Who is Tommy Wiseau and how did he get the money to make The Room?
Some rumors claimed the six million dollar budget came from drug sales or some weird foreign mafia connection. Others say that Wiseau is from a wealthy family. And some claim that Wiseau is a self-made man who made his fortune selling clothing and other items on street corners around the globe. How old is Tommy? Where was Tommy Born? Here are the known facts about Tommy Wiseau:
According to Wikipedia:
Wiseau is secretive about his early life. In various interviews, he has claimed to have lived in France "a long time ago"; asserted that he grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana; and described having "an entire family" in Chalmette, Louisiana. In interviews following the release of The Room in 2003, Wiseau gave an age which would indicate he was born in 1968 or 1969, but actor Greg Sestero claims in his 2013 memoir, The Disaster Artist, that his brother's girlfriend obtained copies of Wiseau's U.S. immigration papers and found that Wiseau was born "much earlier" than he claimed, in an Eastern Bloc country in the 1950s.
In his 2016 documentary, Room Full of Spoons, Rick Harper claims to have researched Wiseau's background and concluded that he is Polish and originally from the city of Poznan. Wiseau confirmed that he is "originally from Europe" in an interview on Jimmy Kimmel Live! in November 2017, also saying in an interview with the The New York Times earlier that month, "Long story short, I grew up in Europe a long time ago, but I'm American and very proud of it." In a December 2017 interview with Howard Stern, he claimed to speak French and said he is a Catholic.
In The Disaster Artist, Sestero asserts that Wiseau revealed to him—through "fantastical, sad, self-contradictory stories"—that as a young adult he moved to Strasbourg, where he adopted the name "Pierre" and worked as a restaurant dishwasher. According to Sestero, Wiseau described being wrongfully arrested following a drug raid at a youth hostel and being traumatized by his mistreatment by the French police, which led him to immigrate to the U.S. to live with his aunt and uncle in Chalmette. Sestero asserts that Wiseau subsequently moved to San Francisco, California, where he worked as a street vendor selling toys to tourists near Fisherman's Wharf. Wiseau supposedly gained the nickname "The Birdman" for his bird toys, which were only popular in Europe at the time; this led him to legally change his name when he became a U.S. citizen to Thomas Pierre Wiseau, taking the French word for "bird" (oiseau) and replacing the O with the W of his birth name.
According to Sestero, Wiseau worked a variety of jobs in the San Francisco Bay Area, including restaurant busboy and hospital worker, and ran a business called Street Fashions USA that sold irregular blue jeans at discounted prices. He eventually purchased and rented out large retail spaces in and around San Francisco and Los Angeles, making him independently wealthy. In the same book, however, Sestero admits that the idea of Wiseau becoming wealthy so quickly via the jobs he claims to have had is so unlikely that he himself finds it impossible to believe. Sestero suggests on several occasions that many people involved with the creation of The Room believed the film to be part of some money-laundering scheme for organized crime, but Sestero himself considers this unlikely.
Sestero recounts that at some point, Wiseau was involved in a near-fatal car crash in California after another driver ran a red light and struck Wiseau's vehicle; as a result, Wiseau was hospitalized for several weeks. Sestero suggests that this incident was the turning point in Wiseau's life that led him to pursue his dreams of becoming an actor and director, ambitions that he had long neglected while pursuing financial security. Wiseau's cinematic influences include James Dean, Marlon Brando, Tennessee Williams, Orson Welles, Elizabeth Taylor, and Alfred Hitchcock.