James Morosini And Claudia Sulewski On Their New Film I Love My Dad - Exclusive Interview

You may have seen James Morosini as Coach Dalton in HBO's "The Sex Lives of College Girls," or in both the "Roanoke" and "Cult" seasons of "American Horror Story." In his new film, the actor is stepping into an entirely new role based on none other than his real life self.

For his new film "I Love My Dad," James Morosini wore several caps, as the story's inspiration, its lead actor, and writer-director. The dramatic comedy also stars comic veteran Patton Oswalt playing Morosini's father, and SNL alum Rachel Dratch. 

Morosini's love interest in the film, actress Claudia Sulewski, began her career on YouTube, becoming a correspondent and host for Teen Vogue before pursuing acting as her primary venture. Fans may also know the actress from her spot-on social media presence or recognize Sulewski with her partner Finneas, AKA Billie Eilish's singer-songwriter brother

In the stars' exclusive interview with The List, Claudia Sulewski and James Morosini told us about the onset atmosphere of "I Love My Dad," their creative experimentation in both acting and directing, and what fans can look forward to when they see the film in theaters. 

Director James Morosini gave the actors plenty of freedom on set

First of all, what was the atmosphere like on set? Were there any favorite days from filming? 

James Morosini: Do you want to take this one, Claudia?

Claudia Sulewski: Any day that I got to do something physically out of the ordinary, like stepping out of a freezer or climbing on top of a kitchen counter and eating Fruity Pebbles were all really fun, because it set the tone for a very playful experience. That's definitely what Imaginary Becca was for me, which is a very playful character that allowed a lot of room to do whatever I want in terms of her mannerisms and how she spoke and stuff. That was really fun. What about yourself?

Morosini: My goal directorially is to try to create an environment where everyone feels comfortable pitching ideas. I was trying to create an environment where that was the case, where people felt comfortable, and they had license for freedom of expression, could try things. That was encouraged. I wanted to push people as far as they were willing to go. 

In terms of memorable experiences on set, shooting the driving stuff was fun. Some of Claudia's scenes are pretty incredible. Her performance in the diner was particularly memorable. Claudia brings this magnetic energy to the screen. I don't know how she does it, but I was blown away by her performance every day, really.

Sulewski: Gosh, that's so sweet. I feel the same about you.

The actor felt vulnerable telling his own story

What was the experience like bringing a film to life that was based on real events, either as an actor, or as you as the director?

James Morosini: I've always been a fan of movies where I can tell [that] the storyteller or the filmmaker or whoever is letting us into their inner world. I was aspiring as much as I could to tear myself open with this movie and explore, in an honest way, my relationship with my dad and my relationship to social media and see how those two things coalesced. It definitely feels very vulnerable putting [it] out into the world, but it feels greatly rewarding to be able to share so much of myself in something that I'm so proud of.

Claudia, did it impact your performance in any way to be playing a character who's based on someone in real life, based on someone based on...

Claudia Sulewski: It did, it allowed for so much to play with. This is a little fun fact that I feel we need to share more because it was so serendipitous to discover: James' dad's name is Claudio in real life, one letter off from mine, which felt like one of those moments where you're like, "Okay, so this is really meant to be, huh?" 

I'm essentially playing his dad, but that made Imaginary Becca so much fun because we got to pick and choose those moments when I was playing the sort of idyllic version of a lady. I'm actually that vessel for Chuck to blurt out, "Let's play chess!" Things like that, [made it] very fun to get to go back and forth and play with it.

I Love My Dad is a can't-miss movie in theaters

What was it like working with a seasoned comedian like Patton Oswalt? Did he give you any advice? Did you have to build chemistry in any particular way?

James Morosini: Both Pat and I are obsessed with movies so we would spend a lot of time watching movies together. We spent a lot of time working through the story and bringing as much of our respective personal lives to the narrative as we possibly could. Patton is known for his comedy, but he has tremendous heart and invested all of that into each moment throughout the story. I was often very impressed by him, and he brings this levity to set, and he's very silly and warm. It was a tough shoot being an actor and director in it, but I love the guy and I'm so proud of his work in the film.

Claudia Sulewski: I feel exactly the same.

I'm sure everyone's really excited about the movie. Any final thoughts?

Morosini: I would encourage people to go see it in theaters. It's definitely a movie that people are going to be very vocal during, and watching it in theaters around the country has been a really special experience that I wouldn't want anyone to miss out on.

Sulewski: The gasps, the laughs, the shouts — it's a whole experience.

"I Love My Dad" is now playing in select theaters and is available for purchase and rental digitally and on demand.

This interview has been edited for clarity.