by Andie Nash
The cult hit The Room is fast becoming the Rocky Horror of its generation. Originally released in 2003, the film quickly sank like a stone and seemed destined for obscurity…until it was discovered by a small but enthusiastic contingent of movie geeks and irony-loving hipsters. Since then, midnight screenings have been cropping up all over the country, attended by boisterous fans who dress up like the film’s characters and act out scenes at the front of the theatre. Tommy Wiseau—the movie’s writer, director, producer and star—has fully embraced the hype and even makes appearances at screenings to sign autographs and greet loyal “Roomies”, yet remains strangely tight-lipped about the film’s production, script, and actors. So imagine our delight when Juliette Danielle— The Room ‘s leading lady—agreed to be interviewed for Praxis . Juliette is—of course—nothing like her Room character, the deliciously evil and duplicitous Lisa. She rescues feral cats, she likes karaoke, and she has a great sense of humor about The Room and its legions of devoted fans. Andie Ryan finds out more.
AN: There is a lot of unintentional hilarity in The Room . Did you have trouble keeping a straight face while shooting certain scenes?
JD: Tommy ran a pretty tight ship in that regard. He takes his craft very seriously. There wasn’t a lot of cracking up on set. But I can remember one time that I just lost it. It’s the line where Johnny has locked himself in the bathroom and he says, “In a few minutes, bitch.” I was doing okay until I saw the entire crew in my field of vision, stifling their laughter. I couldn’t help it. Tommy came out and demanded to know what was so funny. That made it worse!
AN: What was the most difficult scene to shoot?
JD: I’m sure most people would think I’d say the love scenes with Tommy, but the roof scene with Denny and Chris R was by FAR the hardest. The line that killed me was “What kind of money?” I mean, how do you say that?
AN: That was a kick ass line! And you delivered it with such aplomb. Speaking of Chris R…he was kinda hunky. He only made that one brief appearance in the film—was he in other scenes that were cut?
JD: Not that I recall. Although I think he would have made a great addition to the party scene.
AN: What is your favorite line from the film?
”Leave your stupid comments in your pocket!”
AN: Did you and your costars hang out off-set during filming?
JD: A little bit. I dragged—and I mean dragged —a few of them to karaoke a couple of times.
AN: Oh, that rules! Who ended up going out with you?
JD: Philip (Haldiman) and a few of the cast members who didn’t last. The previous Michelle and Mark. Oh, and I totally forgot to mention, I was originally cast in the role of Michelle. The original Lisa was closer to Johnny’s age, but she had a random accent and a personality that didn’t seem to fit. There were a lot of cast changes prior to filming.
And I have no idea what we sang together. If I had to guess, I probably sang a lot of Alanis Morisette and Dixie Chicks. Don’t ask—it was a phase!
AN: What is your favorite memory from the set of The Room ?
JD: My sister spent a day hanging out on set. She’s 10 years younger than me and she thought it was the coolest thing. She got to watch me slap Greg over and over again to get the take right in the party scene.
AN: Do you keep in touch with your co-stars?
JD: I keep in touch with Greg, Philip and Robyn ( Paris ), although Philip has been difficult because he moved out of state. Thank goodness for Facebook!
AN: In five words or less, describe…
Philip Haldiman (“Denny”): Funny, charming, talented nostril flarer.
Carolyn Minnott: (“Claudette”) Smart, sassy, classy.
Greg Sestero (“Mark”): Handsome, well mannered, classic.
and last but not least…the mysterious Tommy Wiseau: Focused, fueled by Red bull.
AN: Do you think Tommy will ever release a director’s cut of “The Room” on DVD? I’d love to hear the cast commentary!
JD: Sadly, no. I’m not sure Tommy would want to hear what some of the cast would say.
AN: What do your friends and family think of The Room ?
JD: I forbade them to watch it. Of course, my pleas were ignored. They like to quote lines to me on a constant basis.
AN: Have you made appearances at any of midnight screenings? If so, how does it feel to sit in a theatre surrounded by fans shouting at the screen? Do you ever join in the shouting?
JD: I have. I like to go before the movie starts and interact with the fans in line. Of course, there were people that recognized me right away, but about half of the crowd had never seen the movie before and had no idea who I was. I was handing out candy and they were looking at me like I was crazy.
I have only stayed for the whole movie at one screening, and that was many years ago. One fan shouted out, “Juliette, is it awkward to be in here right now?” And I shouted back, “Why, yes…yes it is!” Sometimes I do wish I could stay and watch the fun. Our fans are so creative and enthusiastic.
AN: Why do you not stay for the whole film?
JD: Honestly? The nudity bothers me a great deal. I was a lot more liberal about things like that back in the day. If not for (the nude scenes) I would totally stay for the whole film and see all the fun antics of our diehard fans. At one screening there was this guy who went to the front of the theater and kicked a can back and forth while muttering things like, “I can’t believe I keep COMING here month after month.”
AN: Do you get recognized by fans often?
JD: I used to get recognized more in the beginning when I went out a lot. Plus, the movie was filmed quite a while ago, so I don’t have my baby face and über-blonde hair anymore. But I love my fans. The ones that find me on Facebook are so great.
AN: What is the one question that fans are always asking you?
JD: Ha ha, fans always want to know about TOMMY!
AN: How crazy is it to have famous fans like Kristen Bell, Paul Rudd, David Cross, and Will Arnett? Is that a bit surreal?
JD: It’s ridiculous and completely awesome. Awesome because those guys are my idols. Ridiculous because I can’t believe they will admit they like it. It’s weird. I mean, Alec Baldwin has seen my boobs!
AN: Wow, I didn’t realize Alec Baldwin was a “Roomie”! Has he mentioned it in interviews?
JD: It was on TV awhile ago…I think it was on ABC World News Tonight . My friend called me frantically to tell me to change the channel. I practically peed my pants.
AN: There was a prominent billboard for The Room that was up in Hollywood for quite a while. Was it weird driving by that huge sign for so many years?
JD: This was really cool because I lived in Hollywood for a lot of that time, and I did drive by it a lot. One of my friends visiting from Texas took a picture with me in front of it.
AN: Are you from Los Angeles originally?
JD: No, I moved to Los Angeles with my mom and sister in 2001. I grew up in Sugar Land , Texas , a suburb of Houston .
AN: What inspired you to go into acting?
JD: From an early age, my teachers told me to go into acting. I was always very extroverted and I liked to perform. I also watched movies constantly. I loved the way that film can suspend your disbelief and capture your imagination. But growing up in Texas , acting wasn’t really something I dreamed about. I’m a very practical girl. Then at 20 years old, I was in Los Angeles with my family and decided I owed it to myself to give it a shot.
AN: I understand you are now working in real estate. Are you doing any acting on the side? If not, do you see yourself returning to the craft in the future?
JD: I love acting so much and at some point I would love to do it again. But as I said, I’m a practical girl. Shortly after The Room , some things in my life happened and I needed to be responsible and make sure I had a steady income. I would basically have to give up that stability to pursue my dreams again at this point. That really scares me.
AN: As long as you stay away from the computer business. Everyone knows it’s too competitive.
AN: Comedian Joe Lo Truglio calls The Room “a guilty pleasure in every sense of the word.” Do you have a so-bad-it’s-good favorite movie or TV show that’s a guilty pleasure for you?
JD: Yes, I do! It’s a tie between Encino Man and Mystery Men . And…just added: They Live . “I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass…and I’m all out of bubblegum.” That’s a great line. I can’t stop saying it.
AN: What are your hobbies and interests?
JD: I am very passionate about all animals, but I have a soft spot for cats. I volunteer three days a week at Purrfect Solutions Feline Rescue in Sherman Oaks. Nothing makes me happier. I have six cats living with me right now. All but one is a rescue.
AN: You get huge points for being a cat lover! What are the names of your kitties?
JD: Kitty, Lola, Tia, Mia, Duffy, and Milo . Milo is our newest. He is totally feral and we can’t get close enough to pet him yet. But he’s fluffy, cute, and gets along with the others, so he’s staying.
AN: I have to ask, is there a “Johnny” in your life?
JD: Tricky question. If you mean “do I have a guy who treats me like a princess?” Yes. If you mean, “do I wrap him around my little finger, cheat on him, and then drive him to his demise?” No, thank goodness.
AN: That’s awesome, you totally deserve to be treated like a princess. And you look great in a red dress.
JD: Thanks, every girl should have one!
For a primer on The Room (complete with video clips), check out this .
A funny mash-up of The Room and Full House is here.