Five Favorite Films

Tommy Wiseau's Five Favorite Films

by | December 7, 2017 | Comments

(Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images)

If, like us, you’ve spent any time around film nerds and cult movie buffs in the past decade and a half, you’ve likely heard about a little gem known as The Room. A true independent film in almost every sense, the romantic drama was the passion project of a single man, Tommy Wiseau, who wrote, directed, financed, and starred in the film.

Aside from a number of, let’s say, unusual directorial choices, The Room also features a collection of largely inexperienced actors, perplexing green screen usage, dangling plot points, and a curious obsession with American football. It’s also a supremely earnest creation, which is part of the reason why it’s earned such a feverish following and spawned regular midnight screenings across the country.

As it happens, both James Franco and Seth Rogen count themselves among The Room‘s fans, and they recently joined forces to adapt The Disaster Artist, a memoir about the making of the film written by one of its co-stars, Greg Sestero. With the Certified Fresh The Disaster Artist expanding into wide release this week, we spoke to Wiseau about his Five Favorite Films, what it was like to see Franco’s portrayal of him on the big screen, and what the legacy of The Room means to him.


Citizen Kane (1941) 99%

The first one will be Citizen Kane. Orson Welles.

Giant (1956) 88%

The second will be Giant with James Dean.

Sonny (2002) 22%

You’d be surprised but, again, I put in parentheses, I’m not here to praise James [Franco]. Okay? But the reason I support his role, because we didn’t have a choice at the time. We picked him because originally… I don’t know if you knew the story here that The Disaster Artist is based on the great storybook Disaster Artist, right? And he basically optioned the book, optioned to produce the movie. But people ask me who are supposed to… Who would I like? Who’s supposed to play me? I don’t know if you heard about it, but long story short, I say Johnny Depp.

But we had a conversation with James, and with Greg [Sestero]. And Greg, long story short, he said, “What about James?” I said, “Yeah, he’s good, because I like his movie Sonny.” Sonny is the movie directed by Nicolas Cage. I don’t know if you’re familiar with it or not. It’s about gigolo in New Orleans, Louisiana, etc.

So we had a conversation with James, and Greg says, “Sure, whatever. James playing you.” I said, “That’s good idea, because he did the movie Sonny, and which, I like it.” And for some reason, the critics think differently, or public, whatever. But this is relate to my life as well, The Room, basically. Because you have all the flavors. So that’s basically your little quirky backstory.

Casablanca (1942) 99%

Casablanca. You see, Casablanca remind me what we have within The Room, some of the phrases. For example, I say, “Oh, you make my day,” or, “You are tearing me apart,” or whatever. I’m talking about the other movie as well, just paraphrasing some of those phrases. You see, The Room, people never give us credit, okay? And now everything turn around because people now, and especially the critic, which can be very tough as you probably… Including your company.

But, again, let me explain something here. Hopefully you guys print this. Please don’t misquote me, but it’s nothing wrong to criticize anyone, included film, play, whatever. But it is wrong when people started doing not just a critique but get into sort of hatred mode. You know what I’m saying? So I think it’s very important to understand the structure what I present, related to The Room now, I presented 14 years ago, based on my vision, which people did not expect it, this kind of vision, because it was, basically, it was different cookie cutter from Hollywood. I said this many times, but as you know, I’ve been ignored but fans embrace that.

A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) 97%

A Streetcar Named Desire with Marlon Brando. I just want to put there. All these movies that I’ve listed, including Casablanca, you have flavors, which I like it. Drama. Comedy. And again, we may argue back and forth about what is drama, what is a comedy, right? What is melodrama? The Room never did melodrama.

The thing what I listed all the movies, they’re not melodrama, they are relate to real life. Streetcar Named Desire, for example, you have, my understanding was, the time the movie was made, the main characters, Brando and… He actually raped the girl. And they cut this on the movie. That’s my understanding, that it was part of the script. So this is again saying that Streetcar Named Desire give us some evidence that people were still cautious what we present in the big screen that certain ideas or situation between two people, you cannot do it.

Today’s society, as you know, we go extra miles. The Room is perfect example. We show the nudity, we show the certain stuff, because I myself, I was struggling as a filmmaker, as a director, how I present the scene. Same, you see, if you look at Casablanca, a relationship between two main characters, how they, you see… I love it, black and white movies. Sometimes you can educate yourself that you don’t have to physically show it, sexuality, but it’s there because you can feel it.

Now, just because of our culture, I decided to say, “Hey, we go extra miles.” And I was struggling with this. You see, I had talked to Greg. I don’t know if he remembered but I said, “Hey, okay, is it Johnny naked or not?” I said — and I was so frustrated — and I say, “Hell with everything because I don’t know how… I want to be real as much I can.”

Even though people say… Remember, The Room, and is again, The Room is supposed to be play. People forget that; they are short-handed. [laughs] I don’t want to be too negative, but that’s the history of The Room. So I will say, originally I was supposed to… I wanted to put into play, but it didn’t come out right. Actually it come out better because more people can see it. That’s basically what happen.


Ryan Fujitani for Rotten Tomatoes: My understanding is that the South by Southwest premiere of The Disaster Artist was the first time you saw the movie.

Tommy Wiseau: That’s correct.

RT: As you sat there and watched it, what was your initial gut response to it? What was the first thought you had?

Wiseau: I just breathe very heavily. As you know, they talked to me after the show, “Did you like it?” They don’t understand that — again, you may write this — that it’s a setback in my relationship with myself in the sense what I saw. And it shocked me because, actually, I approve 99 percent. Not just as a person named Tommy Wiseau — I approve because he did good job. I’ll be honest with you.

It was very emotional for me. You see, even now it’s very emotional, as you see in my voice. You can feel it — I don’t know if you can feel it or not. But it was emotional. It still is, because he tackled something what, as I mentioned, relate to Casablanca and others. It just too bad he didn’t go forward with some of the emotional feelings, which we tackle, especially at the end of the movie, the time when Greg says, the character, he say, I’m paraphrasing, “Everything is fine. They’re laughing because they love your movie.”

RT: Speaking of the end of the movie, I read that in the original ending, you and Greg parted ways on bad terms, but then James Franco saw that you guys were still close, so he changed the film to end on a more positive note. Is that true?

Wiseau: We never did. They did good job because we never… We always been friends, even though, as you know, he wrote the book and I support not as I supposed to support. I don’t even put the numbers now because everybody quoting me later. But it is what it is. I think Greg and me and others, we even sometimes trapped in Hollywood dilemma and situation what we feel that is right to say something stop and it’s too late to turn around.

But you can always correct, you know? I mean, as you know, I did the movie with Greg, Best F(r)iends. And also I’m working on the sitcom The Neighbors, the season two. So we’ve been very successful in past 14 years. Some of the stuff, it’s coming to my way in a sense as a director and actor. So I like it.

RT: You succeeded in making a film and continuing to work on projects completely outside the Hollywood system, and you did it all your way. With your experiences, what piece of advice would you give to aspiring filmmakers who are trying to get their own movies made?

Wiseau: I would say the same thing what one of the biggest directors said to me, and I don’t want to name the name, but it’s the biggest of the biggest. He’s still alive. Just keep going. They say keep going. And I will add something else. All negative, let them go. So don’t get involved negativeness, because film industry is very complex field, in the sense that you need a passion. If you don’t have a passion, try not to steal other projects. As you probably noticed, perfect example is The Room. You can see on YouTube and other platform, people just steal stuff from The Room, including actors.

I’m going to mention one of the scene from The Disaster Artist. One of the scene, you may watch, the time when you see it, is my character — I mean James playing me — he confront the crew, the actors, and say, “Hey, I know what you say about me.” And then, guess what? This is what exactly happened, 100 percent. And I was very frustrated, but in the beginning I was making fun of them because I say, “Haha.” You know, it’s like little kids. I say, “I got you. I know what you talk about me,” you know? And I never said this for 14 years. Can you imagine that one?

And since they released this movie, I say it now very openly, because, still today, some of my actors — I’m not mention the name — they still that negative. For example, they say, “Oh, script did not exist. This is happened by accident.” They have no clue about industry whatsoever. And so we can go on and write a book about it, all this stuff, but watch the scene. It’s very good scene.

And one other thing with another advice I can give to filmmakers that, the main thing, think positive, and also have respect for others. And that’s the thing what we all lack of in the industry. As you know, current affairs, etc. And so if you have respect for your… Because of some of the area, when you do your art, is collective work. So I myself, people don’t understand, I have assistants, four or five assistant. People say, “Well, how many assistant do you have?” I say to myself, “Hey, I can use two more.” And all this people are extremely important. In this case, Greg, because he was keep going and he didn’t badmouth me — that’s the good news — except in the book. [laughs]

But on the end, everything turned out the way I think it’s supposed to be. I don’t know what the formula is, but to be a good filmmaker [you have to] have respect for others. And have a vision, you know? Like I always say, if you don’t have a vision, you cannot be a director, as well actors.

So, basically, all this advice what I mentioned — passion, respect for others, and have vision — it make you good filmmaker. That’s my take. That’s my advice. Pretty long advice. [laughs]

RT: Thanks for your time, Tommy. Really appreciate it.

Wiseau: We’ll see you at the screening of The Room. And I want to say to all the fans of The Room, have fun with The Room. And I always say, you can laugh, you can cry, you can express yourself. Please don’t hurt each other. Thank you.

RT: Thank you, Tommy.

Wiseau: Don’t misquote me.

RT: Oh, don’t worry. We never do.

Wiseau: [laughs] I know you guys. I’m just teasing.


The Disaster Artist is Certified Fresh and expands into wide release this Friday, December 8. Read reviews for it here.

Tag Cloud

slasher BBC Crackle sequel 72 Emmy Awards boxoffice Heroines what to watch 20th Century Fox Disney+ Disney Plus hidden camera CBS Reality Mudbound OWN live event kids Amazon Prime Video anthology TCA TruTV comic books die hard Thanksgiving dc cars Mystery RT History Universal festival WarnerMedia suspense TV technology thriller Image Comics Video Games South by Southwest Film Festival 1990s blaxploitation Amazon king arthur comics The Witch Adult Swim book adaptation crime thriller 2019 Election werewolf reboot Film Festival dexter comic book movies independent Martial Arts documentary BBC One Superheroes Kids & Family movies Britbox worst USA Rom-Com TV renewals Rocky Emmys Country Marvel miniseries blockbusters 007 Spring TV Pacific Islander NBC Sundance TV Trivia Extras CNN Academy Awards spider-man teaser Food Network parents Pet Sematary IFC Films First Look PBS based on movie Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Nat Geo New York Comic Con superman stand-up comedy science fiction OneApp HBO Max rotten USA Network psycho Teen LGBT award winner cops Mary Tyler Moore foreign Funimation MGM marvel cinematic universe Freeform Legendary mutant CBS All Access diversity ITV news 2020 Sneak Peek Hallmark mob french Fargo debate streaming Best Picture italian 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards Year in Review YouTube Premium dreamworks Paramount Box Office Amazon Studios Avengers Certified Fresh screenings TNT Western toronto VH1 Esquire Valentine's Day facebook hist movie joker Podcast saw Hallmark Christmas movies satire a nightmare on elm street Best Actress quibi Crunchyroll boxing Summer Cosplay CMT rom-coms wonder woman Television Critics Association ABC 71st Emmy Awards 2015 scary football ESPN 2021 Best Director Disney strong female leads Oscars Television Academy Lionsgate adaptation Comedy Central romantic comedy Comic Book reviews Acorn TV Photos adenture spy thriller Animation live action spinoff justice league canceled TV shows toy story Neflix comiccon docudrama Pop TV best films The Arrangement basketball Winners dceu indiana jones james bond crossover PlayStation black comedy WGN franchise Apple Dark Horse Comics japanese TV One batman Anna Paquin revenge indie 2016 game of thrones Pixar concert FX on Hulu richard e. Grant Warner Bros. royal family NYCC 94th Oscars First Reviews prank The Purge free movies marvel comics mcc genre transformers new york The Walking Dead Starz Super Bowl war Rock Hollywood Foreign Press Association stop motion space Musicals ratings true crime superhero Rocketman Pride Month Oscar Countdown Syfy animated Best and Worst Infographic Comics on TV kaiju Quiz History 2018 black Tags: Comedy Trophy Talk Mary poppins Paramount Plus Black History Month composers Mary Poppins Returns women Netflix Christmas GIFs Pop HFPA Toys Marvel Television dogs spanish language streamig Mindy Kaling NBA Disney streaming service DC Universe YouTube Red TCA Winter 2020 Tomatazos travel Star Wars action-comedy VICE Grammys theme song Masterpiece king kong dragons Netflix Christmas movies BET Awards The Walt Disney Company Elton John south america Opinion ghosts Ghostbusters Musical Holiday RT21 Sony Pictures dark singing competition Showtime nature LGBTQ venice Paramount Network Action rt labs E3 Black Mirror DGA children's TV new zealand Spectrum Originals Reality Competition Writers Guild of America classics leaderboard FOX HBO trailers anime deadpool AMC Prime Video cooking name the review Watching Series remakes FX emmy awards sopranos new star wars movies ViacomCBS Bravo obi wan Nominations universal monsters critic resources rotten movies we love worst movies Vudu Pirates political drama international 2017 jurassic park halloween tv spider-verse HBO Go IFC Marvel Studios Tumblr aapi screen actors guild hispanic pirates of the caribbean Classic Film sequels Instagram Live Turner festivals vampires elevated horror serial killer TV Land game show archives documentaries Song of Ice and Fire President Hear Us Out Tubi National Geographic Fox News christmas movies jamie lee curtis renewed TV shows fast and furious Music summer TV preview Schedule Captain marvel 79th Golden Globes Awards PaleyFest BBC America Nickelodeon Drama Awards golden globe awards Ellie Kemper VOD 21st Century Fox The CW X-Men video on demand TCM Fantasy popular Disney Plus summer TV Set visit Logo YouTube 99% golden globes cults young adult biography Spike robots obituary binge TCA Awards 93rd Oscars TLC Red Carpet CW Seed docuseries discovery SXSW halloween Amazon Prime IMDb TV slashers ID FXX adventure telelvision blockbuster Biopics historical drama Epix 90s monster movies Horror series Chilling Adventures of Sabrina rt archives Marathons 4/20 San Diego Comic-Con high school SDCC japan crime Hulu cinemax TBS twilight witnail streaming movies godzilla summer preview unscripted laika Superheroe SXSW 2022 ABC Family Ovation A24 finale breaking bad Discovery Channel all-time sports versus romance television vs. cancelled Lifetime Christmas movies Sundance spanish Alien feel good Stephen King casting DC streaming service art house target Best Actor talk show 45 nfl The Academy heist movie cancelled TV shows BAFTA Turner Classic Movies dramedy stoner sag awards scary movies zombies Women's History Month TV movies rt labs critics edition Star Trek criterion period drama El Rey Binge Guide TCA 2017 australia Wes Anderson cancelled TV series YA Tokyo Olympics Calendar Arrowverse psychological thriller video doctor who Trailer E! Sci-Fi cancelled television Exclusive Video critics book asian-american olympics Lucasfilm Lifetime DirecTV 24 frames Fox Searchlight scene in color zero dark thirty ABC Signature DC Comics Peacock Awards Tour green book Film spain Walt Disney Pictures natural history supernatural MTV Shondaland police drama canceled Fall TV Family Sundance Now Disney Channel Winter TV medical drama Chernobyl biopic gangster SundanceTV nbcuniversal GoT sitcom MSNBC legend Tarantino Premiere Dates hollywood latino Shudder comedies disaster chucky Comic-Con@Home 2021 Apple TV Plus mockumentary aliens directors Travel Channel Broadway Creative Arts Emmys See It Skip It Columbia Pictures social media MCU Baby Yoda Comedy Apple TV+ American Society of Cinematographers scorecard tv talk zombie razzies cartoon lord of the rings A&E kong TIFF crime drama cats mission: impossible trophy Polls and Games Cartoon Network fresh APB Endgame child's play comic book movie GLAAD Cannes Universal Pictures know your critic harry potter hispanic heritage month posters politics 73rd Emmy Awards Emmy Nominations BET comic AMC Plus Character Guide Interview Brie Larson Holidays