FOX Returns to ‘Fantasy Island,’ and Star Roselyn Sanchez Gives Us the Scoop

“The plane. The plane.” In 1977, TV audiences were introduced to the effervescent Tattoo (Hervé Villechaize) as he alerted his boss Mr. Roarke (Ricardo Montalban) to the arrival of guests to his mysterious island on Fantasy Island. For seven seasons fans enjoyed seeing dreams come true for many unpredictable guests, but some guests did live to regret their requests.

FOX returns to Fantasy Island Tuesdays (beginning Aug. 10) with a contemporary reboot, where Roselyn Sanchez stars as Elena Roarke, a descendant of Mr. Roarke. Previously, we have seen Sanchez as Carmen Luna in Devious Maids. Here Sanchez took a break from filming in her native Puerto Rico and shared what lies ahead for the series.

Your character, Elena Roarke, shares the same last name as the original overseer, Mr. Roarke. Who exactly is your character?
Roselyn Sanchez: My character is the grand-niece of Mr. Roarke. I have become a steward of the island the way he was. Every generation needs a new host from the family and it’s Elena’s turn.

How familiar were you with the series’ history when you were given the script? Did you go back and watch the original? I was young, but in Puerto Rico the show was huge. When you heard “The plane!” everyone knew we were talking about Fantasy Island. I watched original episodes to make sure I understood the genre. Adam Kane, who directed the first two episodes, told me, “Use Montalban as inspiration, but we want you to be able to be yourself.”

What excited you about this character and leading the series for a new generation? It’s wonderful to explore a new take, and as a woman this time. It was important to me to bring some humor to the whole thing because I feel she needs to be light and likable. I’m falling in love with her each day, which is great as an actress.

Give us some insight on a storyline we can look forward to. People come to the island, there is the want-versus-need type of dilemma. They come to the island wanting one thing, but of course, Elena comes in as a steward, as a host, and she becomes like a conduit and tries to make people understand that what they think they need might not be it. … A lot of times it is challenging. It could be scary. It could be funny. There’s different ways that the island goes about it, but it’s always intriguing and mysterious, and people are going to laugh and people are going to cry.

For example, somebody is terminally ill and they want to just have three days of feeling healthy and vibrant, almost like find the fountain of youth. Elena is there to teach them that there’s more to life than what they actually believe they need to be happy.

What’s it like working in Puerto Rico — your homeland? Have you been able to enjoy family during off days?  It’s amazing. I’m able to see my brothers, and my parents are here. So it’s fantastic for me. And to be able to bring my kids. My daughter is 9, my son is 3 and we live in Los Angeles, so being here for three months and for them to be able to spend time with us is so valuable and priceless. … I’ve been traveling and working since November and I haven’t been home. To be able to spend time with my family in Puerto Rico has been great.

We were at the beach, and I was looking around and thought about how amazing it is that I’m here in Puerto Rico, my homeland. I was born and raised here and we have a slogan that says, “We live where you vacation.” One of the locations, and there are many locations, is this beautiful beach resort in Puerto Rico. And I used to produce a triathlon for my foundation. And the third edition of the triathlon was at this location and they have a beautiful clubhouse and I baptized my daughter at that clubhouse. So every time I go to work, every single day, I just drive by this place that is so meaningful to me because that’s where my daughter got baptized. It’s really incredible how life works.

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