I Love My Dad writer, director, and star James Morosini joined actors Patton Oswalt, Rachel Dratch, and Claudia Sulewski at Deadline’s SXSW Studio to discuss their film.
“A version of [I Love My Dad] actually happened to me,” says Morosini. “My dad and I got into a big fight and I decided to just cut him off of social media and everything else. I got home one day and this really pretty girl sent me a friend request online, I was very excited and this story was born.”
I Love My Dad tells the story of the strained relationship between Chuck (Oswalt) and his son Franklin (Morosini). When Franklin cuts his dad out of his life by blocking him on all social media, Chuck creates a fake profile using photos of Becca (Sulewski), a waitress he met at a restaurant, and inadvertently catfishes his son.
“Basically, it’s a sustained version of panic,” says Oswalt, “that I think this guy lives in… and that was my fuel for the whole thing.”
“I usually do more kind of broad comedy,” says Dratch, who plays Chuck’s girlfriend Erica. “It was fun to do a part that was subtle but still could be funny, and just to be involved in the whole story was fun for me.”
As Franklin is messaging the fake version of Becca, Morosini chose to have the digital interactions play out in a physical space. “I wanted to show what it feels like when we’re on our phones and having a conversation with somebody,” says Morosini.
“That was really fun, getting to play with imaginary Becca,” says Sulewski, “because there’s so many layers to her. On one side, I’m literally his dad, and just finding ways to gaslight and manipulate a bit. But at the same time, I’m also playing his idea of a dream girl.”
The same interactions played out on Chuck’s side as well. “In terms of [Franklin] showing up when [Chuck] is imagining certain moments,” says Morosini, “how could you not? It just makes those moments so much more heightened and brutal, because now he’s having to contend with his son that he knows he’s talking to as well.”
Click the video above to see the full discussion.
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.