John Gabriel Rodriquez Shares What Living and Loving On Fantasy Island Has Taught Him

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FOX's Fantasy Island is a magical, idyllic tropical paradise where guests are welcomed to their holiday adventure by their elegant hostesses and the dashingly charming head of transportation, Javier.

As Javier, John Gabriel Rodriquez's brilliant smile and confident approach to piloting, whether by sea or air, is a warm and comforting entry point to what invariably proves to be a life-changing experience.

Speaking with TV Fanatic via Zoom from his home in Los Angeles, Rodriquez is just as affable and eloquently thoughtful as his on-screen character.

John Gabriel Rodriquez Lead - Fantasy Island

The current series is a revival of the original Ricardo Montalbán-anchored series that premiered in 1978 and went on to seven seasons of guest star-studded, fantastical must-see TV.

Before booking the role of Javier, Rodriquez understood the cultural phenomenon his series was built on.

Eyes on the Horizon - Fantasy Island

"My dad was a huge fan of the show. So was my mom. It was a little bit before my time, but I've definitely always known about Fantasy Island.

"It was this huge show, y'know. Huge IP. So, yeah, definitely, it was in the peripheral at all times. Then I read the pilot, and I thought, 'I want to be a part of this.' And I got lucky enough to be a part of it. "

On Fantasy Island Season 2 Episode 5, we glimpse a pre-Javier Fantasy Island in a series of flashbacks in Elena's memory. Back then, a taciturn pilot named Cora brought guests to the Island with perfunctory skill. It begs the question: How did Javier go about getting his job?

"That's a great question! You know what? I want to explore that. I need to talk to the writers. There's some backstory that we should learn about. Like how do people get [to work] on this island?

"The Island brings guests. It calls them to be a part of the Island. I think it probably does the same thing with employees. There's something they need from the Island, something that the Island needs from them.

Stepping Out Together - Fantasy Island Season 2 Episode 1

"Ruby's situation was that way. I like to think Javier's situation was the same way, and maybe Javier was brought to the Island to help soften Elena. To give Elena another part of her life that she needs. And the Island knew that. That's a cool concept."

Rodriquez has had a full actor's plate since being promoted to series regular between Seasons 1 and 2.

Poor Javier hasn't had a moment to catch his breath between his romantic relationship with Elena blossoming and the sudden arrival on Fantasy Island Season 2 Episode 2 of Helena, the grown daughter he never knew he had.

It's challenges like this that drive Rodriquez's enthusiasm for his work.

"He's had kind of an emotional whirlwind, from good things to not-so-good things to surprises to all of a sudden back down again. I love it. As an actor, I love playing it. I want things like that. I wanna have conflict in this character's life, and I want to be able to play those things.

Explaining Himself - Fantasy Island Season 2 Episode 9

"So it's been great because, in life, not everything is good all the time. We go through ups and downs, so that's what people are seeing. When I read some comments, people are so invested in Elena and Javi's relationship. I love reading those things.

"Now that we've kind of split, you read, and people really want us back together. I love hearing that. So, it's fun to play. That's what I'll say. I love playing those emotional moments."

Those emotional moments deepen the bonds between all the principal characters. Does Rodriquez consider the stakes higher now in terms of the audience's investment in the show?

"I think that's a nail on the head right there. As we go along, you see these characters' development. You see Ruby and Elena and Javier all getting closer. How does the Island react to their enmeshing together as well?"

The Dip - Fantasy Island Season 2 Episode 1

Fantasy Island's setting is vital in creating the vibe of the show. Filmed in Puerto Rico, Rodriquez describes how geography affects production.

"It's great. We were there for five months this past year. So you really get to learn the culture. The crew that we work with, the local crew, is fantastic.

"I had the privilege of staying in a condo right across from the water. It was beautiful. On my days off, I was right there. I was constantly in the water, at the beach.

"It rains a lot, and the rain's unpredictable sometimes. But that's all part of it. It's definitely Island Life. You're on Island Time [as the locals say], which, when I first got there, [was] kind of hard to get used to.

Likes Walks on the Beach - Fantasy Island

"But after a couple months, you're like, this is the way people live, man. Maybe there's something to this, y'know? They're enjoying life. They're really enjoying life. I'm in L.A., so [it's] much, much slower paced than being in L.A., but it's nice to have that break.

"I really, really enjoyed my time there. I hope we get a chance to go back for Season 3."

Javier is a man of many skills. Rodriquez admits he had to add to his tool kit to portray the ex-military, rainforest-wandering, Silver Bullet-living transportation Guy Friday.

"I learned to drive a boat for Season 2. I think I was there for three or four days. I was just out on the water [during my time off], driving the boat around. Docking it.

"That was really fun. I've only done that one time previously. They only showed a little bit of it. I was telling all my friends, 'Yeah, yeah, I got to drive this boat. And it was awesome!' And then, when I saw it, I was just, 'Aw, man, they just used a very small portion of it.'"

Over the Shoulder - Fantasy Island

Fantasy Island's trademark -- both in the O.G. series and now -- is the parade of spectacular guest stars who visit the Island as guests.

Most recently, on Fantasy Island Season 2 Episode 8, Marie Osmond portrayed Shay, a country music star who has lost her muse. While looking for inspiration, she finds Javier a deliciously attractive diversion.

What was it like fielding flirtations from a superstar like Osmond?

"Marie was awesome. Man, she was great. I didn't know what to anticipate from her, but she's such a loving soul. She was incredible.

"She's been on top for decades, and she was just such a kind-hearted individual. Marie and I actually got to have some really in-depth conversations. She's a good person. Like a really good person. I was very happy that I had a chance to meet her."

Figuring Things Out - Fantasy Island Season 2 Episode 8

As a resident of the magical Island, Javier has lived out a fantasy of his own, but if Rodriquez were to visit Fantasy Island as a guest, what would the Island do for him?

"I would want to travel and be in different eras of this world. That's what I would want to do. Explore them as different people.

"Maybe I was a gunslinger in the Wild West, or maybe I was a king or a prince in the medieval times. Maybe I was a knight fighting for the love of some woman. That's what I would like to do. That'd be fun for me."

He laughs when we point out that his fantasy sounds an awful lot like acting. Has he brought anything from previous roles to this one?

Javier the Pilot - Fantasy Island Season 1 Episode 1

"Every job is different, and I think that you walk into every job knowing that. It's kind of interesting as an actor, we have this confidence for every new job, but there are nerves there too because you wanna just do a really good job.

"Every scene is different. The thing I bring with me from my other jobs is the familiarity with being on set and having played those roles.

"And you can tell the difference between jobs. Some jobs, there's a lot of tension in the air. From the crew, the director, whoever. Other jobs, there's not.

"We're so lucky that we're on this beautiful island. It's very hard for people to get extremely tense because you're surrounded by beauty. That really helps the mood when you're on set as an actor. There's an easygoingness.

"And the directors have been fantastic, and all of them have been very accommodating, so we've been very lucky with that as well."

Javier of the Jungle - Fantasy Island

When pressed on where Fantasy Island Season 2 may go next, Rodriquez hints there may be more challenges for the Island team.

"You know what? This is a feel-good show, but you never know with the Island, so keep an eye out."

What do you think, Fanatics? What sort of curveball does the Island have in store? Hit our comments with your best guesses!

While you're there, go ahead and weigh in on our favorite Island relationship! Javier and Elena. Will they? Won't they? Should they?

Tune in and dive in when Fantasy Island returns with all-new episodes on April 10 at 9 pm on FOX.

Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She is a lifelong fan of smart sci-fi and fantasy media, an upstanding citizen of the United Federation of Planets, and a supporter of AFC Richmond 'til she dies. Her guilty pleasures include female-led procedurals, old-school sitcoms, and Bluey. She teaches, knits, and dreams big. Follow her on Twitter.

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Fantasy Island Quotes

Every fantasy runs its natural course and your's has just begun.


On Fantasy Island, you’ll find it’s best to meet people where they’re at without judgment.