There’s truly something to be said about a movie that’s so bad, it loops around to good, and it becomes an unintentional classic. But for a movie to become such a cult classic that James Franco makes a film about it fourteen years after its release — that honor can only go to The Room, the 2003 cult flick that inspired this year’s awards season favorite The Disaster Artist.
In a truly meta twist, Franco took home a 2018 Golden Globe Sunday night for best film actor in a musical or comedy for his portrayal of Tommy Wiseau in The Disaster Artist, bringing the real Tommy Wiseau on stage with him as he accepted his award.
But who is Tommy Wiseau, the eccentric director portrayed by Franco in The Disaster Artist? Turns out, fans and reporters alike have been trying to figure out who he really is ever since his debut movie became an unlikely fan favorite upon its release in 2003.
It’s believed that Wiseau grew up living in Louisiana, although he recently told Jimmy Kimmel that he was “originally from Europe,” identifying himself as an American. Wiseau is equally vague about his age, and it seems he prefers it this way, coyly dodging the question when Kimmel quipped that he was 36 or 37; Wiseau’s IMDB page lists him as 62 years old, so take that as you will.
But in 2001, he reportedly came to Hollywood with dreams of becoming a filmmaker and an actor. And thus, a star was inadvertently born. According to People, Wiseau spent $6 million of his own money to create his debut film, The Room, pouring his heart and soul into a movie that — quite literally — became a disaster.
The Room has widely been considered one of the worst movies of all time, developing a cult following of rabid fans who are obsessed with its unintentional brand of humor.
Wiseau has gone on to direct, produce, and star in assorted documentaries, films, and TV shows, but he’ll forever remain in the hearts of film lovers thanks to his zany, boisterous personality and life story shrouded in mystery, all thanks to the little movie that could, The Room.
And now Tommy Wiseau is back in the cultural zeitgeist yet again, all thanks to Franco’s big movie about the little movie that could. So if you haven’t caught the The Disaster Artist yet, we highly recommend you check your local showtimes and settle in with a bucket of popcorn.