Tan France on his new show and what the Fab Five text about
It’s hard to believe that the revival of Queer Eye premiered on Netflix just two years ago, introducing us to one of our current fave celebs, Tan France. Queer Eye’s fashion expert “came out of freaking nowhere” (as he recalls his rise to stardom) and stole our hearts from the moment we saw him execute his first onscreen French tuck. Since then, we’ve been watching France thrive on various reality shows, on paper in his first book, and on Instagram, where he makes us jealous of his perfectly styled hair and endless supply of shoes.
The moment Queer Eye premiered, life took a rapid turn for France. The drastic lifestyle change can best be summed up by his transition from indulging in “lovely, luxurious 15-minute showers,” to being lucky if he has time for a three-minute rinse nowadays. But despite his busy schedule, when we chatted with France, he seemed at ease and completely present in the current conversation. Tan speaks to you with the warmth of an old friend, the wit of your sharpest acquaintance, and the potty mouth of a sailor, all in that delightful British accent of his. You can’t help but smile when you hear Tan’s voice (we’d listen to him all day, tbh), but we couldn’t help but wonder, is he always so perky?
Although he sarcastically calls himself “a vile bitch” multiple times throughout our conversation, France seems to be the total opposite of this, both on- and off-screen.
"Antoni regularly says that it’s very weird how peppy and positive I am, even at 6 a.m.," France told HelloGiggles. "It’s very rare to find me in a bad mood. But that doesn’t mean I’m smiling as big as the Joker every day."
France says he sometimes feels pressured to exude the positivity we all love about his onscreen energy in everyday life, which can be a challenge—particularly when hardcore Tan France fans have the habit of literally picking him up.
"Because I’m smaller than my castmates, people think they can put me in their pocket, so they lift me up and jump a lot," France said. "They get really excited, and I don’t think they realize that I’m in my late thirties and if you bounce me around, my neck is going to kink out. So, I've started saying, 'Hi! Don't pick me up please' and then we have a conversation."
We get it: Tan is adorable, but keep his leather booties on the ground, please. This immediate intimacy shows how connected fans feel to France after just two years of him being in the spotlight. He says that although his authenticity turned out to be his greatest strength, it was initially what he thought would get him fired from Queer Eye.
“During the first and second seasons, I honestly thought I was going to get fired at every turn,” he said. “I thought I probably wouldn’t have a job after Season 1 aired. I thought I wasn’t as capable as the other boys because I didn’t have the experience [in the entertainment industry] that they had. Little did I know, that was my greatest strength—I wasn’t rehearsed in any way.
“All I knew how to be was myself, and that’s what Netflix needed from me—just to be as authentic as possible.”
France’s genuine spirit has landed him two other Netflix shows in the past year: web series Dressing Funny and the upcoming fashion competition show Next in Fashion, which he’ll co-host with designer Alexa Chung (with whom he says he became “stalker-ish and obsessed”).
"I’m really lucky that the people I'm on shows with have become some of my favorite people on the planet, and I pray that continues on," France said.
Although we’ve yet to see France and Chung’s on-screen chemistry, the strong bond among the Queer Eye cast is obvious. When asked to reveal fashion faux-pas that the Fab Five members have committed, France laughed and refused to bad-mouth his friends (although he has no problem calling them out on their outfit choices in private).
"We have a wonderful bro code between us boys," he said. "We never speak ill of any of us. Whenever we’ve got something to say, we say it to each other, which is why I think our relationship is so strong and healthy. We’re like 'Hey, bitch, what are you doing? Don’t wear that.' And then we change clothes and move on."
The Fab Five have no filter with each other, to the point where Tan says their group text messages are far too vulgar to mention. “The texts between us five are disgusting,”he said. “Our last one was about somebody we thought was really cute, and it’s not PG at all. That’s all I’m going to say.”
During the past two years, the Fab Five have made appearances everywhere from red carpets to game shows. Most recently, the crew appeared in Taylor Swift’s music video for “You Need To Calm Down.” During the actual music video shoot, Tan was busy filming the finale of Next in Fashion. Although he couldn’t be at the actual shoot, in typical France fashion, he made his mark on the video with his own personal shoot.
"Mine was filmed on a green screen. I did a couple takes that the director wanted me to do, and then I said, 'Do you mind if I just fuck around?' and he was like 'Do whatever you want for these three takes.' There were a bunch of props, and I saw the teapot and thought, 'Well, I’m the English one, so I want to do something with tea.' And that was the one we used—where I pretended to pour tea in my mouth, and I gave a little bitchy wink."
"The other ones were kind of just me walking and smiling at the camera. It was cute, but it wasn’t as me. I like to play."
As if starring in three Netflix shows and making cameos in music videos weren’t enough, France just designed his own eyewear collection, too. He collaborated with Eye Buy Direct to create a line for men and women, keeping all skin tones, face shapes, and styles in mind.
"I wore a lot of eyewear on a few seasons of Queer Eye, and every time I’d post about it on my Instagram, people would ask if I thought that shape or color would work for them," France said. "I can’t get back to everybody, so when I was working with Eye Buy Direct, I told them the issues that people seem to be having and that really dictated what we did with the collection. We tried to incorporate as many people as possible and solve as many of those problems as possible."
This innate inclusiveness is what makes so many people feel connected to Tan France. If this is what he’s accomplished in just two years in the public eye, we have a feeling that France has a lot more in store for us.