In 1977, creator Gene Levitt introduced the world to a place called Fantasy Island, on which the mysterious Mr. Roarke (Ricardo Montalban) would magically make his guests’ wildest dreams come true, in a TV show of the same name that lasted seven seasons. The hit quasi-anthology would later be remade twice, first as a short-lived series in the late '90s with Malcolm McDowell, and later as the horror flick often referred to as Blumhouse’s Fantasy Island in 2020.
But, for the first time since 1984, a new Fox TV show is continuing the story of the original with a new set of characters. However, you may recognize some of the actors from the Fantasy Island cast, such as your host for this vacation unlike any other.
Roselyn Sanchez (Elena Roarke)
As Elena Roarke, a descendent of Fantasy Island’s Mr. Roarke, we have the Roselyn Sanchez, who debuted in another tropical adventure - the 1992 comedy Captain Ron, starring Kurt Russell - before breaking out on As the World Turns and then appearing on another update of a classic TV series - Fame L.A. in 1997.
The Puerto Rican actress returned to films with 2001’s Rush Hour 2, then joined the Without a Trace cast in 2005, starred opposite Dwayne Johnson in Disney’s The Game Plan in 2007, and starred on another (primetime) soap opera, Lifetime’s Devious Maids, from 2013-2016. Sanchez’s most recent role as the proprietor of a beach vacation spot was on ABC’s Grand Hotel, and her directorial debut, Diario: Mujer y Café (about four women on a staycation) is in pre-production.
Kiara Barnes (Ruby Akuda)
Another soap opera vet in the new Fantasy Island cast is Kiara Barnes - whose character, Ruby Akuda, could be considered this sequel series’ answer to James Bond movies star Hervé Villechaize’s Tattoo: Mr. Roarke’s assistant, who was famous for his catchphrase, “The plane! The plane!” The Bold and the Beautiful actress has also starred on Stuck on You - an original drama from the streaming service Allblk (formerly known as the Urban Movie Channel) - and a Lifetime movie called The Wrong Wedding Planner, starring Kill Bill’s Vivica A. Fox. In between acting roles, Barnes also appeared on an episode of The Price is Right as a guest model in 2018.
John Gabriel Rodriguez (Javier)
The one flying the plane, the plane - named Javier - is played by John Gabriel Rodriguez, who's also done some soap opera work (an uncredited role on General Hospital in 2007), Lifetime movies (as a border patrol agent in Justice for Natalee Holloway), and various other guest and recurring parts in TV shows like Homeland or with the Vampire Diaries cast or NCIS. His biggest movie role to date was a small part in Allegiant, the third installment of the Divergent movies from 2016, and Fantasy Island marks his first time as a TV series regular.
Bellamy Young (Christine)
On the guest list for Fantasy Island Season 1, we have a news anchor wishing to indulge in her gluttonous appetite without the usual consequences, played by Bellamy Young, who also earned an impressive resume of guest star and recurring roles with The West Wing cast and the Criminal Minds cast, to name a few, before becoming a series regular on Shonda Rhimes’ Scandal and the short-lived psychological thriller Prodigal Son more recently.
She is also known for movies like 2002’s We Were Soldiers with Mel Gibson, the third of the Mission: Impossible movies from 2006, and director Ava DuVernay’s 2017 A Wrinkle in Time remake. Young has also joined the cast of another upcoming reboot of a classic TV series: The Waltons: Homecoming, which is now in pre-production for The CW.
Dave Annable (Zev)
Playing a man who travels to Fantasy Island hoping to spice up his marriage is Dave Annable, who is best known for playing Justin Walker on Brothers and Sisters, which he followed with ABC’s short-lived 666 Park Avenue - another supernatural drama about wish fulfillment (but with a price). The actor has also been in rom-coms like Little Black Book with the late Brittany Murphy or 2011’s What’s Your Number?, alongside Anna Faris and Marvel movies star Chris Evans, before signing on for a couple medical dramas (Heartland on NBC, and another short-lived ABC original called Red Band Society).
He would later land a guest spot with the Yellowstone cast, star opposite Oscar winner Renée Zellwegger in the Netflix miniseries What/If (not to be confused with Marvel’s What If…? on Disney+), and more recently appear on This Is Us in 2020.
Odette Annable (Daphne)
Playing Dave Annable’s wife on Fantasy Island is his real-life spouse, Odette Annable, who met her husband while appearing on Brothers & Sisters - one of her many notable recurring TV show roles (including on Arrowverse series Supergirl, and Banshee on Cinemax). She made her acting debut at age 5 in Kindergarten Cop and would later grow up to become a bit of a scream queen with her starring role in 2008’s Cloverfield and as the lead of The Unborn the following year.
After joining the cast of the prematurely cancelled Thirtysomething(else) - another reboot of a classic series - Yustman was luckily promoted to series regular on The CW’s Walker Season 2, opposite Jared Padalecki.
Debbi Morgan (Eileen)
As a woman burdened by the absence of her children is Debbi Morgan, yet another soap opera veteran (from a plethora of titles, including All My Children) in the Fantasy Island cast, but that is not the peak of her stamp on TV history. After a few uncredited movie appearances (including 1976’s Taxi Driver), the actress appeared on iconic sitcoms Good Times and What's Happening!!, in Roots: The Next Generations (a sequel to the legendary miniseries), the supernatural drama Charmed as The Seer, and the hit Starz original series Power and its sequel, Power Book II: Ghost, more recently. Morgan is also known for movies like The Hurricane with Denzel Washington, Coach Carter with Samuel L. Jackson, and Netflix’s Sextuplets with Marlon Wayans.
Leslie Jordan (TBA)
Leslie Jordan is set to play an artist longing to reunite with his late apprentice for what is sure to be a scene-stealing appearance on Fantasy Island. Such has been the 66-year-old’s specialty for years, like on a few American Horror Story seasons, as Emma Stone’s boss (Mr. Blackly) in The Help, and, of course, his Emmy-winning recurring role in the Will & Grace cast as closeted Republican socialite Beverly Leslie. The openly gay actor more recently had a starring role on the short-lived Fox sitcom The Cool Kids, a guest voice appearance on the animated comedy The Great North, and joined the Call Me Kat cast - led by former The Big Bang Theory cast member Mayim Bialik.
Laura Leighton (TBA)
One episode of the new Fantasy Island promises a reunion of three actresses from the original Melrose Place cast, including Laura Leighton, who would later join the Beverly Hill, 90210 cast and also reprise her role of Sydney Andrews on the short-lived Melrose Place reboot in 2009. Speaking of popular teen dramas, she later joined the Pretty Little Liars cast, following a long history of guest spots on crime procedurals like CSI: Miami and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Most recently, Leighton appeared on another revival of a classic TV series: the new reboot of Dynasty on the CW.
Josie Bissett (TBA)
After starting off her acting career in movies like the Italian-produced 1989 slasher Hitcher in the Dark, and in a small role in Oliver Stone’s The Doors biopic, Josie Bissett became best known from Melrose Place as Laura Leighton’s onscreen adoptive sister, Jane Andrews. She would also reprise that part in the reboot, after joining the cast of another popular teen drama, The Secret Life of the American Teenager on Freeform (when it was still ABC Family), in 2008. Many of the actress’ other notable credits in the last several years have been the Hallmark original series When Calls the Heart and also Hallmark movies, such as the six installments of The Wedding March series, which also stars fellow Melrose Place alum Jack Wagner.
Daphne Zuniga (Margot)
Laura Leighton and Josie Bissett will also be joined by their fellow Melrose Place veteran, Daphne Zuniga, who was previously best known for the classic 1987 Star Wars movies parody from writer, director, and star Mel Brooks, Spaceballs, as Princess Vespa - whom she would reprise for the animated series spin-off in 2008.
After a diverse variety of TV guest star appearances (such as a voice role on Batman Beyond, Ryan Murphy’s Nip/Tuck, and NBC’s American Dreams), she later landed a long-running recurring role in the One Tree Hill cast before doing doing a few Hallmark movies herself. Zuniga also recently reunited with another Melrose Place alum, Jason Priestly, for the Lifetime original miniseries Heaven, based on the book by Flowers in the Attic author V.C. Andrews.
With a trio of Melrose Place alumni and a few scream queens, too, the new Fantasy Island cast looks to be quite a magical ensemble. See for yourself when the new series debuts on Fox, Tuesday, August 10, at 9 p.m. EST.
Jason has been writing since he was able to pick up a washable marker, with which he wrote his debut illustrated children's story, later transitioning to a short-lived comic book series and (very) amateur filmmaking before finally settling on pursuing a career in writing about movies in lieu of making them. Look for his name in just about any article related to Batman.
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