Roselyn Sanchez returns as Elena Roarke, the owner of a remarkable island resort, as season one of Fantasy Island comes to a conclusion. It’s a festive-themed season finale, which sees Roarke being tested in surprising new ways when a high-flying businesswoman not only desires a perfect Christmas, but also wants to meet her ideal man. And that’s not all: Mr Jones decides it’s time to finally face his past, while a new Secret Santa tradition soon has Ruby and Javier looking towards the future.
With credits such as Devious Maids, Without a Trace, and The Game Plan, to name a few, the Puerto Rican-born actress says her new role was unexpected. Furthermore, she said it was a rewarding experience to see her hometown, Puerto Rico, feature in the show.
Q: Fantasy Island was an adaptation of the original long-running series between the 70s and 80s. Have you identified any differences between the original and the remake that you are staring in?
A: The main thing that is going to jump on everyone is that the two main characters are female, not male. And they are women of colour. The original was shot in sound stages, and this new one is shot in Puerto Rico – it’s outdoors, there are exteriors, the actual beach, there is sand, and the plane is real. It’s visually stunning. The original was a lot darker and mysterious. This one is a little less tense and has more comedy to it. I love it. It’s the reimagining of the original, which is more timely and relevant in our age.
Q: How do you prepare for your character?
A: The original was [shot] in the 70s. I was very young, but I remember it well. I watched YouTube videos to study the character of Ricardo Montalbán who was the main character. He’s my great uncle [in the series] so I wanted to adopt some of his mannerisms, and pay tribute to him, but still different enough. He was such a regal character. I was able to grab what I liked and brought a little bit of me. It’s been awesome to do.
Q: Does the show demonstrate the consequences of living out one’s fantasy?
A: The show covers so many things. We all have dreams and wishes, regardless of whether they are good or bad for us. The island knows what you need but provides something different and better. It puts you on a journey to understand and accept that what you are being taught is better than your wildest dreams. People come in with an idea, and they leave accomplishing so much more than that.
Q: Did your family join you while you were filming in Puerto Rico?
A: Yes. In the first season, my husband (Eric Winter) did an episode. It was funny because he was on hiatus for his show. I was in Puerto Rico for four months so he came with the kids. They stayed for a month-and-half. I told the show-runners Eric is here and suggested that they consider featuring him. He appeared as a guest star. It was our second time acting together, and we loved it. I’ve done an episode of his show, and now he did an episode of my show.
Q: The original season was dark. How is this one different?
A: I’m going to tell you a little secret. When I signed up to do it, it was darker. I’ll never forget that we did the first table read of the episode, and even the teaser was shocking. The table read includes all the cast guests, executives, and producers together and we read out aloud for them. They realised that they don’t want to do something dark, instead creating escapism, and a good time – we want people to laugh. The whole premise changed to make it lighter. Nowadays that’s what the audience craves. Things are so shady around the world, and you want to be able to smile.
Q: What did you enjoy the most about Fantasy Island?
A: I feel so blessed to be part of such an important intellectual property. Playing Elena has been so uplifting for me. The main thing is that I’m doing it back home, and being with my parents and family.
Q: Was this opportunity important for the economy of Puerto Rico?
A: This was incredibly important to me as Puerto Rico’s economy has taken a bit of a hit as a result of hurricanes, earthquakes, and Covid-19. It’s a small island with a lot of potential. The film industry is growing there, and a project of this magnitude employs a lot of people. I’m happy to have been part of the equation.
Q: Fantasy Island only premiered in South Africa in July. What can viewers expect?
A: You can expect a wild ride. Guests come in one way, they leave the island differently.
Q: Describe your character, Elena?
A: She’s complicated. She’s a three-dimensional character, difficult to understand at times, but she leads with love. She helps the guests navigate through this experience – sometimes it’s humour, sometimes it’s tough love. Sometimes there’s even judgement. When I read the script it gives me goosebumps.
Q: Is diversity important for you when you take on a project?
A: Yes, very important. It’s the only way for me. I’m an actress who looks and speaks very specifically, as I have an accent. This whole new boom of inclusion and diversity is great for me. They finally value that you don’t have to speak generic English. The world is multicultural.
Q: How important is it for us to hold onto fantasies?
A: A show like this allows viewers to sit down and not think too much because you’re going to enjoy the storyline, which is aesthetically pleasing.
Q: Why should your fans watch Fantasy Island?
A: You guys are going to love it. Every frame is like a postcard. The story is beautiful and the setting is visually uplifting. If you want to have an hour of relaxation, this is the right show for you.