Against all odds, The Room has become one of the most important movies in recent memory. The product of the singular vision of its writer/director/star Tommy Wiseau, The Room was derided by critics and shunned by the general public upon its release in June 2003. However, the film quickly developed a cult following for its outlandish sensibilities, unusual creative choices, and audacious storyline, all buoyed by an unrelenting sincerity and commitment.
The Room eventually reached a mythical status, something that must be seen to be truly believed. It took the long road to stardom, but The Room became a hit, and its star, Tommy Wiseau, became a household name... Well, in some houses. A large part of The Room's success can be credited to co-star Greg Sestero, who went on to write the book, The Disaster Artist, which would later be adapted into an Oscar-nominated film.
Sixteen years after the unlikely success of The Room, Tommy and Greg are still working together on different projects, from the Sestero-penned Best F(r)iends to a new animated pilot, SpaceWorld, created by Brock LaBorde. After previously working with Wiseau on The House That Drips Blood on Alex and The Tommy Wi-Show, LaBorde now has the opportunity to work with Tommy and Greg together, in an original science fiction story which takes some inspiration from the real life adventures of its two biggest stars.
While promoting SpaceWorld, Tommy Wiseau, Greg Sestero, and series creator Brock LaBorde spoke to Screen Rant about the series, as well as the enduring legacy of The Room. Tommy shares some of his philosophies on life and creating art, and Greg gives a shout-out to one of his more lesser-known film appearances.
Was SpaceWorld developed specifically with Greg and Tommy in mind?
Brock: Originally, we all agreed to work together on an animated show, but it was a completely different show, at first. Once we landed upon what this would be about, and that it would be Tommy and Greg... It's its own unique universe, set outside of Earth or anything, so we really didn't want Tommy and Greg playing themselves. Tommy's character, TX, is definitely the most human-like character in the show. And SpaceWorld will have its own big, overarching story, but throughout, we want to sprinkle in a lot of Tommy and Greg's real life adventures that they've had. We want to translate those into SpaceWorld and have those fun little moments throughout.
Tommy: As you know, animation is completely different from sitcom or feature movie. A lot of people don't realize, for voice-over, you have to adjust accordingly. Not just the script, but also, you know, the situation. You have to have vision, you have to have a lot of stuff. I always say, "if you're a director or an actor, if you don't have vision, then forget the whole thing." Because what happens? Maybe you have some difficulty to understand the character if they're only one page, a couple of sentences, and you have to come up with some ideas.
When you have these moments where you can see the parallels, is that something you welcome and appreciate, or do you get nervous when you see something based on your life?
Tommy: Wait a minute, man. What's your name?
Tommy: Zak, why you go so negative?
Tommy: Wait a minute, wait a minute, let me finish my sentence, can I?Of course.Tommy: Okay. So why you started so negative? Your question should be, "how you get to preparation for to do voice-over," no? What I have to do, you tell me! How long you been doing reporting, I'd like to know this question. Can you answer my question?
How long have I been recording?
Tommy: No, reporting.
Oh, reporting! A couple of years now.
Tommy: Okay, I think you know more over two years for to say that. Why cut people down, just like that right now?
Oh, Tommy! No--
Tommy: No, no, no. Let me finish, man, you know I've been doing this for a while, okay, and I will not allow this kind of question. Your question should be, "what do you do as an actor," okay? We have no problems as an actor. You get a script, right? You know about it? That's how preparation works. You get a script from director. You prepare the character, and you go in the direction they give you with your imagination. So what's your question?
...Well, kind of related to that, uh, I have this one. So, the series is a wacky comedy, but the character has elements of you written into it--
Tommy: You may say that. It's not a wacky character whatsoever, but you may say that. If your question is, "Is it a wacky character?" The answer is no. TX is based on certain events. That's my answer.
Tommy: In this interview, I will stop you right now, because if you try to put somebody down, you will not succeed at this, I just let you know about this, okay?
Tommy: Okay. So move on to next question. Ask Greg question. You'll find out, Zak, I don't have time for your politics, et cetera. I'm sorry to say that, but I stop you right now. We talk about SpaceWorld. It's new project, exciting project. Nothing to do with The Room. But if you want to ask questions about the room, that's fine with me. It's not a big deal.
Fair enough! You and Greg have become one of the iconic duos of this century. Do you feel like the two of you are always going to be making projects together? How do you fuel each other creatively?
Tommy: If you're asking me, my answer is, you know what? We are actors. If somebody gives me job tomorrow, I will do your project. If it's a legit project, I can do any project in the world. But sometimes we do have a... You're right; sometimes I like to work with Greg. Definitely, we have something in common, you know? We met in acting class, and apparently, people enjoy what they see. I don't know if they will enjoy this one, but hopefully they will. Greg can respond to your question now.
Greg: It's been an interesting journey. Tommy and I are very similar in a lot of ways, and very different, and I think that always makes for a compelling duo. With SpaceWorld, it's an original concept, and I think things come out from our lives in the story, or they help the story. I think that's cool, as long as you're not plugging in stuff just for the sake of plugging in similarities. What I enjoy about working with Tommy is that each project has been a totally different experience. The Room was totally different, The Disaster Artist is very different, Best F(r)iends is different, and now SpaceWorld is different. With Tommy, you never know what you're gonna get, and it's always unpredictable in a good way.
Tommy, you've done so many questions that aren't The Room. Do you have any project that you're particularly proud of, but you feel maybe didn't get the love and attention it deserved?
Tommy: I just want to say, many TV stations missed the ball when we started doing The Neighbors, the sitcom that I did. And, actually, a few people copied The Neighbors, you know? But, you see, I am a very positive person, so... The Room is The Room, I am very proud of it, and I am proud of whatever I'm doing. I'm working on new project right now. Big Shark, I don't know if you've heard of that, but you can see the trailer. Hopefully we will talk to you, reach out to you at the time when we start releasing, like we do now, and... Or you reach out to us, actually, ha-ha. Again, I love the creative process. Whatever project I have. That's my take on your question.
Greg: You know, I've been... I don't know if you want to call it "lucky," but it seems like anything that I've done to this point has found a weird place. I did a horror movie called Retro Puppet Master, which had a really crazy audience that has kind of continued. The Room kind of speaks for itself. Well, I did do a movie called Dude Bro Party Massacre III, which was a very strange thing, if you like comedy/horror. But luckily, for the most part, everything I've been part of has generally found an audience, which is cool, and I hope to continue to be part of things that people like.
Brock: I would say, I made a TV pilot called The House That Drips Blood on Alex with Tommy for Comedy Central a few years ago. Then we did a season of the Tommy Wi-Show that was online. That one is the most similar to SpaceWorld, because it was kind of a sci-fi video game review show with Tommy and aliens. If you're a fan of either of those projects, then SpaceWorld will hopefully have the same kind of quirky humor we had in those projects.
There's so many movies and pilots that are produced and then never released. It breaks my heart because there's so much programming out there that we never get to see, but there's a whole other realm of art that never even gets released. There's so much lost content!
Brock: With The House That Drips Blood on Alex, we did that for Comedy Central; they premiered it at Comic-Con in front of a sold out room of, like, 800 people who loved it. Then, they proceeded to release on, like, Halloween night at 3:00 AM. So, not many people saw it. But it's online. People can find it. But it's weird that companies will put all this effort and money into things and then flush it down the toilet. Oh well, it was a learning experience and it established a good working relationship for us.
Tommy, you've achieved a mythical status. You're pretty universally beloved. But you're mysterious. You don't really go out and talk about your life. You have a mystique about you. People fill in the blanks, which only makes your legend larger. Do you ever read stuff online and go, "Oh, that's not true." Do you ever feel the need to clear the air and make the truth known, or do you like the way people can believe what they want about your public persona?
Tommy: Look. Whatever people believe, they believe. I don't have the time. To be honest, I spend so little time online. Sometimes, people send you a link, and some of that stuff does not make sense. To respond to your question, I'm working on a book. Eventually, I will write a book, another book, I'll write two books. Eventually, I will say, "This is not true, this is whatever." But you know what? Let people have fun. A lot of people know who I am. And why they argue back and forth about something that doesn't make sense. They say, Tommy doesn't have any money. Tommy worth only half-million dollars, or ten dollars, or five dollars. Maybe I'm worth only one penny, what about that? Ha-ha. All this stuff. I don't want to use this word, but hatred does not pay, let's put it this way, okay? Eventually, I write a book, another book, and I'll say "this is it, this is it." In reference to The Room, you know, I give you one example. People say, "How many times did you change the crew?" We did not change one time. We did not change two times. We actually changed four times.
Tommy: Some people appreciate, some people don't. I want to be neutral. I want people to have fun.
Related to that, I feel like with all of your projects, but especially with The Room, there was a particular vision that you set out to accomplish, and you did accomplish that. I believe it's that sincerity is why this 15-year-old movie is still so popular when there's so many other movies that come out and just come and go--
Tommy: Actually, I'm sorry to interrupt you, but let me correct you a little bit here, if you don't mind.
Tommy: We actually have the 16th anniversary of The Room. We'll be celebrating with the release of animation SpaceWorld. We have the 16th anniversary today. So it's not 15. It's 16, but that's okay, minor error, it's not a big deal.
I rounded down, sorry!
Here's a question for the room. I mean, not The Room, but for everyone here. Where do you think your life would be now if you were not artists, creators, actors, directors, writers. Could you even guess as to where your life would be if you had gone in a different direction?
Greg: I think, speaking for me, it would either be sports or travel, I guess. I don't know. But telling stories has been the only thing I can think of that here, twenty years later, that I'm still as passionate about doing as I was when I was a kid.
Brock: I always wanted to be a writer and storyteller as well, but I grew up with no money in the South with no connections. If Hurricane Katrina had not made me come out to LA, maybe I would be a poultry farmer or an accountant or something right now.
Tommy: In my case, I had found my business, but then I changed my business to actor. I had retail stores, and I closed all my business and became an actor. I wrote the script and I say, "Let's produce this." I never approached big studio to actually produce it. I did my research. I say, "Hey, they will reject you, you don't want to have rejection," ha-ha. So, to respond to your question, what if I did not do The Room, I think maybe billionaire, who knows? But I definitely would be bigger developer. I used to build buildings. Steel-frame buildings. Construction. I always say for The Room, construct: if you have good foundation, what do you do? You cannot have the window without foundation, so you start doing some foundation. You make The Room, now you have big foundation. Now you have SpaceWorld. I think Brock has a good foundation, but I don't think he has all the windows. And I'm not the Santa Claus. But I'm very optimistic about life, so I think we all can... Can we live all our dreams? The answer is yes. But sometimes it's hard work. I would say for all the actors, directors, producers, you really push yourself. It's like sports. Acting is like sports. It's not just a physical thing, but mentally. But definitely, I probably would be successful like I am now. That's what I believe.
As writers, you come up with ideas, jokes. And now, I feel like I'm talking to people with singular visions right now. Do you ever come up with an idea, you think it's the best idea ever, and you test it out and nobody likes it? You tell them, "No, you just don't get it." Do you ever have to give in and let the idea go? Or do you stick to your guns?
Greg: I think, if you have an idea you're passionate about, explore it and feel your way through. I think it's important to have a close group of friends who can be honest with you, who can give you feedback, who you trust. It ultimately depends on how passionate you are about telling a story. With The Disaster Artist, initially, I think people were like, "Who's gonna wanna read a book about this movie?" So I knew there was a lot more there. Probably the same goes for Tommy. I think it just depends on how passionate you are about what you're trying to say and how far you're willing to take it.
Brock: For me, I think you have to be able to do that on a grand scale and a small scale. When you're writing something, you have to be able to cut a joke. In the SpaceWorld pilot, there was a few seconds that they actually animated, but the joke didn't work and we had to cut it out. I felt bad because people spent time animating the thing, but that's just how it goes. You don't know how things work until you're looking at them, sometimes. You've got to forgive yourself, you have to just say, it's part of the process! On the grand scale, if you make a pilot or you make a movie, and nobody reacts to it or likes it, then you can't just say, "Well, I'm terrible and I should never do this again." You just try again. There's infinite kinds of art to make. Keep trying!
Tommy: My response would be to definitely just do it and try it until you succeed. Sometimes, I don't think it's good idea to listen to your friends or family members. Everybody's so subjective and everybody will have their own five minutes of saying what they want to contribute. Later on, they come to you saying they created that, not you. Ha-ha. That's extreme, but I personally believe that you should believe in your projects. Whatever you put in the piece of paper as a writer. Writing is extremely difficult. You need the vision. A lot of people think it's very easy to write. It's not. It's very difficult, because you be very disappointed because you don't get the reaction. That's what we need. We actors or the producers, and writers, and even you as a reporter, whatever you report or write, you want a reaction. You have to use your judgment based on what people want, but sometimes your judgment might take 50 or 60 years until you hear the reactions. But I don't mind. If you sincere and original material, if you believe in yourself and you say, "Hey, you know what? After everybody's against me, but I can do it." Everybody call me names, saying I don't know how to write, but you see the world's wide open. I remember when I was driving with Greg, the wide open. We always say about James Dean, we say "Hey, we can do it." It's a strength we have within ourselves. But 99% of people don't want to believe in themselves. At the end of the day, you have to believe in yourself. If you go by this principle, I believe that you can succeed. You might succeed. But, like me, you will succeed, ha-ha.
SpaceWorld is available on the Octopie YouTube channel now.