nobody else.
- Cold Ham: His acting style is simultaneously overblown and nonchalant, somehow.
- Cloud Cuckoolander: No one interprets life and emotion the way Tommy Wiseau does. It's a huge part of his charm.
- Doing It for the Art: Where to begin? He financed The Room out of his own pocket - all six million misplaced dollars of the budget - bought and shot it with HD and film cameras simultaneouslynote , had an exact copy built of the alleyway between buildings he already owned because he didn't like the way the real alleyway looked...In short, Tommy Wiseau was going to make his movie, his way, and by God, he succeeded. As Greg Sestero and the rest of the crew discovered while working with him, Tommy is actually independently wealthy - enough to comfortably finance the entire movie - and became a filmmaker just because he loves movies that much.
- Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Despite his desire to be a leading man, he's seemingly cultivated this for years, keeping his naturally brown and curly hair sleek and jet-black.
- Funny Foreigner: His oddness is quite independent of his nationality, but his accent and language skills add to the impression.
- Giftedly Bad: He's been dubbed "The Ed Wood of the 21st Century" for a reason.
- Hidden Depths: Clearly this guy is so wacky that he became a movie director because he couldn't hold down any other job, right? Wrong. Greg Sestro and many of the other crew were dumbfounded to learn that Tommy is not just comfortably well-off, he's loaded, and funded the movie out of his own pocket through a substantial fortune he amassed over the years in real estate, so he clearly has some talent in entrepreneurship to compensate for that which he lacks in filmmaking talent.
- Immigrant Patriotism: He loves America, to the point where he won't even reveal what country he's originally from. It doesn't matter to him because he's American now.
- Mad Artist: Quite possibly cinema's greatest living example.
- Mysterious Past: He refuses to answer questions about his past or any aspects of his personal life, to the point that James Franco expressed genuine surprise upon hearing Tommy admit the rather obvious tidbit that he's originally from Europe.
- Non-Specifically Foreign: He doesn't reveal what country he immigrated from, saying only that it's in Europe.
- No Pronunciation Guide: As "Wiseau" is a name of his own invention—a combination of his unknown birth name and the French word oiseau (bird)—its pronunciation isn't immediately clear. The commonly accepted pronunciation is "wiz-OH", but even Tommy himself isn't a hundred percent consistent on it; "wis-AH" and "WISE-oh" are also common.
- Ragin' Cajun: He used this very phrase to describe himself when The Room came out. Whatever his accent is, it sure isn't Cajun.
- Reality Is Unrealistic: You'd never in a million years buy this guy as a character if he wasn't a real person. If you've heard a strange story about him, not only is it most likely true, Greg Sestero can probably give you details that are even weirder.
- Rich in Dollars, Poor in Sense: Tommy's poor budgetary decisions during the production of The Room are the stuff of legend, providing a six million dollar budget, most of which was needlessly squandered, entirely out of his own pocket - without creating any serious threat to his own personal finances. Nobody's quite sure how he got all that money, either. Some people have speculated that he's somehow connected to organized crime, or even that the entire movie was just a giant money-laundering scheme, but Greg Sestero has dismissed these theories, on the very reasonable grounds that no significantly wealthy crime syndicate in the world would trust this guy to take care of their finances.
- Shrouded in Myth: Part of what makes Tommy such a cult figure is the fact he's possibly the single most mysterious man in all Hollywood. Almost nothing is known about his past in any concrete detail, which he refuses to divulge and reacts poorly when others attempt to do so, and we have no explicit confirmation as to his country of origin, his past, his age, or even his species.
- The Spook: Again, nobody knows where the hell Tommy came from, where he developed that accent, and how he made enough of a fortune to finance The Room on his own. Even his real age is a mystery except for himself and Greg Sestero, who knows but has vowed to keep the secret.
- Sunglasses at Night: You will seldom see him without his Cool Shades.
- Vague Age: Tommy's true age is unknown, and his bizarre, not-quite-old-but-definitely-not-young looks don't make it any clearer. During an interview for the original release of The Room he claimed to have been born in '68 or '69, but there's speculation that Tommy is actually much older than that. He's definitely at least middle age, but beyond that it's merely guesswork. Greg Sestero, for his part, apparently knows Tommy's real age, but has chosen not to publicly disclose it. Various sources list his birthday as October 3, 1955, which would make him in his 60s, but this date is not at all verified.
- What, Exactly, Is His Job?: Tommy was independently wealthy and financed the production of The Room entirely out of his own pocket - nobody, including Greg Sestero, is quite sure how he made so much money despite his sheer lack of talent in seemingly every other field.
- What the Hell Is That Accent?: He originates in a European country he won't name (believed by those who study him to be Poland) and has roots in France and New Orleans, and his accent is a combination of all three places. When unwilling to admit he's from Europe, he tries to pass his accent off as Cajun.