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Literature / The Disaster Artist

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This is my life.

"Haha. What a story, Mark."
Johnny (Tommy Wiseau), The Room

In 1998, nineteen-year-old Greg Sestero was yet another young man with the dream of making it in Hollywood. 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. Though clearly taken aback at this spontaneous act of interaction, the man agreed.

That man was one Thomas "Tommy" P. Wiseau, who avoided questions about his background. Little did Greg know that Wiseau would change his life forever, especially when the latter began work on what he saw as his magnum opus — a romantic drama called The Room... and boy, was it a magnum opus for all the wrong reasons.


The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made is a 2013 book written both by Sestero and Tom Bissell, chronicling not only the events behind the production of The Room but also Sestero's unlikely friendship with Wiseau.

James Franco directed a film adaptation of the book which was released in 2017. Tropes relating to that film should go here.

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.



  • Achievements in Ignorance: This is how Sestero views the success of The Room, a film intended to be a masterpiece, which ended up actually becoming one for all the wrong reasons.
  • 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.
  • Affluent Ascetic: Tommy is likely a multi-millionaire yet his only known place of residence is an upscale apartment with very little furnishings. Although, the way it's presented in the book, the apartment is likely just one of a larger number of residences he has.
  • The Alleged Car: Greg's main mode of transportation for most of the story is a beat-up 1991 Chevy Lumina that he describes "even a grandfather would feel square driving". To its credit, it did survive numerous drives between San Francisco and L.A. with no problems.
  • Ambiguously Human: In-Universe, Greg on occasion questions whether Tommy is actually a human being once or twice. His strange accent and mysterious origins were already well-known before this book came out, what the public didn't know were things Sestero disclosed like Tommy's Bizarre Taste in Food, his massive bank account, and his ability to put himself to sleep and then wake up at will moments before arriving at their destination (something that Tommy would always explain as being a "vampire trick"), or the fact that Tommy managed to locate Greg and send him a supportive telegram while Sestero was staying in a hotel in Romania despite the fact that Greg never told Tommy where he was going.
  • 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. The even chapters eventually catch up to the first scene in the book at the restaurant.
  • Anatomically Impossible Sex: Greg Sestero notes the same problem that has been identified by everyone else who's ever watched Johnny's sex scenes with their eyes open, that for most of said love scenes, he appears to be penetrating Lisa's navel rather than her vagina.
  • Arbitrarily Large Bank Account: Wiseau's bank account is referred to as a "bottomless pit" by a bank teller, and Greg notes that it really must be for a bank teller to say something so unprofessional. How Tommy managed to actually acquire so much money despite his apparent lack of basically any recognizable human talent or business sense is one of the many unresolved mysteries surrounding the film's paradoxical auteur. Many people on set immediately assume that Tommy is somehow involved in money laundering or organized crime, but Sestero dismisses this theory on the very logical grounds that no mafia syndicate on the planet would ever trust this guy with any amount of money, even if he hadn't been trying to become a movie star.
  • Argumentum Ad Nauseam: 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).
  • Author Appeal: Tommy's infamous love of football frequently pops up. It eventually becomes something of a trigger phrase for poor Sandy Schklair because he knows that whenever Tommy starts playing football, that's the last actual filming they're going to get done today.
  • Back for the Finale: Don, the originally-cast Mark, was apparently invited to The Room's premiere.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For:
    • A common theme in the novel. Greg needs money, he gets a role in this movie. Graham wants to shoot with HD video, he has to manage a combined 35mm/HD nightmare. Tommy wants to make a classic, he makes a "classic".
    • Tommy didn't care much for football until Greg suggested they play, which no doubt inspired the infamous football scenes in the film.
  • Be Yourself: Greg eventually tries this tactic when searching for an agency; he starts showing up for interviews in his normal clothes and doesn't try to be something he's not. It works. Tommy, however, never learns this; Greg tells him that the funny, charming Tommy he knows would probably be well-received, but Tommy thinks he needs to be "dramatic", and never gets a single call.
  • Believing Their 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 say the same thing: "Tommy Wiseau is the new Tennesse [sic] Williams, a true ragin' Cajun."
    • A truly sad example of this has Tommy telling Greg that at his one improvisational class that the fellow students liked him so much, that he made some friends and that whenever he would go on stage, they would chant his name. Later on, however, when the latter goes by the classes (to pick the former up, not to spy on him or anything), while all the classmates are laughing with each other and having a good time, Tommy is standing away from everyone else, looking sad and lonely.
  • 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, which caused Tommy to lose his cool and tackle him, shouting "No French dammit!". This even applied to loanwords from other languages, which is likely why Lisa is Johnny's "future-wife" in the movie and not his fiancée.
    • Flatulence is another one. Tommy hates it and goes on tirades when someone else farts.
  • Big Brother Is Watching: Tommy hired a cameraman named Markus to film the movie's production under the pretense of a "Making Of" documentary of The Room. In reality, Tommy spent every night watching the raw footage to see what the crew was saying about him.
    • Also done to a lesser extent with how Tommy tapes all the phone conversations made at his apartment, including Greg's. Greg only finds out by chance and confronts him about it. Tommy even uses the same tape recorder himself in the film itself while playing Johnny!
  • Big Eater: Tommy. According to Greg, Tommy eats a full Thanksgiving dinner every day in November.
  • Bile Fascination: Invoked, as this is exactly how Greg came to be involved with Wiseau.
  • Bizarre Taste in Food: Tommy Wiseau likes his drinking water scalding hot, five cans of Red Bull a day, and as much food as he can stuff into his face.
  • 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.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: Tommy, again. The reason Tommy laughs in the scene where Mark tells Johnny a story about a woman whose boyfriend abused her so badly she had to go to the hospital is because Tommy kept laughing, and the rest of the crew just gave up and kept going after dozens of failed takes because despite everyone's best efforts, Tommy simply could not understand why domestic abuse isn't something one laughs at.
  • Boisterous Weakling: Tommy possesses both a remarkable amount of bravado and absolutely no ability to defend himself when backed into a corner. He writes an absurd threatening letter to CAA, one of the biggest agencies in L.A., saying that they don't have the "guts" to take on a potential superstar like him as their client, and acts like a total jerk to everyone around him. Whenever someone intimidating like Dan or Greg's mother calls him on his bullshit, however, he quickly caves. What makes this even more strangely amusing is that Tommy is not a small or physically weak man by any means, he works out on a daily basis and Sestero, who's not a small or weak man himself, describes him as having a vice-like grip and "cyborg-level strength". The infamously pathetic "brawl" between Mark and Johnny at the climax of the film is perhaps the ultimate example of this trope in action, while even Sestero himself will admit that "grade school fights have been more brutal", in reality Wiseau was still gripping Sestero's arm so hard he left major bruises there.
  • Boomerang Bigot: Although Tommy Wiseau is obviously a European of some strange, previously undiagnosed variety, and is assumed to have at the very least spent some time in France (given his bastardized French surname and grasp of the language), he absolutely despises any use of foreign languages on set, and seemingly French in particular, going so far as to tackle Sestero when the latter casually drops some French while shooting a scene with Tommy. See Dark and Troubled Past below for a possible source of this animosity.
  • 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.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Not with filmmaking, but Tommy's ludicrous wealth despite his extremely abrasive and bizarre personality and seeming ineptitude at virtually everything he's shown to do through Greg's account really gives off the impression that he would have to be this at whatever exactly he does for a living.
  • 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.
    • 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.
    • While jokes about Juliette Danielle's looks were already uncalled 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 thirty-two takes over three hours makes it somehow more hilarious, as is the fact that the original script just had him entering and saying "Oh hai Mark"; the ranting ahead of time was added minutes before filming for dramatic effect, which explains why he's saying that despite having no reason to know about Lisa's lie at that point in the film.
    • 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: It quickly becomes apparent that whatever wavelength Wiseau operates on, only ever syncs up with reality when the planets align.
  • Comically Missing the Point:
    • Greg saw The Talented Mr. Ripley and chillingly realized it was disturbingly applicable to his relationship with Tommy Wiseau. Tommy saw The Talented Mr. Ripley and thought "I can make a better movie than that".
    • Greg's mother said "no sex, Tommy", and his awkward response was "Well, we all do", not getting the implication that she was referring to her son.
  • Cool Old Lady: Iris Burton, Greg's agent. The woman landed an acting contract for a fetus.
    • Also Carolyn Minnott, who handles the insanities of the production with a relentlessly positive attitude and casually brushes off fainting due to heatstroke on set.
  • Corpsing: A behind-the-scenes version. In addition to the "giggle tent", Juliette Danielle (amongst others) kept laughing at Wiseau over the infamous "You are tearing me apart, Lisa!" scene due to blown take 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 Enough to Work: Wiseau's original plan for getting Greg to play the already-cast role of Mark was to film all of Mark's scenes twice, once with "Don" and once with Greg, only pretending to roll film on Don and claiming all the while that Greg's scenes are an audition for the non-existent higher-ups at Wiseau-Films. Greg calls it "just crazy enough not to work at all". Sure enough, it falls apart after a single day.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: Wiseau does not respond well to Sestero having other friends.
  • Creator's Apathy: invoked 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.
  • Critical Research Failure: invoked 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." To be fair, there is an actual Mark Damon but it’s very hard to confuse the two.
    • He aspired for Lisa to be absolutely irresistible 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.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Although Greg himself casts doubts on the backstory Tommy gives when he's willing to share anything (about escaping from an unspecified Communist country in Eastern Europe and suffering Police Brutality from the French authorities in the process), it's clear that something has happened to Tommy to leave him such an emotionally damaged person. Even Greg's mother, who is one of Tommy's most aggressive critics, notes to her son that whatever is going on with Tommy, he's clearly "been put through the wringer."
  • invokedDawson 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 major dysfunction going on behind the scenes, especially when the director is not entirely "there" and everyone else knows that things are going disastrously.
    • 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.
      • Both are then kind of reconstructed in that, while the finished product is horrible, its horribleness is strangely masterful and part of its appeal.
  • 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) 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.
    • Greg also becomes one towards the end, when the disasters and drama behind the scenes really begin to pile up. In spite of everything that's gone wrong, he still desperately wants to make sure the film is completed, and not just for the large sum of cash he's been promised. He states that by that point, the thought of all of this hard work and needless suffering amounting to absolutely nothing became heartbreaking to him.
    • Tommy himself comes across as one of these too, determined to make his movie and tell his story, and unwilling to let anything - not even a lack of talent - stand in his way. See Deconstruction, above.
  • Double-Meaning Title: Every chapter that talks about the filming process uses a quote from the movie that is both from one of the scenes being filmed in that chapter and relates to another subject that comes up in that chapter. For example, the chapter "Where's my fucking money?" is about both the Chris-R reshoot, the one that got into the film, and Tommy's mysterious, vast and unexplained fortune.
  • 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, though Greg doubts how true they are. Played straight when Tommy confronts Greg over him talking to his hippie friend about Tommy, where he becomes angry and unhinged and starts driving like the "normal" version of crazy.
  • invokedDude, 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.
  • Dumbass Has a Point: Tommy is normally wrong about... well, everything. But there is one moment where he manages to hit the nail on the head. After Greg loses a role he was feeling confident about and is extremely upset, to the point of contemplating quitting acting, Tommy tells him not to give up. In fact, he says that rather than beat himself up over losing the part, Greg ought to be proud for getting as close as he did, since, in his own words, "Many people never get close to anything." Reflecting on this after the fact, Greg says that this pep talk helped convince him to keep going. For pretty much the only time the story — or possibly ever — Tommy managed to say just the right thing.
  • invokedDye Hard: Wiseau, whose natural hair color 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 America the Beautiful and often extols the virtues of the Land of Opportunity.
  • Easily Forgiven: The original actor cast for the role of Mark doesn't hold any hard feelings towards Greg for being complicit in screwing him out of the role. In fact, he takes it rather well and prophetically predicts they'll all be laughing about this someday.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: In-Universe.
    • Dan Janjigian, the actor who played Chris-R. An actor with no previous experience, he walked onto the set, got into character, nailed his performance, and walked off again, impressing everyone... except for Tommy, who ended up calling him back weeks later to film the same scene on a different set when he suddenly decided he didn't like the original take. Even on short notice, Janjigian returned to set and nailed the scene again.
    • Robyn Paris aka Michelle. Despite playing a second-string character to a second-string character, she charms the entire crew from pretty much the moment she shows up, is one of the only people who immediately grasps what kind of shitshow she's entering and starts taking steps to prepare, and wins the heart of every man on set pretty much immediately.
  • Epic Fail: Really, the entire film production is one of these after another. Tommy routinely makes production decisions that defy not only basic film production procedures, but basic logic.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • Another with Tommy's fake review blurbs; One of his made up "Movie Review publication" sources is Beverly Hills, 90210... which was a television drama series and not a movie/entertainment publication.
    • Once Tommy finally successfully completes a take of the scene of Johnny walking down the stairs and crossing the room to the answering machine, he's quite smug about it. Greg decides not to remind him that earlier that day, Carolyn and Juliette had filmed an entire scene—in the middle of which Carolyn had collapsed from heat exhaustion, gone to the hospital, and returned to finish the scene—in less time than it took Tommy to film that one shot.
  • Epigraph: Each chapter starts with quotes from Sunset Boulevard and The Talented Mr. Ripley.
  • invokedEscapist Character: Greg Sestero eventually realizes that Johnny is this for Tommy, being a successful "American" version of himself who has a beautiful wife, a job he's great at, and many young friends.
  • Establishing Character Moment: The book opens with Sestero and Tommy going to eat at a high-end restaurant, where Tommy dumps an entire water bottle onto his head after getting out of his car, wearing a trainwreck of an outfit so bizarre that people nearby can't stop staring at him. He believes that the two of them have no need to wait in line like everybody else and lies his way into getting a reserved table for them, and then browbeats their waitress into giving them an exclusive booth in the nicest part of the restaurant. 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 the character Mark in his film 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.
  • Extreme Doormat: Greg. Even considering the fact that Tommy never backs down no matter what, Greg is pretty submissive to him. By the time the timeline reaches actual production of The Room, he offers little to no resistance to anything Tommy does or plans to do.
  • Fake Brit / The Queen's Latin: Invoked. The casting call for Andre Toulon specifies a British accent despite the character being French. Greg manages to avert this.
  • 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: The nude scenes, In-Universe. Ah, Tommy. Living proof that just because a man is seriously fit and works out regularly does not mean that he looks good naked.
  • A Father to His Men: Both Raphael and Graham (their first Director of Photography and his short-lived successor) are this to their respective crews, trying to keep them properly healthy and hydrated, wrestle their paychecks out of Tommy, and trying to shield them from his abuse whenever possible. The latter is all the more impressive because of how young he was, and yet nevertheless was willing to directly confront Tommy on his bullshit and call him a "filthy fucking liar" to his face. Sestero even notes that he can tell whenever a DP is respected by his crew, because wherever he goes, they follow, and when he leaves, they leave.
  • invokedFetish Retardant: To quote Wiseau himself, "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 mix and match audio and subtitle 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.
  • Funny Foreigner: Exaggerated and deconstructed in Tommy. It's obvious that his strangeness hinges on some kind of illness or trauma incidental to his foreignness. Other foreigners, like Greg's mom or Zsolt the Hungarian sound guy, are just as baffled by Tommy as anyone else.
  • 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.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Tommy Wiseau set out to make a much-beloved film that would be a box office hit and discussed for years to come, and he succeeded beyond his wildest dreams.
    • Tommy even vowed to Greg, more than once and as early as its conception, that the film would be such a stand-out that audiences "won't be able to sleep for two weeks". While Greg may have politely kept his doubts in his pocket throughout the entire production, it was only during the filming of Johnny's pre-suicide intimacy with Lisa's sexy red dress did it hit Greg just how horrifyingly true Tommy's prediction might become.
  • Hidden Depths: Tommy. He's rude, manipulative, jealous, and childish (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 melancholic Tommy really is, culminating in a VERY startling phone message that Sestero (probably accurately) takes to be a suicide note, not that anything happens. Plus the backstory for Tommy that may or may not be fake. Not to mention the fact that despite his complete lack of filmmaking knowledge or talent, he's still somehow somehow loaded enough to fund The Room out of his own pocket. Singlehandedly.
  • 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.
  • invokedHostility on the Set: The book and The Room's So Bad, It's Good reputation owe their existence to how poorly the cast and crew were treated by Wiseau.
  • Humiliation Conga: Greg started to hate both Tommy and the film when Tommy demanded he shave for the "Babyface" close up. Not only did Greg like his beard but he was also planning on shaving it off later so no one would recognize him from this film. He then nearly walked off the set when Tommy wanted him to imitate a chicken. He finally reached his wit's end during a struggle to say the line "Leave your stupid comments in your pocket!" The only way he was able to produce any emotion for the incomprehensible, awkward sentence was by imagining that it really meant "Why are you doing this to me?" and that he was shouting it in Tommy's face. Ironically, this line, which Sestero hated more than any other in the script, ended up being one of his character's most famous catchphrase.
  • 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 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.
  • I Just Want to Have Friends: Greg has a minor "Eureka!" Moment when he sees Tommy watching the infamous "football in tuxedos" scene, and realizes that the reason Tommy refuses to cut it (besides just his usual obstinacy) is that it shows Tommy a version of himself who is youthfully energetic, happy, successful, and has many young friends. It's one of the few moments in the book where you kind of feel sorry for Tommy.
  • 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.
    • Tommy insisted that Lisa's wardrobe be particularly fetching and chose her outfits without considering the actual body of his actress. While an attractive young woman, Juliette Danielle was not the slinky seductress of Tommy's vision, and a lot of her costuming turned out to be unflattering. Rather than reconsidering his costume choices, Tommy chose to blame Juliette. This is exemplified in a scene where the off-the-shoulder blouse he has chosen for Juliette reveals a patch of acne on her back, for which he loudly and publicly berates the costumer and makeup artist while a humiliated Juliette stands in silent tears.
  • 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."
    • Some of Tommy's insistent terminology seems to rub off on Greg; his narrative also only says "future wife" instead of "fiancée", and refers to the actor Dan as "Don".
  • Inter Generational Friendship: Greg and Tommy, not that Tommy would ever admit it.
  • I Reject Your Reality: Tommy at many times. One of his favorite phrases is a blunt "I disagree with that" in the face of any criticism, no matter how slight (or how valid). It's even lampshaded by Greg at one point:
    "When you're able to see only what you want to see, it's remarkably easy to live in a problem-free world."
  • Irony: Tommy during production is a Bad "Bad Actor" who blows countless takes and shouts for lines he himself wrote. When he actually prepares beforehand for the rooftop party scene, he's in the midst of a nasty cold and on a cocktail of Nyquil and Red Bull making him prone to crashing.
  • 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 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." As Greg describes, "Tommy's stench is all over the film before it even begins."
  • It's Not Porn, It's Art: Tommy insisted on screen-testing potential actresses for Lisa, his character's future wife, by having them make out with him. Most of the actresses simply walked out at this point; the rest were only convinced to stay when Greg assured them that this was a legitimate film, not a porno. The fact that Tommy has a sizable bed in his office absolutely does not help.
  • Jerkass: Tommy Wiseau is this for the most part, ranging from the horrendous abuse he subjects his actors to on set to his relationship with Greg becoming controlling and almost toxic.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: A frequent response by anyone on set not named Tommy Wiseau to things going wrong, as they do basically each and every day of filming.
    • When Tommy fails to hire a line producer on time, Raphael Smadja quits on the spot, and his entire crew starts packing up the gear and follows him. As does Graham (Raphael's replacement) and his crew when he also quits due to frustration with Tommy's bullshit. Both times this is followed up by the entire cast also going home for the day when it becomes blatantly obvious that they're not going to get any more filming done that day.
    • Greg and the rest of the skeleton crew Tommy brings with him to capture establishing shots on location immediately pack up the equipment and get the hell out of dodge ASAP when Tommy starts arguing with the police officer who told him he couldn't film without a permit.
  • 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. At times (like the infamous scene where Tommy could not stop laughing even after the crew had to repeatedly explain to him that domestic abuse is no laughing matter), it goes beyond him simply being a jerkass into the realm of seeming like he doesn't understand how other humans experience emotion.
  • 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: 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 Screen Actors Guild card by being in a commercial. Tommy responds to this by writing, producing, directing, and starring in a commercial for a company he owns. Greg entertains himself with the thought that after receiving Tommy's commercial, SAG went through their legal documents with a fine-tooth comb trying to find a loophole that will let them refuse him membership.
  • invokedLooping Lines: The reason a lot of Tommy's dialogue is horribly dubbed into the film is because most of his captured audio performance was unusable. For example, Tommy's line of "You're lying! I never hit you!" originally sounded more like "You're a lion, I never heat you!"
  • 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 right about Tommy.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Wiseau of all people is a male example. 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.
  • The Mentor: Tommy wants to be this to Greg. Greg quickly outgrows Tommy, to the latter's distress.
  • invokedMethod Acting: Dan Janjigian (Chris-R) takes this approach to his role.
  • Mistaken Nationality: Greg believed at first that Tommy was French. When Greg's mother, a French national, went over to talk to him in French, he became very uncomfortable and tried to leave the conversation. The French as a people have always been very prideful of their strong sense of national identity, so when he reacted that way, she almost instantly caught on to it and said to Greg, "That man is not French. But whatever he is, I think he's been through the wringer." If the backstory about Tommy is true, then not only is she right, but he kinda has a reason for being a bit uncomfortable around French-speaking people.
  • invokedMoney, 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: Every single part detailing Tommy's childhood (at least what Wiseau claims his childhood was like).
    • Chapter Eight (which concerns Greg landing the Retro Puppet Master role) ends with Greg, while in Romania, receiving a supportive telegram from Tommy on Christmas. While at first this seems like a heartwarming moment, as the last line of the chapter makes clear:
      I still don't know how Tommy found me.note 
  • Multiple-Choice Past: Tommy tells Greg different, often contradicting stories about his early life. He's especially vague on how he became so wealthy.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: When Graham is finally sick of Tommy's compulsive lying about getting a generator:
    Graham grabbed a paint towel from the box at his feet and stood with righteous fury. "Tommy", he said. Tommy turned and Graham marched up to him and threw the paint towel at Tommy's feet. This was far more dramatic than it sounds. It looked as grave an insult as a seventeenth-century Frenchman slapping another with a white glove. He stuck his finger in Tommy's face. "You're a fucking liar, Tommy. You're a fucking liar."
  • Mundane Wish: The ulterior purpose of the alley ("Me underwears") scene, where Tommy can at last be a young man palling around with friends.
  • My Beloved Smother: Greg's mother did not approve of his wanting to be an actor, and 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. He even tries this on a policeman, who wants to see his filming permit; it goes about as well as you'd think.
  • Non Sequitur: Like the script of The Room, Tommy is full of these. For instance, he ends an angry rant about his and Greg's roommate situation with a double-take-inducing "I think I will get married soon."
  • Odd Friendship: The 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 of the Kids: Yet another trope Tommy unsuccessfully aspires to. Greg notes that he's much more comfortable around actors in their teens and twenties than people (presumably) his own age. His habit of underestimating Greg's age only reinforces this.
  • One Steve Limit: The actor originally cast as Mark was named Dan, but Tommy always called him "Don." The weird thing is, the narration calls him Don too; while never explicitly stated, it's easy to surmise that this was to avoid confusing Don with Dan Janjigian, his roommate.
  • 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.
  • Paper Tiger: Tommy's modus operandi is to yell and insult people until they give him what he wants. This tends to work on people in the service industries, who generally can't afford to talk back to a customer, and other people who really need the work. But it is painfully obvious Tommy's all talk: Whenever someone really stands up to him, such as Greg's mom, Dan Janjigian, or the police, he folds pretty quickly.
  • 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.
  • Powder Keg Crowd: Tommy is nearly assaulted by his first film crew after he refused to pay them, forcing Greg to intervene.
  • Prima Donna Director: Wiseau, unsurprisingly.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Wiseau acts like a child throughout the book. One example is how he threw temper tantrums to get his way.
  • 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.
  • Rage Breaking Point: Graham, the second DP, explodes on Tommy when he refuses to rent a generator even after Graham begged him repeatedly, and then lies about it to Graham's face. Graham and his entire crew quit right there on the spot.
  • Rags to Riches: According to Greg's backstory for Tommy, after he got to San Francisco he began peddling yo-yos and toy birds and it quickly grew into a multi-million dollar retail empire. Even Greg lampshades this as being probably the least likely part of his story.
  • 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.
    • During production, whenever asked why the crew had to build a facsimile of an alleyway, or film on a greenscreen rather than use the rooftop of an actual building Tommy owned, Wiseau's reasoning was this — it's a "Hollywood movie", so it had to be shot extravagantly on sets rather than cheaply on location. Subverted, as both scenes wound up looking much more fake than the alternative and only wasted money.
    • The quality of the filmmaking is so inept that many people assume it was made for pocket change. It actually cost six million dollars and was funded by Tommy entirely out of his own pocket, he's just that bad with money.
  • invokedReality Subtext: The backstory of Tommy that Greg puts forth (which may or may not be true) describes how Tommy first came to San Francisco: he arrived with two suitcases and a $2000 check he couldn't cash, and stayed at the YMCA. In other words, it's identical to how Johnny met Lisa in the film.
  • 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.
  • Remittance Man: Sandy Schklair's initial impression of Wiseau was that he was likely a modern example of one of these - 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 embarrassing his family.
  • 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 caused his second DP to resign because Tommy refused 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 who works for the California state government. 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.
    • What Tommy was up to during the nine months he claimed to be in London on "business". It's extremely obvious from his many slip-ups over the phone and afterward that he was actually in San Francisco rather than London, and he returns with the completed script of The Room, a new look, and a new zest for life. However, his contact with Greg during this time was very suicidal in tone, indicating that there was a lot more going on than just self-improvement.
  • Royal "We": Whenever Tommy wants to give himself more authority or deflect blame from himself, he has a tendency to impose his desires upon the other (nonexistent) executive producers and speak collectively of him and "them" as "we". "We cannot pay you at this time". "We want to see Greg on film for another project". Since it's apparent from the get-go that he's the only person he's talking about, it gives off the (fitting, considering his arrogance) impression that he's speaking with the royal "we".
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!:
    • Both directors of photography do this, along with nearly the entire crew working at the time they quit.
    • When it came time to cast the roles of Lisa and Michelle, almost every woman auditioning were either driven off by Tommy's obnoxious interviewing style or left when they realized they would have to make out with him.
    • Out of the thirty crew members the film had, only three of them offered to help Tommy shoot the San Francisco exterior shots.
    • 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 start packing everything with a lens or a cable and flee.
  • The Scrooge: Zig-Zagged with Tommy. While he's easily willing to buy instead of rent cameras and lenses to make an HD/35mm monstrosity, he's unwilling to buy extremely basic goods and services necessary for a film production such as generators, air conditioners and dinner for the cast & crew.
  • 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. (Presumably, this isn't the planet from which he traveled to Earth.)
  • Spell My Name with a "The": Tommy spells everyone's name with a "the".
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • invokedTechnology Marches On: Why even big-name studios never purchase their equipment, which Tommy fails to realize. What is cutting edge now will be nigh obsolete in a year.
  • 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...
  • invokedThrow 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.
    • The famous "Oh hai doggy" line was improvised on the spot when Tommy noticed the tiny pug dog sitting on the counter of the flower shop he was filming the scene in. Nobody else in the crew noticed the dog, as it sat perfectly still on the counter (probably because, according to the flower shop lady, the dog was really old). He took a liking to "doggy", fascinated by its quietness and cuteness.
    • 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.
  • invokedTroubled Production: The book and The Room's reputation as a So Bad, It's Good film owe their existence to how troubled the production was. Between all of Wiseau's constant penny-pinching and Prima Donna Director tendencies, Greg considers it a testament to the determination of the cast and crew that the film ended up finished at all.
  • 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.
    • When Greg and Sandy go to cash Tommy's first check, the bank teller gigglingly calls Tommy's account "a bottomless pit". Obviously she doesn't reveal how much money Tommy actually has, but Greg notes that it must be truly astronomical to get her to say that much.
  • invokedUnfortunate 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.
  • The Unreveal:
    • Even though Greg learns Tommy's true age through his brother's friend in the government, he never tells the reader.
    • When the narrative first starts diving deep into Tommy's background, it doesn't disclose Tommy's country of origin (beyond narrowing it down to Communist Bloc Europe) or his birth name, calling him only "T——" until he adopts the assorted aliases that would lead to him becoming Thomas Pierre Wiseau.
  • 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 (he was even wearing sandals at the time) 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 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).
  • Voodoo Shark: Think of anything in The Room that doesn't make sense. All of it will make less sense after hearing Sestero describe Tommy's explanation for it.
    • Like the breast cancer reveal, which is never brought up again after its mentioned. "Oh that's the twist, hah?"
    • Tommy building a rooftop set in Los Angeles and using green-screen to add in a San Francisco skyline even though he owns a building with rooftop access in San Francisco with excellent views of the city. "I don't want this to be no Mickey Mouse production. I want it look professional."
  • "Weird Al" Effect: invoked Greg mentions the possibility of Tommy's "You are tearing me apart, Lisa!" line becoming more well known than than James Dean's "You're tearing me apart!", noting with some concern that a clip of Wiseau's version has ten times as many hits on YouTube as a clip of Dean's.
  • invokedWhat 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 nonsensical 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 more sequences tossing around the football (including during the birthday scene after he just revealed he and Lisa were expecting.) 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.
    • The screenplay itself started life as both a novel and a stage play.
  • What Do You Mean, It Wasn't Made on Drugs?: invoked 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.
  • What, Exactly, Is His Job?: Tommy Wiseau is absurdly wealthy, and no one has any idea how. He owns properties in both Los Angeles and San Francisco (two of the most expensive cities in the USA), and buys Greg a brand-new SUV practically on a whim. He paid for The Room's $6 million budget out of his own pocket (yes, it really cost that much to make) and was in no danger of going bankrupt even after his movie bombed in theaters. A bank teller describes Tommy's bank account as "a bottomless pit", and Sestero surmises that it must have been true if a bank teller would describe it in such an informal and unprofessional manner. It's yet another strange detail about Tommy's life that he absolutely refuses to explain, under any circumstances.
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?: Greg describes Tommy's famous accent as sounding like "an Eastern European accent that had been run over by a Parisian bus". Tommy's life story as presented in the book has him being born and spending his childhood in an unspecified Eastern European country, his young adulthood in France, and learning English in New Orleans, which is as good an explanation as any for why he sounds like that. For his part, Tommy makes several attempts to claim he's a Ragin' Cajun.
  • invokedWrite 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.
  • Younger Than They Look: Averted. Despite Wiseau's claims that he's in his late twenties to early thirties, nobody believes him. He also has a tendency to call Greg and others "young man" when they annoy him, even though he's supposedly in the same age group as them.
  • You No Take Candle: Wiseau seems to speak in nothing but broken English in real life as well as in The Room.


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