Daniel Franzese Teases Vern’s Backstory on ‘Recovery Road’ & His Real Life Love

Vern (Daniel Franzese) geeks out when he meets a celeb (guest Mischa Barton) in 'Recovery Road.' (Freeform)

t’s time to get to know Vern a little bit better.

As he tends to do in his projects, Daniel Franzese has been stealing scenes on Freeform’s new drama series, Recovery Road,” as Vern Testaverde, the long-standing resident of the rehab center where those having trouble with addiction go for help.

While the series could have a heavy dramatic hand, it’s surprisingly upbeat and not as dour as you might expect. Credit goes to a likable cast, including Franzese (who will be in the upcoming “Looking” finale movie and hosted the Valentine’s edition of Logo’s “Gay Skit Happens,” last week) who brings his own upbeat personality and natural charm to the role and, when the scripts call for it, he can bring the drama, too.

In tonight’s episode, “Parties Without Borders,” we get to see what it was like when Vern was first entering the house four years ago as well as get to meet Mischa Barton (“The O.C.”), who is guest starring.

I sat down with Franzese to talk about tonight’s episode, why Vern is still in the house when he seems pretty together and the actor’s own life, which includes his BF, Joseph Bradley Phillips. 

So in this week’s episode, we get to see Vern’s first time in the house!

Daniel Franzese: Yeah. Our show does a lot of flashbacks. I like to call it “Orange is the New Black” meets “The Facts of Life.” It’s a little bit of history of how far back Cynthia and Vern’s friendship goes as well as how I decided to get into the house, and the episode was directed by Joanna Kerns. Yes.

“Growing Pains” mom, Joanna Kerns, who I know is a big TV director now.

DF: Yes, I fell in love with her. This whole show has been serendipitous. I mean not just the fact that Karen and Bert are friends of mine for years but I met Joanna Kerns at an LGBT benefit in Santa Barbara that she was hosting. I was like ‘can I have a selfie with you?’ and a couple weeks later we’re working together.

Of course, Eddie (Franzese) and Agustin (Frankie J Alvarez) are a part of the "Looking" movie. (HBO)

Since Vern is not a huge part of the books, how much of that back story was helpful?

DF: I didn’t really read the book, which is odd for me but I was told not to because they wanted me to have a fresher perspective. Vern’s older in the books and they aged him down for me and wanted me to bring my own Vern to the table.

Vern has been in the house for awhile now (four years) so does that mean he still has a lot of work to do since he’s still there?

DF: I just think he’s one of those people that believe in the recovery system, almost to the point of a crutch. I think if anything in the future…this isn’t something we talked about but Vern is the type of person who might become a social worker himself for someone that helps others in a big way. He is sort of like the daddy bear of the house and then also knows that the program works for him.

Does Vern have a social life at all? Is he out there dating?

DF: I don’t know with all the different characters we’re exploring if we’re getting too far into each and every person’s life but Vern is the type of person who I think, more than anyone on the show, Vern is in everyone else’s life. He’s sort of a busy bee. Any time someone’s got a problem, he’s right there front and center, front row seat, with a notepad and a comment.

How much of that is like you?

DF: It’s not. I like to stay out of people’s business, personally. Even when I was younger I was more like that. He’s really in everyone’s business. Every time I would read a script and someone would have a problem, I’d be like ‘there’s Vern coming around the corner noticing.’ I’m definitely like up in everybody’s business on this show.

Here’s a preview of this week’s episode of “Recovery Road”:

[iframe http://www.youtube.com/embed/1_NFXC52ZTU 560 340]

Bringing in Eddie from “Looking,” would Vern and Eddie be friends?

DF: No. I feel like they’re both nice people, so maybe they would be friendly but I don’t know if they’re in the same social scene. I have to say no to that. They probably would be like ‘hey’ and then walk away from each other.

You and Joey are so adorable together. Is marriage on your mind at all at this point?

DF: It’s definitely a goal in the future. I just was gifted with a stroller from a gifting suite for my niece and Joey was like ‘why don’t you keep it?’ and I was like ‘for what?’ I was like ‘we’re not even married yet, relax!’ But I think both of us know that we’re on that path.

We wear promise rings but we definitely want in the future to get married. I just want to be a little more where I want to be in my career and a little more where I want to be as far as living situations. I'm still so nomadic. I live in a little apartment and I'm like always hardly there. I'd like to be a little somewhere more concrete so maybe with the success of this show, I'd have a little more footing in Los Angeles and be able to stay longer and be able to do what I need to do to be a good husband. I don't want to like marry someone and then leave town, and go work.

I feel being pulled by Broadway. I feel a pull here in Los Angeles and except for "Recovery Road" [but] most of the stuff I shoot is always on location somewhere and we haven't even experienced that as a couple yet. I mean, we've had a little bit of me going to San Francisco [for "Looking"] when he can get on that 45-minute plane ride but not necessarily the challenges of me going to New Orleans for two and a half months or Toronto like I have in the past and what that would do to us. I think we just need a little more time to feel all that out, but definitely, yeah, for sure.

I'm a one-guy kind of guy. I wasn't always that way but I made a change in my life before I met Joey that I was like that's the way I want to move forward in life and so I met a guy that I'm that way with and I'm enjoying life that way right now.

“Recovery Road” airs Mondays at 9pm on Freeform.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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