An ordinary guy from Long Island, New York, became popular after he started regularly impersonating Family Guy’s, Peter Griffin. The character from the American adult animated show is undoubtedly, extremely popular and immensely loved. For Robert Franzese, it was different. What started as casual impersonation went on to grab the attention of millions of social media users and even the makers.
Robert, now dubbed as the ‘Real Life Peter Griffin’, discovered back in 2012 his impressive ability to morph into many characters including that of Griffin. His uncanny impressions of the animated character aided him to fulfill the greatest dream of any mimic. His public appearance, where he dressed up as Griffin for the very first time was at 2012’s New York Comic-Con. Two years later, Robert returned with a documentary film crew, was even referenced on the sitcom by Seth MacFarlane himself.
So how did this transition happen and what events ensued?
Robert detailed his journey over the last nine years while interacting with LADBible. “I decided to go to the Con dressed as characters, and if you’re familiar with the character Ghost Rider, there’s a Western version of him,” shared the impostor. Being his first time ever dressing up as a character at a convention, Robert had fun. Soon after, he realised he could not wear something like that to the Con the following day after he got a heat stroke in the costume. It was then that he teamed up with his claim to fame.
Robert was thinking of something more comfortable and he found Griffin’s shirt and pants sitting in his closet. He expressed, “I just happened to have everything, it was like the planets aligned, everything was in the house.” It was until he grabbed a set of round glasses that everything just “came together.” His outing turned out to be a success as the entire entourage kept following him. Robert thought the day that gave him 15 minutes of fame was one hell of a cool day but had come to an end.
In July next year, out of nowhere, Robert saw that a social media user had posted the impersonator’s video from the 2012 Con and “it was blowing up on Reddit." Robert felt confident and started dressing up as Griffin everywhere. Things hit a peak only last year for him when he was actually mentioned on the show.
In 2019, during episode 16 of season 17, MacFarlane spoke to the characters of the show and mentioned they weren’t actually real. He said, “None of you are real, you are all TV characters voiced by me, Alex Borstein, Seth Green, and Mila Kunis."
To this, the actual Peter Griffin responded saying, “Wait, what? Hang on a second, if I’m not real, then why does a fat nerd pretend to be me at every Comic-Con?"
“Please, don’t mention him, it’ll only encourage him,” insisted MacFarlane. What may have felt like a roast to others, to Robert, it was nothing less than a once-in-a-lifetime achievement award. The NYC mimic claimed, “It’s like, that’s when you know you’ve made it.”