Those faithful words “You are tearing me apart Lisa!” ring out from college dorms to hip apartments, like a mating call of the nation’s ironic.
They are reciting one of the many overwrought lines from The Room, a movie widely reputed as the worst film of all time. On Wednesday, the tenth anniversary, Reddit, the internet’s favorite on going panel of jokesters, flocked to the quotations and other irony that make up the cult of personality on Tommy Wiseau, the writer, director, producer, and star of The Room. Inside and out of the dramatic action of his one full length narrative film, Wiseau is quite a mysterious yet caricatured persona, and the mystique that surrounds him continues to flare up each morsel of public interaction.
Much of Tommy’s “bio” is dubious. Before The Room’s initial flop and subsequent resurrection, he was a complete unknown. His vaguely European accent (not to mention his odd dialogue writing) betrays his repeated claim of growing up in New Orleans, and his constant struggle to seem American does not help. This intrigue around his true origin has followed Wiseau him around despite his repeated attempts to dispel it. As it turns out, any tongue and cheek appearance of his is an instigation to wonder about the past from which he may or may not be trying to run.
The revisionist self-history includes the original intent for The Room. Tommy Wiseau claims he wanted the film to be a dark comedy, but his co stars deny any expressed intention during production that would directly indicate a sense of sardonic wit. Since The Room reached the point of geek bait, Wiseau appeared to have made lemons from the lemonade of widespread mockery. In 2005 he made an attempt at a serious documentary, but just when that film was game to be promoted, his expensive efforts to promote The Room finally proved fruitful, and the film took on an undead, Rocky Horror Picture Show-like theatrical fan base, which Wiseau bolstered his own appearances at the screenings.
At these screenings, Wiseau continuously flouted questions of his origin, or how he afforded to make a $6 million film, and was more keen to play in with the screening’s traditions: taking hails of spoon fire, throwing footballs around, and, in my one personal experience with the man at a Chicago screening, eating popcorn out of my friend’s hand.
Wiseau appeared in live stage adaptations of The Room and also branched out to other media makers that admired him. Tim and Eric of Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! Featured him at his directorial and performer capacities in an episode entitled “Tommy.” A sketch comedy group had him front and center in short film called The House That Drips Blood On Alex. Last month, a company called UOTV had Wiseau do a “visual greeting card” for Memorial Day.
The legacy of Wiseau appears to be set in stone. With each new appearance, a strange moment of DaDaist improvisation, or a red-faced attempt at overacting, the “is he serious or not?” mode lives on, a living Ed Wood who cannot make up his mind.