“Go with your gut 100%, because your instinct is always going to be the most interesting perspective and choice.” – Claudia Sulewski
Everyone has that one nutty story that could be a great movie, including James Morosini, who had one of those true-life experiences that was so bananas, he almost had to tell it. In I Love My Dad, Patton Oswalt plays Chuck, an estranged father who wants nothing more than get back into the good graces of his son, Franklin (Morosini). When he finds out that he’s been blocked on his social media sites, Chuck decides to create a profile using the persona of a waitress (Claudia Sulewski) he recently met. Soon, Franklin falls for the imaginary girl and Chuck does everything he can to stop him from finding her. The film is very funny, the cast is absolutely terrific and I promise that you will have no idea how the story will end.
In this interview, Morosini and Sulewski talk about the film and getting catfished, how she was cast 24 hours before filming started and their advice to actors. These are edited excerpts from that conversation. For the full interview, check out the video below or watch it on YouTube.
This movie was really great. A lot of it had this cringe element to it, but in the best and funniest way possible.
James Morosini: Thank you so much for saying that, man. Yeah, we definitely wanted to make something that was gonna make people cringe, but it’s making them cringe because hopefully they’re so invested in the characters that there’s no way out for them.
This was based on a true story?
James Morosini: Yeah, a long time ago, my dad and I got into a big fight, and I blocked him on social media. I was going through a tough time, and he wanted to make sure I was okay, but had no way of doing so because I wouldn’t talk with him. I got home one day, and this really pretty girl sent me a friend request on Facebook. She had all these great pictures and her profile seemed amazing, and I got really excited. Then I found out it was my dad. And so, my dad catfished me.
And I wanted to take this and really explore the experience from my dad’s perspective and what would cause him to get to that place where he thought that was the best idea, and then see how far I could take it to really explore the nuances of our relationship together.
The cast was fantastic. But casting Rachel Dratch… She is so good in this.
James Morosini: She’s so funny, man. She’s just such a great person to have around. She’s just funny, but also is just so smart. She got this character and was really able to kind of endow Erica with this vulnerability but also kind of domineering quality that was just perfect. I’m so happy with how it turned out.
Claudia, you really had two roles… Well, three really, if you think about it. When you auditioned for the role, was that reflected in the sides?
Claudia Sulewski: I think there were a few normal Becca scenes and there were some imaginary as well. The sides alone were so much fun to be able to explore that within an audition, because sometimes you don’t necessarily get to where you read the whole script and you’re like, “That scene, that’s so funny.”
And so from the audition to actually filming, the entire process was so satisfying to be able to play that sort of distinct contrast between these two roles, and where it makes the most sense, to really play up Chuck, and really be his father.
James, what did you see in Claudia’s auditions that made you want to cast her?
James Morosini: Claudia’s acting is so naturalistic that I immediately responded to that aspect of it. But then in meeting Claudia and just talking with her, she’s so collaborative and honest about her process and so hard working.
The entire time we were making this movie, she was just diving further and further into this character and then was willing to just be weird and try things. I really couldn’t have asked for a better collaborative experience with her on this process.
Claudia, I don’t know if I read this right but did you get this part like a couple of days before you started filming?
Claudia Sulewski: Yes. [laughs] And that is just showbiz, is what I’m learning.
Yeah, I found out 24 hours before having to pack for six weeks and fly the next morning, which I think just added to the chaos and excitement.
James, what happened there?
James Morosini: There was a lot of moving pieces at that stage in the process. I knew that I wanted Claudia to play this part, and so I’m so happy that it worked out.
Claudia Sulewski: Me too. [laughs]
Besides being actors, you both are creators. What advice would you give other actors who want to be in the position that you are today?
Claudia Sulewski: Go with your gut 100%, because your instinct is always going to be the most interesting perspective and choice. That’s what I would say.
James Morosini: I think my advice would probably be… I don’t know, I journal quite a bit, and that always helps me just follow whatever I’m most excited about and helps me be in creative conversation with what I’m interested in. And that then helps me figure out what I want to do with that feeling or thought.