Tommy Wiseau: Never Give Up Your Dream

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Twenty years ago, two “all-American” guys in their early twenties who had the same dream moved to Los Angeles. Just like millions of others, they wanted to become successful actors and take over Hollywood.

The two youngsters were Tommy Wiseau and Greg Sestero. But here’s what happened over the next several years:

Tommy turned out to be in his early forties, not American, and he was literally turned down by every single person in Hollywood. No one gave Tommy a chance. And the same is true for his friend, Greg Sestero.

So what does any regular Joe do in that kind of situation? Quit, right? Nope. They decided to make their own movie. And the creative genius behind all of this was Tommy Wiseau.

So, four years after the guys arrived in LA, they started shooting what is known as the best worst movie of all time, The Room.

And now, twenty years later, a real Hollywood movie is made about their movie. The movie is called The Disaster Artist, directed by James Franco, and based on the book with the same title by Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell.

Now that’s what I call a slow grind. Ever since I recently discovered this story and both movies, I’ve been obsessed with everything about it. I’ve watched and listened to a bunch of interviews with James Franco, who also plays Tommy Wiseau.

If you haven’t seen The Disaster Artist or The Room, this whole thing sounds weird. And it is!

The Room is probably the weirdest movie I’ve seen. I mean that in a good way. I just don’t know what it is.

“I’ve heard people say it’s as if an alien watched a bunch of soap operas and tried to figure out what the human race was about,” said Michael Rousselet, who’s an actor and writer.

The Room is in a category of its own. Tommy calls it a dark comedy now. But when it came out, he called it a “Tennessee Williams level drama.” It’s hilarious.

Regardless of whether it was intended or not, The Room can’t be categorized. It’s the creation of a unique person. It’s something that no one can ever recreate. That’s what makes The Room great.

A lack of self-awareness or an overdose of confidence?

I thoroughly enjoyed The Room and The Disaster Artist. But there’s one thing that I like even better: Tommy Wiseau’s perseverance.

People told Tommy that he couldn’t act ever since he started. That he looked like a vampire pirate. And that his ideas are shitty.

And yet, the man poured over 6 million dollars of his own money in a movie. Who does that? Especially if everybody tells you that you’re doing the wrong thing. That you’re wasting your time and money.

I have to be honest. If everybody told me I’d suck at something, I’d probably stop doing it professionally. I’d turn it into a hobby.

But that’s not what Tommy Wiseau did. He had a vision and held on to it — no matter what.

Did he lack self-awareness? Looking back, the answer is no. But that’s not how life works. All we see now is the huge success of both movies. And Tommy himself has become mainstream. He was recently even on Jimmy Kimmel with Franco. And he made all the money back he put into the movie, and then some.

But that took 20 years to happen

Today, we’re obsessed with quick results. We live in a world where people delete their social media post after 4 minutes if it doesn’t get enough likes. We want things to happen quickly.

We want to get discovered yesterday. We want a big payday. Now. And when it doesn’t happen, we shell up, close the curtains, delete our social media accounts, and hide.

But to achieve your goals in life, you need self-confidence and perseverance. It’s been 20 years since Tommy and Greg arrived in LA. And 14.5 years since The Room came out. It wasn’t an instant hit. In fact, the movie grossed only $1800 when it debuted. No one saw it in the beginning.

The Room first got traction in LA — especially with USC students, and later in the comedy scene. And it grew slowly from there. Through word of mouth, it reached one person after the other until people from all over the world went to screenings of The Room at their local theatres. By 2009, The Room had even reached London theatres.

It’s the power of compounding. Small, insignificant events by themselves, that add up to big results.

Now, years later, all those fans have added up to millions. Could Tommy predict this? No, of course not. He’s not a fortune teller. But he had a dream. And never gave it up. He didn’t achieve it in a traditional way, but he still did it. That’s what matters.

How about you? Ever thought about quitting? That’s normal — we all think about it. But if you do quit, all I have to say to you is this:

“You just a little chicken. CHEEP CHEEP CHEEP CHEEP CHEEP!”

Creator of the Stoic Letter (new letter comes out every Friday) | Author of 7 books and 6 courses at

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