Lee From The Circle Is Kind Of Like The OG Catfish

He’s been faking his identity for years.

Lee on The Circle via the Netflix press site

As a full-time author, The Circle cast member Lee Swift said he’s kind of like “a professional liar.” That made him uniquely suited to be a catfish on the season. Instead of playing as his 58-year-old self, Lee is pretending to be River, a 24-year-old waiter and student who’s gay and recently went through a breakup. River’s personality is entirely fabricated, but Lee got some help from a friend to use his photos, and so far it seems to be working. As “River” continues his catfish journey on The Circle, here’s what you need to know about the contestant behind the character.

Lee Is An Author Who’s Written Many Books

On The Circle, Lee calls himself the original catfish, because he often writes novels under a pen name. His most popular persona is Kris Cook, who writes mostly romance novels. Cook’s works include BDSM romance novels like Misty's Bondage Diary, romance stories with a side of witchcraft like Primal Desires, and LGBTQ+ romance books like Holiday Beaus. He also writes books in collaboration with an author named Lana Lynn, who it turns out is his mother. Guess writing runs in the family, huh? The duo collaborated on the thriller Morvicti Blood as well as the two-book Men Without A Cause series, which are classified as romantic thrillers.

Lee’s most recent novel as Kris Cook came out on April 14 and is called Gabe's Story. The book follows an 18-year-old’s life after foster care as he comes to terms with his sexuality and tries to track down his first crush.

Lee’s Instagram Is Endearingly Un-Influencer-Like

Before he went on The Circle, Lee admitted that he had to get some help from his 20-year-old niece on the kinds of texting abbreviations young people use today. He’s managing to keep up appearances thus far on The Circle, but he tries way less hard in real life. As you can imagine, his Instagram presence is that of, well, a 58-year-old. He has cute posts of him building a greenhouse, spending time with his dog, and hanging out with his husband. His partner of 32 years doesn’t make many appearances online, but he can be spotted every once in a while — mostly on the “Kris Cook” Instagram page that Lee runs for his author persona.

Lee actually made sure his Circle character was coming off a bad breakup because he didn’t want to have to flirt with anyone on the show.

Lee also posts videos of himself talking directly to his fans, wishing them a good day and talking about things like the weather. It’s charming in how it’s completely the opposite of anything an influencer would do.

Lee’s downfall on the show may be if he lets too much of his regular personality infiltrate the character he’s built. He’s role-playing as someone much younger and hipper than he is, and that may be a hard act to keep up. Time will tell how he fares, but at least Lee has a lifetime of creating storylines for his books on his side. “River” is just one more character he has to write.