ABC Family introduced The Vineyard star Jon Franco ‘16.5 as “the All-American pre-med student; Jonathan has this summer to let loose before he has to focus all of his attention on school. A self-described ‘player,’ Jon loves women but doesn’t want to be tied down. He won’t let anything distract him from becoming the first doctor in his family, but could a potential summer fling turn into something more and lead him away from his goal?”
Naturally, in the wise words of Phil Dunphy, I thought, “let me meet this playa.” Not yet three weeks into his first semester on College Hill, Brown’s very own mid-year sophomore transfer student sat down with me in the Blue Room to discuss whether or not starring on The Vineyard knocked Jon off his pre-med plan. If you are completely lost and have no idea what The Vineyard is, Jon essentially spent his summer “working” at the Black Dog on Martha’s Vineyard in exchange for living in a super sweet beach house with his fellow cast members. It’s like a preppy version of The Hills. Find out below what Jon listens to while working on his famous abs (seriously, he was always shirtless on the show–I thought this was ABC Family), his strangest fan encounter, and, obviously, whether you can find him greeting Gail at the Ratty or hitting up CFF at the V-Dub.
BlogDH: How did you get on the show?
Jon: I had an agent in Boston at the time, and I was mostly doing commercials, modeling, and print advertisements. One day I got an email for an ABC Family show. They contacted local agencies to find people that they thought fit “the look.” It took about three and a half months of on-camera auditions – them getting to know who I was, who my family was. Eventually I got the job, which was pretty amazing.
How many people did they interview?
Thousands and thousands.
How long was filming? Was it hard to be on camera all the time?
Eight weeks to film, about a week an episode roughly. The first couple weeks you’re kind of nervous when you get on camera. There’s a crew of thirty people behind you including lighting engineers, technicians. At first it’s nerve-wracking, but then you just try to be yourself and act natural without trying to act.
What do you think your role was on the show/in the house?
In my first conversations with the producers, The Vineyard was about a crossroads with occupation and relationship. With me, it was different to have a kid that was really focused; you know, I’m pre-med here, and they liked that aspect. The majority of my life I stayed single because I was so focused on school, so they pegged me as a player because I would bounce around from girl to girl. At first you might see me as the player, an asshole character, and it slowly unravels to see the reasons behind that. There was a lot more depth to each character. They wanted to show why something was and why it happened.
Favorite part of being on The Vineyard?
Waking up on the beach every day. Our house was amazing. I had never been to Martha’s Vineyard. The friendships we made are great. We have a group text. We’re best friends. You’re with each other non-stop and that really accelerates your relationship.
Did anything surprise you about being on the show?
At first there are a lot of expectations of reality shows being portrayed in a negative way. You see Jersey Shore, The Real World, so at first I was hesitant about how I’d be portrayed because I had a goal of going to med school. But after speaking with producers, we really got to know one another and they said they would portray me the way I want to be portrayed. That was huge for me because during editing you can twist and turn anything you want.
Do you keep in contact with the rest of the cast?
Daniel and I were really good friends. We keep in touch probably on a weekly basis. Me and Jackie keep in touch almost every day. Emily and I ended the summer together, which was good. After the summer we keep talking, kept hanging out, but over time that died out. We’ve been seeing other people.
We’re all hopeful to get back there. ABC Family just went under a president change so everything is technicalities. Right now it’s just a waiting game over the next couple of weeks.
Do you wear a lot of Black Dog?
I have shirts that I wore when I was working at the docks. Sometimes it’s my gym apparel, but I don’t want to be that guy.
How hard did you actually work on the show?
It was just a part-time gig to be affiliated with an iconic part of the island.
What was your favorite spot on Martha’s Vineyard?
Lucy Vincent Beach. It’s a beach “up island.” It’s covered with clay cliffs, huge waves. It’s famous for finding shark teeth. You dig through the cliffs and there’s just shark teeth everywhere.
Do you have a firm stance on the Vineyard/Nantucket debate?
I have never been to Nantucket, which I guess is an issue, but I’ve heard they’re similar. I love the Vineyard. You have towns like Edgartown and Oak Bluffs that are populated, yet you can drive “up island” and it’s totally different. Farmland, beautiful beaches. You get a mix of those two, which is cool.
Have you been recognized on campus?
Yes, very often. Every day, mainly in the gym. I went out one night and it was pretty weird at a party being recognized. At the mall here it’s just a joke. Malls are prime because it’s fourteen- and fifteen-year-old girls. It’s cool, though; they usually just want a picture and are nice about it.
Is dorm life comparable to living in the Black Dog house?
[Laughs] Not really; I’m not too excited about it. I did share a room with Lou on The Vineyard so I did have a roommate. I took nine months off of school after filming, so I’m not used to it.
Do you get fan mail?
I don’t get it to my house. I’ve had someone follow me 20 miles to my house before while my mom was driving. That was the weirdest one.
Are you still planning on doing pre-med?
As of now, yes. Ask me in three weeks when we hear about Season 2. I’m sticking to it now because it’s something I’m really interested in. It’s kind of all I really like. I’ll see how it goes after orgo. [Laughs]
Will you do any acting at Brown?
I was thinking of maybe doing a class or two. I was never really into plays since it’s a lot more dramatic. If I’m here next fall, then I’d consider it. It would be cool to be in front of an audience instead of a camera.
So what’s your favorite song at the moment?
I have a very, very obscure, random selection of music. I go from country to rap to techno really quickly.
Okay, so what’s playing on your iPod now?
[Takes out his phone] Now playing is Drake.
What’s your favorite song to workout to?
Maybe “Strangers” by Seven Lions.
Would you rather fight 1 horse-sized duck or 100 duck-sized horses?
1 horse-sized duck.
Ratty or V-Dub?
I’ve only been to the Ratty. V-Dub’s too far.