Starting 17 February 2022, AXN Asia, is inviting fans to the luxury resort of Fantasy Island. The updated reboot of the series is headlined by Roselyn Sanchez and John Gabriel Rodriquez.

The 10-episode fantasy drama series will premiere regionally in Southeast Asia on February 17, with new episodes releasing on AXN (Singtel TV Ch 304 and StarHub TV Ch 511) every Thursday at 9.45pm.

For those who may not know, this updated take on Fantasy Island serves as a reboot of sorts, with ties related to the iconic 70s TV series. In this updated take, Roselyn Sanchez portrays Elena Roarke, the steward of the mysterious island and a descendant of the iconic Mr. Roarke from the original series.

The story of Fantasy Island does not deviate far from the original series. On this mysterious island, literally any fantasy requested by guests is fulfilled, although they rarely turn out as expected. In each episode, pilot, and head of island transportation Javier, played by John Gabriel Rodriquez flies guests from all walks of life to the beautiful island to live out their fantasies, albeit for a price.

In this interview, the actor discusses his involvement in the new series, his own fantasies and what audiences can expect from this highly-anticipated remake.

John Gabriel Rodriquez Fantasy Island
John Gabriel Rodriquez plays ‘Javier’ in Fantasy Island

Describe your character in your own words.

I play Javier, and Javier is the head of transportation for the island. Ex-military, saw some things in different campaigns overseas that really shook him to the core. And I think he has a lot of stuff to deal with internally. He found the island and he’s searching for the answer. I think he is searching for forgiveness and just kind of a healing and the island is providing him that oftentimes without him even knowing. And he’s developed a bond with Elena and that bond is beginning to grow.

What would be your wish, your fantasy if you were a regular guest on the island? What would you like to do or to receive from the island?

I think my fantasy would be to have a new fantasy given to me each day. Is that greedy? I think if the island did provide something for me, that would be a cool experience for me. Maybe I want to fly one day, maybe that’s a fantasy of mine. Maybe I want to be transported somewhere else. I want to visit a beautiful location. Maybe I want some healing from a past grievance or something like that. So, I think for me, it would just be a day-to-day thing if I was on the island forever, that’s what I’d want in my life.

From left: Roselyn Sanchez and John Gabriel Rodriquez in a scene from the series

What’s the biggest challenge about taking on this role you have in the show?

I would say for me, Javier’s a new character, someone that’s fresh. The pressure’s not on me like Roselyn, but she nailed it. I mean, it’s such an iconic character that she had to come in and do a different, you know, take just because of the gender. And it’s a new time. I think the most difficult part and most challenging aspect of it is just maybe trying to find those moments because we’re doing something a little different. Also, with Javier and Elena, trying to find those moments. And then I think that the practical challenges of when we were filming in Puerto Rico, I think, were some of the biggest ones. It was very windy and a lot of rain so those were the most challenging aspects for me.

How much you think fantasies have changed between the 70s was the initial show until today with what you know, what is different in people’s fantasies nowadays?

I think human nature is still human nature. We all still have desire, and struggle with guilt and shame and all those kinds of things. I do believe that we’ve hopefully evolved more from hundreds and thousands of years ago in terms of how we react and do these things. So maybe there’s less of us that have some of these just guttural, instinctive desires, and maybe those aren’t so good anymore. I agree with the two ladies. Maybe it is just a simpler fantasy now, to be happy and to be content with life.

We live in a time full of revivals, reboots, and remakes, so why do you think we are so nostalgic? Maybe there’s some edgy fantasy that is like the island of the show?

I was in a coffee shop a couple of days ago, and the owners, I’ve become very close with the owners, but I just overheard them talking about the different reboots that’s happening. And they said that they enjoy it because it takes it back to a simpler time of life. They mentioned Fantasy Island and I didn’t say anything because I just wanted to hear what they said. They literally said that it took them back to a simpler time. And they’re right because I think we’re being pulled in so many directions now.

There are so many things that’s on our mind and we’re divided instead of having those moments of nostalgia and simpler times like peace, relaxation, and fun, so I think people are hungry for that. They want to turn off the news and they don’t want to hear about the troubles of the world. They just want to decompress, so I think that’s why people are nostalgic for this type of shows and reboots.

John Gabriel Rodriquez Fantasy Island
John Gabriel Rodriquez

Tell us a little bit about what is the emotional challenge for each character in this first season.

I would say with me, Javier’s dealing with some issues of regret, and he made some decisions which turned out badly for someone else, and it affected him. I was saying earlier that in my own life, I try not to dabble into the past. What I could have done should have done differently because it just kind of antagonizes my soul. I think the emotional challenge for Javier is not letting the emotionality of it affect him so much but just live in the present moment and realizing those things happen for a reason. And just to keep moving forward. And I think that’s what the islands providing for.

Where is your fantasy professionally as an actor and as an actress?

For me, I just want to play a variety of characters from all over the spectrum. I want to play messy characters, uptight characters, alcoholics, an addict. I want to play everything, good, bad, ugly, and hopefully have good performances from these delicious characters.

If you could pick one word to describe the character. What would you say and why?

I would say weather for Javier as he’s been through a lot. He has seen things that were detrimental to him that created impressions on him, so he’s coloured, and he still weathers the storm.

(Images and interview courtesy of AXN-Asia)

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