‘Queer Eye’: Why Tan France Thought There Was ‘No Way He Could Ever Be Friends’ With Jonathan Van Ness When They Met

On Netflix’s reality show Queer Eye, Tan France takes the role of fashion guru, while Jonathan Van Ness serves as the hair and self-care expert. Like all the members of Queer Eye‘s Fab Five, Van Ness and France are now good friends. However, back when he initially met Van Ness, France said he couldn’t see them ever being close. France told Terry Gross on her NPR show Fresh Air what rubbed him the wrong way about his figure-skating, hair-styling co-star.

Tan France and Jonathan Van Ness
Tan France and Jonathan Van Ness | Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Netflix

France wrote about meeting Jonathan Van Ness during ‘Queer Eye’ casting in his book

In France’s new memoir, Naturally Tan, he described what it was like to meet his Queer Eye castmate Van Ness for the first time.

“He came up to me and started talking very loudly about his intimate life,” France wrote. “I was like, ‘There is no way I could ever work with this person, and there is no way I could ever be friends with him.’”

On her interview radio show Fresh Air, host Terry Gross followed up with France about this encounter.

Tan France
Tan France | Gabriel Olsen/FilmMagic

“I was quite prudish before meeting Jonathan,” France explained. The Netflix television star told Gross that he was raised in a fairly conservative Muslim community, what he called a “sheltered upbringing.”

France said he was “shocked” within minutes of meeting Van Ness, who was talking about his sex life right out of the gate.

“I can’t imagine ever speaking like this with anybody,” he remembered thinking. But France agreed emphatically when Gross asked if being on Queer Eye has changed his boundaries.

“Being around Jonathan Van Ness has changed my boundaries,” he said. But he’s grateful for the change.

The Fab Five changed Tan France for the better

“I’m the most boundaried person they know,” France said of his Queer Eye co-stars. “I set my intentions with people very quickly very early on.”

Queer Eye Fab Five
Antoni Porowski, Jonathan Van Ness, Tan France, Bobby Berk, and Karamo Brown | Amy Sussman/Getty Images

France, who was raised in England, said that many Americans find his bluntness rare because they are “quite passive-aggressive.” He explained: “in British culture, we’re a lot more open about what we will accept or not accept from our friends and family.”

However, he admits that his Netflix castmates have pushed his boundaries, and “the parts that have been pushed are or the better.”

“I love that side of me now,” France continued. He enjoys being “free to talk about things that people are really going through. I was quite guarded before.”

France takes every opportunity to gush about his fellow cast member JVN

France has totally changed his tune on Van Ness, and we have been lucky enough to witness their friendship blossom on multiple seasons of Queer Eye. But these two throw love at each other on just about every other corner of the internet.

In a YouTube video for Elle magazine, “Queer Eye’s Tan France Insta-Stalks The Fab Five,” France scrolled through all of his castmates’ Instagram feeds and made in-the-moment comments on their selfies, thirst traps, and so on.

While flipping through Van Ness’ pictures, France said to the camera that Van Ness requests the ultimate BFF move of France: approval before posting on Instagram.

“He will ask me to take his phone and choose my favorite ones,” France said in the video about Van Ness. “I think he’s obsessed with what I think of him, and he’s right to be.” However, France seems to have a fascination of his own with Van Ness. While France is of course, happily married, and not interested in anyone in the Queer Eye fam, he did admit: “if I were to go for any of them, Jonathan would be my guy.”

The reason, he explains, of course: “he’s very attractive … the most photogenic of all of us.” However, it’s more about Van Ness’s personality.

“He’s got a heart of gold,” France said. “He’s truly the nicest person I’ve ever met in my life.” Although the video’s gimmick was an easy way to throw shade at fellow cast members, France couldn’t look down on any of Van Ness’s bold fashion choices, which he shares nearly daily via fierce Insta-selfies.

“I can’t criticize,” Frace said. He explained that Van Ness has the confidence to wear and do things France doesn’t.

“Of all the people I’m most jealous of,” France said. “it’s Jonathan.”