An actor has revealed how his dad created a Facebook profile posing as a pretty girl to catfish him – and now he’s turned that disturbing experience into an award-winning film.
James Morosini, 31, was going through a particularly difficult time with his father, Claudio Lichtenthal, a decade ago when he decided to remove him from his life.
But Lichtenthal was unwilling to accept any contact with his son and created a fake Facebook account to connect with him – using photos of a pretty girl to get his attention.
As Morosini became romantically interested in the girl, he discovered that her father was really behind the account, leaving him to feel “complete rage and embarrassment”.
Amazingly, the couple managed to patch up their relationship in the years that followed, and now Morosini – who previously had roles in American Horror Story: Roanoke and HBO Max’s The Sex Lives of College Girls – has launched a film based on the experience, I Love My Dad, at the SXSW Film Festival.
James Morosini, 31, has revealed how his dad created a Facebook profile posing as a pretty girl to catfish him – and now he’s made a movie about it
He was going through a particularly difficult time with his father, Claudio Lichtenthal, about ten years ago when he decided to remove him from his life.
In real life, Morosini was 20 years old and suffering from depression when his strained relationship with his father reached a breaking point. After a bad argument, Morosini decided to remove it altogether.
“My dad and I had a fight and I decided to cut him off from social media and everything,” he told Deadline.
In addition to blocking him on social media, he changed the contact details of his number to “Do not answer”.
But his father, in a worried but misguided attempt to watch over his son, found a way around Morosini’s limitations.
“I came home one day. And this very pretty girl had sent me a friend request on Facebook. And she looked awesome. She had all the same interests as me and loved the same things,” Morosini told Screen Anarchy.
He and “Becca” started talking, and he grew more interested and excited about her – until he noticed her email address was the same as his dad’s.
“He had basically created this whole profile to make sure I was okay,” Morosini said.
Morosini was angry and embarrassed. By then, he and his father had also started talking in real life again and were working on their relationship in family therapy – which is where Morosini confronted him, coming off an impression of Facebook profile of ‘Becca’ during a session.
He dramatized it in the film “I Love My Dad”, in which he plays the son and Patton Oswalt plays the father
I Love My Dad, which also stars Rachel Dratch and Claudia Sulewski, won the Grand Jury Prize for Narrative Feature at SXSW
As upset as he was, Morosini admitted that even back then he knew the experience was an interesting story.
“When I found out it was my dad, it was like a pretty crazy emotion,” he said.
“Because it was rage and embarrassment, but I’ve always been into comedy and I’ve always had a pretty strong sense of irony, so there was this tiny little part of me, when I found out, I was secretly like, “Cool, this is so good. There is something here. I don’t know what it is, but I can’t believe he would do that.”‘
“I think it’s a fucking crazy story,” he added to The Daily Beast.
“One of the main reasons I wrote it was so I could tell it was weird. It’s this cool mix of something really weird, but also beautiful in a weird way.
But, he admitted, “It was the most uncomfortable thing I could write about.”
The film is based on his real-life experience, although he says he only used a “core” from the true story and applied his imagination.
“We explored how far it could have gone,” he said.
In the film, Morosini’s character, Franklin, finishes rehab for depression when he cuts off communication with his father, Chuck, played by Patton Oswalt.
He had stopped talking to his father (pictured), who posed as a cute girl named ‘Becca’ and had befriended him on Facebook Eventually Morosini realized the truth
The film explores “how far it could have gone”, the character of the son sextant with the profile of the catfish before realizing that it is his father
Chuck, wanting to mend their relationship, gets the idea for catfishing from a friend, who did it to rekindle a romance with an ex.
After meeting a waitress at a restaurant named Becca, played by Claudia Sulewski, he finds her on Facebook and uses her photos to create another account before a friend asks for his son.
The cinematic relationship turns intense, going from pleasant conversation to sexting and full cybersex before Franklin finds out the truth.
Although Morosini said he and his father now have a good relationship — and he wanted to make sure the father character was likable in the film — he makes it clear in the film that what his father did was wrong.
But, he said, that’s what ultimately helped mend their relationship.
“It was us who were hitting rock bottom in our relationship, but it forced us to face some of the fundamental issues in our relationship and actually made things between him and me a lot better over time, because that we had to talk about it,’ he said.
“It’s funny that this time in my life with him was maybe the saving grace of our relationship, in that he really blew things up.
‘There was no more pretending. We were both able to agree, like, this is very fucked up. And now we have to talk about it. We cannot pretend that all is well between us,” he said.
I Love My Dad, which also stars Rachel Dratch, won the Grand Jury Prize for Narrative Feature at SXSW.