‘The Room’ Captures Hearts 16 Years Later

Why Are We Still in Love With Tommy Wiseau?

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LEV YAKOVLEV/THE OBSERVER

Star and producer of "The Room" Tommy Wiseau appears at a screening at New York's Village East Cinema.

By LEV YAKOVLEV, Contributing Writer

On Nov. 15 and 16, Tommy Wiseau came to New York’s Village East Cinema with a screening of “The Room” — his magnum opus that he wrote, directed and produced by himself. This 12-year-old film has terrible ratings; it only has 3.8/10 on IMDB, and it includes many scenes that are supposed to look dramatic but actually make people laugh.

Set in modern-day San Francisco, the story follows an all-American guy, Johnny (played by Wiseau himself), who deeply loves his fiancée Lisa (Juliette Danielle). Lisa feels like she doesn’t love her future husband, no matter how devoted he is to her. To make matters worse, she develops a passion for Johnny’s best friend Mark (Greg Sestero), thus developing a love triangle.

The screening itself was a very bizarre experience. We threw spoons at the screen, we shouted the most famous lines such as “I didn’t hit her…,” we saluted Danny whenever he would enter or leave the scene and we even played football whenever characters would do so on screen. 

However, the most interesting part of “The Room” screening was Wiseau’s presence. Before the film started, attendees had time to buy souvenirs ranging from posters, DVDs, the printed version of the script and even exclusive Tommy Wiseau-brand underwear. Wiseau stood at the end of the souvenir kiosk taking pictures with the visitors and chatting. “I love you, Tommy,” shouted someone from the crowd, to which Wiseau replied, “I love you more.” 

Cooper Wilson, Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) ’23, was very excited about seeing Wiseau in person. When asked why, he said, “Just look at this guy — he has such a mysterious aura.” 

Wilson then recalled a scene early in the film, when a 16-year-old boy walks into a bedroom, sees the main film couple playing with pillows in bed and says, “I just like watching you guys.” Wilson laughed again and then asked, “How could anyone sane write something so absurd? I just love it so much.”

Kevin Stoll, FCLC ’22, is another admirer of “The Room.” He couldn’t attend the screening, but I decided to get him a copy of the film’s script as a gift and asked Wiseau to sign it to Stoll’s name. 

When I gave the gift to Stoll, he started crying. When asked why would he cry about getting a script to a bad movie, he replied, “This script is simply magical; it’s genius writing. It’s really beyond the definitions of bad, good or evil.” 

But what exactly is there in the script that puts it beyond good and evil? Ethan McNamara, FCLC ’23, who is such a huge fan of Wiseau that he went as Johnny on Halloween, said, “It just seems like there’s a soul to it. This film is filled with life.” 

“Think of all the little details in the script,” he said on the way back from the screening. “Why do you think it’s a thing to count whenever Mark says that he’s Johnny’s best friend? Because even after he says that for a sixth or seventh time, he still keeps sleeping with Lisa. These are just words; they mean nothing. And if Lisa would just love Johnny, none of it would have happened. But she doesn’t, no matter how hard he loves her.” 

All these students noticed that there is something in Wiseau’s writing that makes audiences empathize with him. There is depth to the character of Lisa, who cheats on her husband no matter how hard he tries to impress her. There’s Mark, who says one thing and does another. There’s Johnny, who loves this world, but everyone betrays him. There’s Denny, who is young and just learning about love. But how can anyone seriously perceive a 16-year-old character when his actor is 26? 

There is however still hope to see a strong and dramatic performance of “The Room.” At the end of the event’s question and answer session, Wiseau announced that “The Room” is coming to Broadway. I can only hope that the director will aim at exploring the strong parts of this very sincere script.

COURTESY OF LEV YAKOVLEV