What is it like to create a movie often referred to as the best worst film ever made? Originally released in one theater in 2003, The Room was written and directed by Tommy Wiseau, who funded the project; he also starred as tortured soul Johnny alongside real-life best friend Greg Sestero. The movie is a strangely entertaining comedy (although the laughs are mostly unintentional) that has improbably driven crowds to midnight screenings around the world for over a decade.

The film’s already-unlikely trajectory took an even more unlikely turn this year with the release of The Disaster Artist, recounting the insane, mishap-laden and somehow inspirational making of The Room. Director-star James Franco has earned a Golden Globe nomination ahead of Sunday’s ceremony for his portrayal of Wiseau, a role Franco plays with uncanny resemblance, baffling accent and all.

“First of all, we don’t call sex scene. We call love scene. But it’s OK. You can say whatever you want.”

Playboy spoke with Wiseau, who said Franco’s film “was so accurate that it really shocked me a little bit.” Our conversation presages yet another unexpected turn of events: The Room is finally landing a wide theatrical release, albeit for a single day. On January 10, Fathom Events will bring the cult classic back into 600 movie theaters nationwide, giving a whole new group of theater employees the chance to sweep up oodles of plastic spoons.

Here, Wiseau discusses his infamous and cringeworthy sex scene, what The Disaster Artist got wrong and whether Franco is following through with his plan to bring Wiseau to the Golden Globes.


Why did you agree to let James Franco make a movie about you?
Originally, he optioned the book–Greg’s book, The Disaster Artist–and then he approached me. He said he wanted to play me. We had a conversation, and the rest is the history.

Did you have any approval over the film?
Yeah. Some of the clips, for example. The footage he used. As well as the script. They gave me a script, and I suggested something with the script. We gave him a lot of materials, on which he based the facts. Basically, what you see in The Disaster Artist is what transpired. The production of The Room, the friendship of Greg, etc., etc.

“I don’t want to praise [James Franco] too much, but fact’s a fact that he transformed himself into my personality.”

So how true would you say the movie is?
I say it’s true, 99.9 percent.

How did you end up with the cameo in the post-credits scene?
It was my idea. It was surreal. It was good and bad at the same time. Not bad, but it was different, let’s put it that way. I said, “I should be part of it because it’s, if you’re playing me, I’d like to be part of the movie.”

How did feel to play opposite James Franco while he was dressed as you?
It was strange. Absolutely. It was funny and strange at the same time because you see your own reflection, you know what I mean?

Do you think he looks and sounds like you?
I think he imitates me well. And I think he’s good actor. I don’t want to praise him too much, but fact’s a fact that he transformed himself into my personality. I think he did good job. He took a lot of risk, if you look objectively to his project to do what he did. To make the movie about that movie. I never considered The Room as a bad movie in the first place. That’s what the people are considering it.

You don’t agree with them?
People started calling it that at that time. It was just a statement from a few people and then, like they say, “Monkey see, monkey do"—everybody come out with this idea of "bad movie, bad movie.” They don’t understand. But I really don’t care what they think anyway. I want to think that The Room gives joy to people. That’s the main thing. Plus, right now we’re screening worldwide. We’re screening all over the world. It gives joy to people, and they think differently about the world and have fun. That’s the idea behind The Room.

Some people don’t give me credit after all these years of screening The Room. But this is their loss. It’s not my loss. The funny thing is that nobody want to support The Room, and now after 10 or 15 years, they say, “We are supporting your project now.” That’s what you can analyze with human behavior about how people are. I’m just laughing. The Room was successful almost from the beginning, but some people wanted to bash it. James doesn’t bash it or the creator of The Room, but he presents it slightly differently. Anyway–what we have next?

“I try my best, you know? It’s funny how people expect you to be No. 1 from the beginning.”

Is it true that you directed the sex scene in The Room while almost entirely naked?
First of all, we don’t call sex scene. We call love scene. But it’s OK. You can say whatever you want. And the second, all the stuff was very difficult to accomplish. I was very respectful toward actors, especially [co-star] Juliette [Danielle]. So I tried to have a production that was powerful. When you watch the behind-the-scenes of The Room on the Blu-ray or DVD or whatever, some of the stuff did transpire the way it did in The Disaster Artist.

What was your favorite part about making The Room?
I liked the creative process. I had a few arguments with the crew. And by the way, we did not change the crew two or three times—we changed the crew four times. I want to put that on the record. I’m trying to put in stuff to correct what people say that are incorrect statements. Anyway, the challenging stuff, for example, was having two cameras. People said, “Oh, you cannot.” And I said, “Why you saying we cannot do it? We are doing it.” That was really challenging because it was my first project–number one. Number two, some of the stuff was new for me because I had never done it. I try my best, you know? It’s funny how people expect you to be No. 1 from the beginning.

Is it exciting for you that The Room will be back in theaters after all this time?
This is the big event we have on January 10. But keep in mind that we’ve screened The Room for the past 14 years around the world. We are screening in regular theaters. But this time, on January 10, we have 600 theaters across the country in U.S. to screen The Room. To those theaters, I say, “Do you want empty seats, or do you want to let people see The Room?” The idea is that they don’t want to have empty seats. They want to have people be seeing The Room. I’m very pleased we can do that.

How did you feel when The Disaster Artist was nominated for the Golden Globes?
I congratulated [James]. I was surprised and not surprised. I didn’t say I thought he would get it, but I submitted The Room to Golden Globe Awards. I know how the procedure works. I think they recognized what he did. This is not with special effects. This is not 100 people working on special effects or some green screen. This is real world. This is a story about how I come to America and be successful, etc., etc. People don’t realize the hard work. Nothing happens by accident, like some people claim. So to respond to your question about Golden Globe Awards, I was very pleased they recognized what The Disaster Artist is about. We’ll see what happens Sunday.

Are you going?
I am not sure. People ask me this! I don’t know if I’m going. I’m just simple guy. We’ll see.

You’ve talked a lot about the American Dream in the past. What does that idea mean to you?
American Dream is something which you want, and which it doesn’t mean you receive. I always believe in hard work. You have to be realistic in what you want to accomplish, you as a person, whatever you want to do. It’s whatever dream will come out to your real life. You can create your dream in real life. That’s what this means to me. I also believe in destiny. Destiny and dreams come side-by-side. You can’t think somebody will give it to you or society will give it to you. We always want something. That’s human behavior. That’s what drives us to live in the first place.

What advice would you give to a new filmmaker?
Respect equals success. Whatever you do–it could be filmmaking, you could be a lawyer, what you do in life–you have to be respectful towards what you want. If you want to be filmmaker, it’s hard. The art of the film is extremely difficult. It not only involves your vision, which is very important. You need a vision. If you don’t have a vision, I don’t think you’ll be filmmaker, OK? It’s hard work and ambition, as well as original material–that’s what I believe. Hard work, and think positive. You have to be optimistic.

When will your next project come out?
I believe you will hear soon in January. Everything is happening in January. This year is crazy year. The movie is Best F(r)iends. They will announce the festivals soon. We will see what direction we will go. But I think people will like it because it’s something different. I just star. I was hired as an actor. I’m not directing. We’ll see what you guys think about it.

I also want to ask about your website, where you sell Tommy Wiseau merchandise. What inspired that?
I do a lot of stuff. I really enjoy to design stuff. Especially when people like it. I design underwear, for example. I specialize in underwear. And the other stuff is T-shirts and jackets. I have a nicely designed jacket we call “Eight-Pocket Jacket.” I like to create something. It’s really detailed-oriented. I learned this a long, long time ago.