Lincoln Younes as Danny in the American TV series Grand Hotel.
Lincoln Younes as Danny in the American TV series Grand Hotel. Ed Herrera

Aussie actor lands role in sexy new Latin drama

WORKING in the hustle and bustle of Miami Beach has been a cultural experience for Lincoln Younes.

The Canberra-born actor, who got his big break as one of the River Boys on Home and Away, has landed his first major US TV role in the sexy drama Grand Hotel. Starring opposite a largely Latin American cast, Younes immersed himself in Miami's Cuban culture.

"The Latin community is wonderful," he says.

"I'm half Lebanese and I think the Lebanese culture is quite akin to the Latin culture. There's this excitement and celebration around food and hospitality and socialising, which I love, and time is an irrelevant device sometimes.

"Cuban coffee will keep you up for a week - I learned that the hard way."

Executive producer and Desperate Housewives star Eva Longoria helms the new series, an American remake of the popular Spanish drama Gran Hotel.

"What Eva and the creators have done intelligently is they've made it contemporary," Younes says.

"It's not a period piece anymore. It's set it in Miami and they've added and changed a few of the characters but kept the best parts of the original. There's stuff in there for fans of the original."

Set at the Riviera Grand Hotel, the last family-owned hotel in Miami Beach, Grand Hotel follows owner Santiago Mendoza (Demian Bichir), his glamorous second wife Gigi (Roselyn Sanchez) and their adult children, as well as the Riviera's staff.

Feliz Ramirez, Ken Kirby, Justina Adorno and Denyse Tontz in a scene from Grand Hotel.
Feliz Ramirez, Ken Kirby, Justina Adorno and Denyse Tontz in a scene from Grand Hotel. Eric McCandless

The famous Fontainebleau Hotel, which has featured in more than a dozen films including Goldfinger and The Bodyguard, stands in for the Riviera Grand.

"We were there during spring break and Ultra Music Festival - suffice to say there was a lot going on while we were trying to film, but it added to the exciting energy of the show," he says.

"To have Miami as our backdrop, it becomes its own character. It's a dynamic you wouldn't see anywhere else. Culturally, it's such an exciting place with so much diversity and so much light and fun. It's a wonderful antidote for a lot of the stuff going on at the moment in the world. There's this fun flair to the series, and I think we all need a bit of that."

Younes stars as Danny, a recently hired waiter who is investigating the disappearance of his sister Sky.

Lincoln Younes as Danny in a scene from Grand Hotel.
Lincoln Younes as Danny in a scene from Grand Hotel. Eric McCandless

"Danny's from all round the country, but Illinois is where his family is. There's a lot of mystery around his back story and reasons for being at the hotel," he says.

"What's interesting to watch and figure out is when Danny's being sincere and when he's playing everyone. That duality becomes a theme in the show. It gets him unstuck but it also helps him get to the bottom of what he's searching for. Interwoven with that is the attraction with Alicia, the hotel owner's daughter, which complicates everything."

Since moving to Los Angeles 18 months ago, the 27-year-old is happy to have some traction in such a competitive industry.

"Creatively, I feel like it's the hub of the industry," he says.

"Everywhere you go there's someone linked to he industry in some capacity. It can be quite a difficult town - there are a lot of big energies here - but for me just being in a city that condones collaboration and celebrates art and creativity is really exciting."

He says his time in Summer Bay helped to prepare him for the fast pace of American TV.

"On Home and Away you're working so intensely every day for three years that the technical elements become innate," he says. "It sets you up well when you get over here for a show that requires a performance very quickly under intense conditions."

Grand Hotel premieres on Wednesday, August 28 at 8.40pm on Nine.



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