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New York Daily News

Franky G Has Role Of His Life


September 14, 2004
Copyright © 2004 Bell & Howell Information and Learning Company. All rights reserved.

Franky G feels at home playing Jonny Calvo, the caring ex-con at the center of Fox's new action-drama "Jonny Zero."

"I have friends that are like Jonny Calvo," the Brooklyn-born, Queens-bred Franky G told the Daily News during a break at Silvercup Studios in Queens last week.

But when it comes to talking in detail about any of those people, well, said the actor, "I won't say."

Franky G, whose full surname is Gonzalez and who is best known for his role in "The Italian Job," said he understands his new role, a character with a Michael Corleone kind of problem. Namely: Just when Jonny Calvo thought he was out, they pull him back in.

"I know somebody who went [through something] similar to that situation," said Gonzalez. "He has a wife and he has a kid and we worked together and he did prison time - and what he did, he wasn't proud of."

The show, from producer John Wells ("ER" and "The West Wing"), also stars GQ (whose real name is Gregory Qaiyum) as Jonny's hip- hop sidekick and Brennan Hesser as an ex-stripper now in Jonny's care.

The show is being shot now for airing at midseason.

"Jonny Zero" makes the most of Gonzalez's formidable physique and eclectic real-life rsum. A former semi-professional running back for the Long Island Tomahawks who also studied criminal law in college, Gonzalez has also worked as a bouncer and security guard in some of New York's roughest neighborhoods. For example, the show spends a lot of time in and around the New York club scene.

In fact, much of the thrust of "Jonny Zero" isn't too far afield from the life the late thirtysomething Gonzalez's early life -- much of which was spent just trying to stay out of trouble.

"You had your bad times and your good times, you know," said Gonzalez.

"My parents were from Puerto Rico. They moved to Williamsburg. And, you know, to me, they raised us up well," he said. "They put us on the straight and narrow. I've been around areas that it wasn't pleasant to be in when I was growing up, in the sense of living in Williamsburg and the gangs."

Then the family moved to Queens. But he never got into serious trouble.

"My brothers did that," said Gonzalez.

"I tried to avoid a lot of that," he said, adding, "But if someone is going to step on my shoe, I'm not going to back down."

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