Interview: Tyler Francavilla from ROOMMATES

Tyler Francavilla

Recently, Daemon’s TV took part in a conference call with TYLER FRANCAVILLA who plays Mark on ABC Family’s original series, ROOMMATES.

Tyler Francavilla talked about what attracted him to the show, the chemistry between the cast members, his own roommates experiences, and more.

Don’t forget to watch Roommates Mondays at 9pm on ABC Family.

For now, enjoy Tyler Francavilla’s interview below.

What originally made you want to be a part of “Roommates”?

Tyler Francavilla: Well, I have to say the character of Mark is a lot like myself in a lot of ways, which was very appealing to me to begin with. It’s actually kind of difficult to play a role that’s a lot like yourself. I found that challenging and also very fun. Mark is a struggling actor living in New York and he’s sort of a hopeless romantic and has been pining after the same girl since high school. I found I had a lot in common with Mark and obviously being an actor and having been, working at it for quite a long time and growing up in New York and everything, there was a lot of that character that I identified with and a bit of the hopeless romantic part as well.

Is there anything you found challenging about the role?

Tyler Francavilla: Well, yes, definitely, like I said, being to close myself, it is sort of a fine line trying to portray someone that is a lot like yourself and being able to kind of laugh at yourself a little bit and see the things that you do that other people notice about you that, I don’t know, either quirky or funny or a little bit odd.

Was there instant cast chemistry when everyone first came together or did it take a bit of time to develop?

Tyler Francavilla: No, I have to say it was pretty instantaneous. We all bonded immediately and I feel like that was the, one of the best parts about this job and playing this role is that I made some of the best friends I’ve had working on this show. We all immediately got along so well and started hanging out a lot. I feel like it really comes through in the work when you see the show and as the show develops. I think you really start to see our friendships forming and the bonds that we created, I think really comes through and I think it’s going to be a big, big part of why the show would be successful if it is.

Since there’s only four roommates really, what’s the story on Thom?

Tyler Francavilla: Well, Thom, who’s played by David Weidoff, he is Mark’s best friend from college. He is a quirky, kind of goofball character who’s always trying maybe a little bit too hard at times to be a part of the group and work his way in to be friends with everyone. But he’s also, as goofy and weird as he is, he’s also Mark’s best friend and he’s who Mark goes to for advice when he needs to turn to somebody and he actually occasionally does give Mark some good words of wisdom.

So technically, he’s not one of the roommates, but he’s like a fixture, I guess, he’s always there.

Tyler Francavilla: Yes, yes, he’s always hanging around and he doesn’t live too far away. Hopefully, they’ll have him moving in a little bit closer later on down the line.

It sounds like there’s some tension between you and Hope. So how do Katie and James get along?

Tyler Francavilla: They seem to get along just fine. Mark is the one entering the atmosphere. He’s the one entering the apartment and disrupting the way things are. So Katie and Hope are great friends and they all seem to get along well enough with James. Everyone sort of takes James with a grain of salt, him being a little bit cocky maybe or a little bit egocentric, but a lovable guy nonetheless.

What’s been the funniest moment for you so far?

Tyler Francavilla: Well, we’ve had some pretty wild experiences. I’d say one of the best weeks we had was we had Marilu Henner guest start on the show playing James’ mom, and that was quite a thrill to have her come. And we had a great time with her, she was hilarious, and she’s going to be fantastic on the show, so that’s one to look out for.

How did you get the part? Did you have to audition for it?

Tyler Francavilla: Yes, I did and it was kind of one of those perfect timing situations. I’ve been working as an actor for a long time and I’ve had my ups and downs and had times where I was working a bit, and other times where I wasn’t really working much at all. This part came along and I read the script and I just looked at it and I said, “I know who this guy is.” Like I said earlier, he’s so much like myself that it wasn’t that difficult to decipher who this guy was for me. It was just one of those situations where I went in just thinking whether or not they like me I know that this is a part that I could do and I’m going to do my best to show them that I could be this guy. I went in, and from what they’ve told me, they were on board with me pretty early on, so I felt really fortunate that it was just kind of a kismet situation. I was really looking for something like this to come along and it came at the perfect time.

How did you get started in acting?

Tyler Francavilla: Well, actually, I grew up in New York on Long Island. My mom, who is an artist, was always very encouraging of any interests that me or my brothers had in the arts whatsoever, so we were taking pottery classes when we were kids and all that kind of stuff. I had an interest in acting from a young age. I was the middle child, so I was obviously starved for attention, as we all are, and I got interested in acting, so she put me into an acting class. Through that acting class, I met a manager and then met an agent and slowly started to audition a little bit as I was in high school and in New York City. After that, I went to college and came out to LA and just continued it. That was pretty much how it all began, so I have to attribute it all to my mom.

You’ve been on TV and in movies, do you have a preference or is one harder than the other?

Tyler Francavilla: No, I like it all. I’m actually down here in Austin, Texas right now for the South by Southwest Film Festival for a film that I did last year called The Two Bobs. That was like an amazing experience, but then again, those were long days and long hours in the sweltering heat of Austin. And then I got to turn around and go back to LA in the soundstage and have like a ton of fun doing Roommates with some of my best friends, which was another equally fulfilling experience, but in a completely different way. So I like to do it all. I also love theatre. That’s what I grew up doing as kid. It’s what got me interested in acting. So I’m kind of one of those people that would just—I like to do something that challenges me and I like to just keep trying to be as versatile as I can.

What’s your opinion of the show and why do you think we as the viewers should tune in?

Tyler Francavilla: I think Roommates is going to be a show that is going to appeal to a lot of people because it’s about this pivotal time in a young person’s life. You just graduated from college, you’re just out on your own officially for the first time and you’re trying to get your career in order, trying to decide maybe what that career might be. You’re trying to find love or have some sort of love life and some sort of social life at the same time. I think people younger than that age are going to watch it and look forward to that time in their life. I think people who are at that age are going to obviously identify with it going through it at the same time. People who are maybe a little bit older, I think will look back on that time in their life fondly and hopefully find some humor in what we’re doing as we experience it.

What’s a typical day of filming like?

Tyler Francavilla: Non-stop laughter, pretty much. Like I said, we’re such good friends that there’s so many days where I would say to myself, “I can’t believe that this is work. I can’t believe I’m going to work right now,” because it felt like I was going to hang out with my friends everyday. Obviously we did work, but as we rehearsed during the week, we’d get an episode and we’d rehearse it and we do a run-through for our producers and for our network and everything, but we had so much fun and we just were laughing constantly. We were really like, we’d have to stop talking after a while because we all had belly aches from laughing so hard. We all had like great abdominal muscles by the end because we’re just giggling constantly, seriously. So I look forward to getting this opportunity to work with all of them again and continue that fun.

What are your thoughts on the comparison to “Friends”?

Tyler Francavilla: I think that there are definitely some similarities, obviously, you have a bunch of young adults kind of living together. I guess the differences would be that we’re obviously younger than they were. Our characters are a lot different. We don’t have the same sort of characters that they had on their show. Our relationships are much different. That’s, I think, the thing that’s going to set it apart and the main difference is, when you start to get to know these characters you’ll see that they’re different individuals and there’s a different group dynamic, and I think the tone of the show is a little different. It’s definitely a fun, lighthearted, out to have a good time kind of show.

Will the bathroom schedule be a central theme in the show?

Tyler Francavilla: Well, it does come up a couple of times, you’ll see, because obviously we live in this—when you see the set, we live in what would be an absolutely beautiful apartment in Brooklyn and yet we only have one bathroom. And two women. And for four people, two women and one very vain man, which would be James, so that’s kind of a recipe for disaster. But it will definitely pop up, rear its ugly head a couple of times this season.

Have you ever considered directing or writing?

Tyler Francavilla: Yes, I’ve always wanted to do—I’ve never really considered directing, I have to say, not that I don’t—I think maybe it would be fun, but I also think it would probably be the most stressful experience of my life. The one job I would never want to do, though, is to be a first assistant director because I feel like that is maybe the hardest job there is on set because you basically have to appease every person and you have to be the bad guy for a lot of the crew, and you have to appease the director and all that. I just know that that is a very, very stressful position and one that I would not ever want to take on.
But I would like to write something sometime. My friends and I sometimes write little short films and go out and shoot them when we can, when we have some free time. And that’s definitely something I’d be interested in.

Do you ever get to offer any advice or anything when you’re filming, for your character?

Tyler Francavilla: Oh, yes, yes. The producers and the writers were very open to suggestions we had. They come and say, “Well, we might need a different joke here,” or not always. We had fantastic writers that were always coming up with great material. But occasionally they would say, “Do you think this something that your character would do?” And whether or not they take our input or our opinion, it’s definitely put out there for us to offer up. They’ve certainly let us throw in some lines where we say, “I thought that maybe this would be fun right here, a little add-on to this joke.” They’ve definitely been very receptive to that.

Do you have a favorite scene that you’ve filmed so far?

Tyler Francavilla: Well, there were a few. There’s one scene where Thom gets mistaken for somebody else and gets a whole lot of beer dumped on his head. That was one of the funniest moments we’ve ever had on set because it was sort of near the end of the day and we were scrambling to try and get it in there and he just got this huge pitcher of beer dumped all over him. And he was literally shaking it was so cold and he was drenched, his hair was like plastered to his head and his clothes were just soaked, and he had to sit there and deliver the same line a couple of times to make sure that they got it right. Poor David was just freezing cold, but we all did not stop laughing. I think we probably ruined takes because we were laughing so hard.
I also had a lot of fun with Tommy Dewey who plays James. He made it a habit to try to crack me up during the live show every week. I think he sort of found it like a fun little game just to find a moment during the night where he could basically break me on set and make me laugh. There were a few really, really trying experiences of not smiling or cracking. I will say that he probably won, if we were betting, I would owe him a lot of money basically.

Is it harder to do live television?

Tyler Francavilla: You know, I have always said I enjoy it so much because like I said, coming from doing theatre growing up, it’s kind of the perfect balance between television and theatre, where you’re filming a show but at the same time you have a little bit more freedom in your movement and the staging. But you also get that immediate response from the audience, which is so gratifying and it just really feels good as a performer to get that response and that feedback right away. It’s really encouraging and I have to say there’s nothing like it when you go out for the live show and you’ve been rehearsing all week, and it’s been fun and everything and it had a certain level of energy, but when there’s an audience there, it’s all of a sudden elevated to a whole new level and it’s just kind of, I love it. So officially as an actor, I think it’s fantastic and it’s so much fun.

What would be your ultimate dream role?

Tyler Francavilla: Wow, that’s tough. I don’t know. I guess I’ve always wanted to be portrayed as a like some sort of historic figure or do one of those kind of big movies, where you span a person’s life from young adult to the end of their life, something like that. I don’t necessarily have anyone specific in mind, but I’ve always loved those kinds of movies, things from like Walk the Line or like even like something like Frost/Nixon, where you’re this great character piece and something like that.

Have you yourself ever had any funny or bad roommate experiences?

Tyler Francavilla: Yes, I’ve several roommates in the past. We’ve usually typically gotten along pretty well. I have to say going back to sharing a bathroom, I’ve always found that to be the most difficult experience in having a roommate is having to share the bathroom. I don’t necessarily have anything specific in mind, but I’ve just had roommates that were not very clean, I’d say. Not that I’m the cleanest guy in the world, but I’m sort of a neat person and I like things a little bit organized and little tidy, so I live alone now and that’s pretty much the way I like it.

Do you have any other projects coming up or can you at least tell us about “The Two Bobs”?

Tyler Francavilla: Yes, I’m here in Austin right now for the South by Southwest Film Festival. This movie that I’m here for is called The Two Bobs. I play the role of Vertical Bob in the movie and we’re these world class game programmers. So we’re these high end guys who program video games and basically through the course of the movie, our game gets stolen and it’s this wacky, goofy adventure movie to get our game back and trying to find a life. It’s kind of losers in the beginning, so it’s a fun, wacky, wacky kind of movie.