When you think of The Room, usually the most famous female star that comes to mind from the cult movie is Juliette Danielle, who played bitchy Lisa. But Juliette — who has amassed a fan following over Facebook — is happy to share the wealth, as she posted this fascinating essay from her The Room co-star Robyn Paris.
Robyn played Michelle, Lisa’s friend who spent most of the movie listening to her bitch about whether to be with Johnny or Mark, and who had the memorable love scene involving her Barney Rubble-esque boyfriend and a box of chocolate. (You’ll get to see that in a few.)
Like Juliette, Robyn is a really good sport about her involvement in this cult phenomenon, and talks candidly about how she got involved. As she tells it, the only reason she got the role of Michelle was because as an out-of-work actor she showed up first to the audition. She says of enigmatic director Tommy Wiseau,
His primary mode of auditioning was telling the actors, “Your best friend just died. Go!” Five seconds later, “You just won the lottery. Go!” In my memory, he even said, “You are a chicken. Go!” But I might have made that part up.
…As soon as I got [to the set], Tommy handed me five pages and said, “We are shooting this in twenty minutes.” Sure enough, a few moments later, I was on the set wearing the same clothes in which I had arrived and we were shooting the infamous “chocolate is the symbol of love” scene. I never saw a script, never knew the context of the scene we were shooting, and never even knew who the characters were. (None of the actors ever saw a script for The Room. Tommy was worried that we would steal it.)
This is what she had twenty minutes to prepare for:
Robyn goes on to explain that during the short shoot, three different crews quit and they burned through multiple Lisas and Michelles. But eventually it all came together — well, about as much as this poorly-edited movie could coalesce — and within a few years she was part of a legend. In the last nine years, Robyn has attended screenings, though usually in a blond wig or other disguise. (You’ll notice in the photo below that she ran into Michael Cera at one.) The whole essay is a great read, but I’ve copied the last paragraph because it’s just so great:
Here is my advice to actors regarding bad movies: Do only films that you wouldn’t mind talking about for the next 20 years. Because you never know what kind of longevity your projects will have, particularly with clips being available indefinitely online. An independent movie – good or bad – could take you anywhere. It could make you famous. It could make you notorious. It could be a worldwide phenomenon, or it could be “The Room.” So, I say to all aspiring actors: Sidle up to the poker table of Hollywood, play your cards and see what you get. I did. Did I get a full house? More like two-of-a-kind with a wild card. But I’ll take it. ‘Cause at least it’s funny. And I really like to laugh.
Photos: The Room Novelization, Backstage