11 Surprising Facts About The Room

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At this point, it’s a bona fide cultural phenomenon. Thirteen years after a lackluster opening weekend, The Room—lovingly known as “the Citizen Kane of bad movies”—now draws huge crowds in theaters all over America. Be advised that, if you attend a screening, there’s a good chance you’ll get hit with a barrage of fan-thrown plastic spoons. More on those after the jump. 

1. IT WAS CONCEIVED AS A STAGE PLAY.

The Room sprung from the mind of Tommy Wiseau, its mysterious co-producer, screenwriter, director, and star. At first, he wanted it to be a play but decided that a feature film would be more profitable. Before tackling the script though, Wiseau turned his tale into a 500-page novel. “It’s the same story but it’s much more detail-oriented,” he told The Portland Mercury. What became of this tome? Wiseau says, “Eventually we will publish. I’m pretty sure, 100 percent.” Apparently, one publishing company has expressed an interest in putting it out—if he can reduce the length to 300 pages. 

2. TOMMY WISEAU WANTED TO INCLUDE A FLYING CAR.

The main character in The Room is Johnny (Wiseau), a banker who loves tossing footballs, imitating chickens, and hanging out with his best buddy, Mark (played by Greg Sestero). But is there more to Johnny than meets the eye? In 2013, Sestero released The Disaster Artist, a tell-all book about The Room and its bizarre production. Inside, we learn that Wiseau often ambushed the crew mid-shoot with ideas for brand-new scenes. One of these—which was never filmed—would’ve involved Johnny’s car levitating up off his roof and into the sky. “It’s just possible side plot,” Wiseau elucidated. “Maybe Johnny is vampire.”

3. TO PREPARE FOR THE ROLE OF LISA, JULIETTE DANIELLE WATCHED EYES WIDE SHUT.

Throughout the film, Mark is having an affair with Johnny’s fiancée, Lisa. Originally, the part was given to an unidentified actress whom Wiseau later fired. Once she left, Danielle took over—even though she had already been cast as Michelle (Lisa’s best friend) when she was handed this very different character. To help her get inside Lisa’s head, Wiseau had the actress watch Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut—but he never explained why. “I still don’t know what he was trying to do there,” Danielle admitted.

4. THE ROOM’S INFAMOUS SPOON PICTURES WERE STOCK PHOTOS.

Johnny and Lisa really seem to like cutlery. For reasons the movie never makes clear, their apartment is decked out with pictures of spoons. These actually came with the frames that Wiseau’s team had bought to decorate the set. Instead of replacing the throwaway photos, he kept them in. Why? Sestero says that Wiseau just wanted to “get on with the filming” and didn’t think there’d be time to find new pictures. On the other hand, the director himself swears that these spoons have a deep symbolic purpose—namely, they represent America’s unhealthy dependence on disposable products.

In any event, whenever The Room is presented in theaters nowadays, those stock photos steal the show. Every time they appear, fans yell “Spoon!” and throw plastic ones at the screen.  

5. GREG SESTERO INSISTED ON REMAINING HALF-CLOTHED DURING MARK AND LISA’S SEX SCENE.

“Tommy … definitely wanted to show some flesh,” Sestero told Rolling Stone. “I was like, ‘Uh, that’s not going to happen with me.’ So, luckily, he made the exception so I could have my jeans on.” When the movie later premiered, Sestero got up and left before the scene began. Even today, the actor claims that he can’t stomach this sequence—which oddly takes place on a spiral staircase. “It’s a part of the movie at which I always fast-forward or run for the exit because it’s just painful to watch.”

6. AN ALL-NEW CHARACTER WAS CREATED FOR THE CLIMAX BECAUSE ONE ACTOR LEFT EARLY.

The Room has a 97-minute runtime. “Steven”—a character who’s never referred to by name—doesn’t show up until the 76-minute mark. When he finally appears at Johnny’s climactic house party, the man repeatedly confronts Lisa about her affair. Because we’re never told who Steven is or how he knows any of the other guests, his sudden arrival baffles viewers.

Originally, he wasn’t in the script. Instead, his lines were supposed to be delivered by an established character named Peter. A psychologist played by Kyle Vogt, Peter makes several appearances in the movie’s second act—and even gets into a shoving match with Mark over Lisa’s two-timing ways. Unfortunately, prior engagements forced Vogt to leave The Room before it finished filming. Wiseau’s solution? Cut out Peter and give his lines to a never-before-seen character. After a casting call, Wiseau hired Greg Ellery, telling him, “Peter left. Now you are like Peter, but you are Steven.”

7. TO PROMOTE THE MOVIE, WISEAU PERSONALLY SPENT $5000 PER MONTH—FOR FIVE YEARS—ON AN ENIGMATIC BILLBOARD.

There’s no shortage of odd sights in Hollywood, but this one really stood out. Perched on the west side of Highland, a cryptic billboard spent half a decade advertising The Room. Being a man of means, Wiseau paid for it himself. Design-wise, this thing was rather straightforward. The sign mainly consisted of a scowling Johnny close-up with a plug for the movie’s official website. Far more intriguing to most passersby was its location: Just a few blocks away stands the Dolby Theatre, home of the Academy Awards ceremonies. As The Room’s cult following grew, the sign became a minor landmark of sorts. Then, long after Wiseau had the image removed in 2008, Sestero advertised The Disaster Artist on this exact same billboard.

8. THE ROOM’S ORIGINAL RUN ONLY MADE $1900.

On June 27, 2003, Wiseau’s masterpiece arrived in theaters—two of them, to be precise. The Room’s initial run was confined to the Laemmle Fallbrook and Fairfax cinemas in Los Angeles. By the time it was pulled from both just 14 days later, the film had grossed a meager $1900. Yet, all was not lost. B-movie history was about to intervene.

9. ONE CINEPHILE ALMOST SINGLE-HANDEDLY KICKED OFF THE ROOM’S CULT FOLLOWING.

One of the few people who saw the film during that two-week original run was screenwriter Michael Rousselet. At an “absolutely empty” theater, he found himself enthralled by The Room and its mesmerizing, laugh-out-loud ineptitude. Toward the end of the film, Rousselet started ringing his friends and telling them “You have to come see this movie.” Three days later, he’d amassed a crowd of more than 100 people. Many emailed Wiseau to personally thank him for his work. Encouraged, the director set up an encore, midnight showing at Laemmle. The turnout exceeded even his wildest expectations and—without hesitation—Wiseau arranged to have it screened monthly.

10. WISEAU HAS RETROACTIVELY CALLED THE ROOM A DARK COMEDY.

To hear Wiseau tell it, the film was supposed to be a humorous, tongue-in-cheek farce all along—which means that The Room’s narrative blunders, according to Wiseau, were deliberate. Yet an anonymous cast member disputed this claim in a 2008 conversation with Entertainment Weekly. “He was trying to put together a drama,” claimed the source. “It was basically his stage to show off his acting ability.”

11. JAMES FRANCO JUST MADE A MOVIE ABOUT THE ROOM—AND WISEAU MIGHT HAVE A CAMEO.

Scheduled for release sometime this fall, The Masterpiece is a big-budget film adaptation of The Disaster Artist. James Franco is directing and will also be playing Wiseau—and, evidently, he got to share a scene with the man himself. “Tommy was involved contractually,” Franco said. “We had to give him a cameo opposite me which was very weird because I was playing him. I don’t know if that’ll end up in the movie or not, but it was a surreal experience.”

Celebrate the Holidays With the 2020 Harry Potter Funko Pop Advent Calendar

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Funko

Though the main book series and movie franchise are long over, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter remains in the spotlight as one of the most popular properties in pop-culture. The folks at Funko definitely know this, and every year the company releases a new Advent calendar based on the popular series so fans can count down to the holidays with their favorite characters.

SIGN UP TODAY: Get exclusive deals, product news, reviews and more with the Mental Floss Smart Shopping Newsletter!

Right now, you can pre-order the 2020 edition of Funko's popular Harry Potter Advent calendar, and if you do it through Amazon, you'll even get it on sale for 33 percent off, bringing the price down from $60 to just $40.

Funko Pop!/Amazon

Over the course of the holiday season, the Advent calendar allows you to count down the days until Christmas, starting on December 1, by opening one of the tiny, numbered doors on the appropriate day. Each door is filled with a surprise Pocket Pop! figurine—but outside of the trio of Harry, Hermione, and Ron, the company isn't revealing who you'll be getting just yet.

Calendars will start shipping on October 15, but if you want a head start, go to Amazon to pre-order yours at a discount.

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

10 Facts About David Fincher's The Social Network for Its 10th Anniversary

Jesse Eisenberg stars in David Fincher's The Social Network (2010).
Jesse Eisenberg stars in David Fincher's The Social Network (2010).
Merrick Morton/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

The Social Network—a movie made when Facebook was less than seven years old and the social media era was relatively new—seemed destined to age poorly. But in the decade since its premiere in October 2010, the film’s depiction of the website and its young founder, Mark Zuckerberg, is more relevant than ever.

Even if you haven’t logged onto Facebook in years, the film offers plenty to love, from David Fincher’s detailed direction to Aaron Sorkin’s Oscar-winning script. In honor of its 10-year anniversary, here are 10 facts about The Social Network.

1. Aaron Sorkin started writing the script for The Social Network before the book it's based on was published.

Aaron Sorkin makes a cameo in The Social Network (2010).Merrick Morton, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

The Social Network is officially an adaptation of The Accidental Billionaires, Ben Mezrich's 2009 book detailing the founding of Facebook. But according to screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, he had already completed 80 percent of the script by the time he read the book. The project came to him in the form of a 14-page book proposal the publisher was shopping around to filmmakers ahead of the title's release. “I said yes on page three," Sorkin told Deadline in 2011. "That’s the fastest I’ve ever said yes to anything."

Instead of waiting for The Accidental Billionaires to be completed and published, Sorkin started working on the script immediately, doing his own first-hand research for much of the process instead of referring to the book.

2. Shia LaBeouf turned down the role of Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network.

When Transformers star Shia LaBeouf turned down the role of The Social Network’s lead character, Jesse Eisenberg was hired to play Mark Zuckerberg instead. Superbad's Jonah Hill was another star who came close to being cast in the movie, in his case as Napster founder Sean Parker; ultimately, Fincher decided Hill wasn’t right for the role and cast Justin Timberlake instead.

3. The Social Network wasn’t filmed at Harvard.

Harvard University is integral to the legend of Facebook, and setting the first half of The Social Network there was non-negotiable. Filmmakers ran into trouble, however, when attempting to get the school's blessing. The 1970 adaptation of Love Story been shot there, and damaged the campus; the school has reportedly banned all commercial filming on the premises since then. To get around this, The Social Network crew shot the Harvard scenes at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland and two prep schools, Phillips Academy Andover and Milton Academy, in Massachusetts.

4. David Fincher did sneak one shot of Harvard into The Social Network.

To convince the audience that they were indeed seeing Harvard, Fincher couldn’t resist sneaking in a shot of the campus’s iconic architecture. When Jesse Eisenberg runs across Harvard Square (which is not on Harvard property) in the beginning film, some nearby arches (which are on Harvard property) appear in the background. Fincher got the lighting he needed for this scene by hiring a street mime to roll a cart with lights on it onto the campus.

“If security were to stop him, the mime wouldn’t talk," The Social Network’s director of photography Jeff Cronenweth told Variety. "By the time they got him out of there, we would have accomplished our shot.”

5. Natalie Portman gave Aaron Sorkin the inside scoop on Harvard.

Natalie Portman attended Harvard from 1999 to 2003, briefly overlapping with fellow star alum Mark Zuckerberg. While enrolled, she dated a member of one of the university’s elite final clubs, which are an important part of The Social Network’s plot. When she learned that Sorkin was writing the screenplay for the movie, she invited the writer over to hear her insider knowledge. Sorkin gave the actress a shout-out in the final script. During one of the deposition scenes, Eisenberg's Harvard-era Zuckerberg is described as “the biggest thing on a campus that included 19 Nobel Laureates, 15 Pulitzer Prize winners, two future Olympians, and a movie star.”

6. Armie Hammer and his body double went to twin boot camp for The Social Network.

Armie Hammer and Josh Pence (as Armie Hammer) in The Social Network (2010).Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Armie Hammer is credited as playing both Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, but he wasn’t acting alone in his scenes. Josh Pence was cast as a body double and Hammer’s face was digitally pasted over his in post-production. For every scene where both twins appear on screen, Hammer and Pence played separate Winklevi, and then they would swap roles and shoot the scene again. This method allowed the characters to physically interact in ways that wouldn’t have been possible with split screens. Pence’s face may be missing from the movie, but his physical performance was still essential to selling the brothers' dynamic. He and Hammer worked with an acting coach for 10 months to nail down the characters’ complementary body language.

7. The Social Network's tagline was changed at the last minute.

For The Social Network’s main poster, designer Neil Kellerhouse made Jesse Eisenberg’s face the focal point. Over it, he superimposed the memorable tagline: “You don’t get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies.” Originally, the text read “300 million friends,” but it was changed under the assumption that Facebook would hit half a billion users in time for the movie’s October 2010 release.

“We were really hedging our bets," Kellerhouse told IndieWire. "But we scooped them on their own story because right as the film was coming out they got 500 million [members] so we got their publicity as well. It worked out super serendipitously.”

8. Fight Club’s Tyler Durden (kind of) makes a cameo in The Social Network.

Sharp-eyed viewers may have noticed the Easter egg David Fincher snuck into The Social Network. In the scene where Mark Zuckerberg is checking someone’s Facebook to cheat on a test, the name “Tyler Durden” can be seen in the top-left corner of the profile. Tyler Durden is the name of the narrator’s alter ego (played by Brad Pitt) in 1999’s Fight Club. Fincher directed both films.

9. The real Mark Zuckerberg wasn’t a fan of The Social Network.

Andrew Garfield and Jesse Eisenberg in The Social Network (2010).Merrick Morton, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

The Social Network doesn’t paint Mark Zuckerberg in the most flattering light, and unsurprisingly, the real-life Facebook founder wasn’t happy about it. Following the movie’s release, he called out its “hurtful” inaccuracies, specifically citing the fictional Mara Rooney character that’s used as his motivation for founding the website. But even he admits that some details were spot-on. “It’s interesting what stuff they focused on getting right," Zuckerberg said at a Stanford event. "Like every single fleece and shirt I had in that movie is actually a shirt or fleece that I own.”

10. A sequel to The Social Network is not out of the question.

The Social Network premiered when Facebook was less than a decade old, and the story of the internet giant has only gotten more dramatic since then. Since settling lawsuits with Eduardo Saverin and the Winkelvoss twins, Facebook has been battling scandals related to privacy issues and its influence on the 2016 election. The last 10 years have provided more than enough material for a sequel to The Social Network, and both Aaron Sorkin and Jesse Eisenberg have expressed interest in such a project. As of now, there are no confirmed plans for a follow-up.