The Disaster Artist may have shone a light on the enigma that is filmmaker Tommy Wiseau but there was a lot about him that did not make it to the big screen. The film adaptation used Greg Sestero and Tom Bistell’s book of the same name as its primary influence, but James Franco and screenwriters Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber omitted a number of details.
This may well have been done to streamline the narrative; most book-to-film adaptations tailor the story to fit within a cinematic time frame and the writers had a lot of material from the 268 page book to work with. So, here’s a list of facts and stories concerning the enigmatic Tommy and The Room the Oscar-nominated movie chose not to include.
1. Tommy’s Origins
The Disaster Artist does not delve deep into the past of its lead protagonist, unlike Greg Sestero does in the book. Greg relates stories that Tommy told him about a young boy called Pierre which he interpreted to be actually about his friend, whose middle name is the same. Pierre grew up in the Eastern Bloc and fell in love with cinema after seeing 101 Dalmatians. The young boy fled to France and began working as a dishwasher, but after a terrifying confrontation with police he contacted family in Louisiana and managed to secure transport to the States.
While Tommy says he’s from America, and in the movie specifically from New Orleans, the 2016 documentary Room Full of Spoons claims he is actually Polish and born in the city of Poznań.
2. Rebel Without A Cause wasn’t the only film they bonded over
The Disaster Artist really plays up Greg and Tommy’s love of James Dean, even having them visit the site where the actor died, but it fails to acknowledge another film close to their hearts: The Talented Mr. Ripley.
In the book, Greg said they watched the Matt Damon-led film in January 2000 and felt that the relationship between Tom Ripley and Dickie Greenleaf was much like their own; however, it had garnered a much more life-changing reaction out of Tommy. It was after they watched the film that Wiseau decided to make his own movie unlike in the film, which suggests a comment by Greg inspires his friend to start writing.
3. People thought Tommy raised the $6 million budget through money laundering
The movie doesn’t go deep into how Tommy made his money, let alone enough to fund an entire film. Wiseau claims he made his fortune from selling denim and leather jackets via the clothing brand Street Fashions USA, but according to Greg many people thought he actually achieved this through criminal means.
Greg himself couldn’t understand how Tommy managed to make so much money in a short space of time, but didn’t truly believe his friend was laundering money for the mob. To this day we still don’t know.
4. Tommy hired an actor to play Mark but was too scared to fire him
Greg didn’t originally want to play the character of Mark, but was pestered so relentlessly by Tommy that a week before shooting began on The Room he agreed. There was a slight hitch, though, as Tommy had already cast an actor called Don in the role, and instead of just firing him he got them both to shoot the same scenes. Tommy tried to pretend to Don that Mark was only getting footage for a screen test when in fact his plan was too shoot Greg on 35mm film and Don on HD (as he decided to use both types of cameras) then delete Don’s footage.
Of course Don found out and left the production allowing Greg to take on the role of Mark completely. Lucky Greg.
5. There was another Michelle too
Don’s girlfriend Brianna was also hired to be in the film as Michelle (a.k.a. Chocolate Girl), but when he found out about the whole double Mark role-playing scheme she quit the project too. Tommy then hired Robyn Paris to play the character. The Room was Robyn’s first and last movie, but she did end up making a web series called The Room Actors: Where Are They Now? 13 years later.
- The Room (2003) release date: Jun 27, 2003
- The Disaster Artist (2017) release date: Dec 08, 2017