Demián Bichir couldn’t be more proud of his role on Grand Hotel.
The Mexican actor stars in ABC’s upcoming drama as Santiago Mendoza, the patriarch of a family who owns a hotel in Miami Beach. The series, adapted from the Spanish series Gran Hotel, puts a Hispanic family not only at the forefront but in a position of power, which Bichir notes offers a new layer to the immigrant journey usually portrayed on television.
“[I’ve played] characters with the same names and even the same lines,” he told reporters at ABC’s Television Critics Association press tour on Tuesday. “I have never played a character like [this].”
“This is my third time on American TV, and basically I respond the same thing… I’m looking for strong material, whether it’s in TV, film and theater,” Bichir explained, praising Grand Hotel‘s producers, including Eva Longoria, for telling the story “of success of an immigrant family coming to the U.S. and living a wonderful life.”
“I know many, many stories like [this family]… this is a tribute to them, and to everybody who is here to cross the border to make this country better,” he declared.
For Bichir, the team of people behind Grand Hotel was just important as the script.
“I love Eva. No one can say no to Eva. A powerful captain can lead a big ship into a happy port, and the beauty of that is they can gather the best artists, in every position. That, to me, is what I’m looking for as an artist,” he raved of the multi-hyphenate, who was sitting to his left.
“She’s opened up a new opportunity for many Latin American actors…. She could have chosen anything she wants,” he continued, explaining that her position with ABC could have allowed her to green light any project. “She’s superwoman. … she was juggling [motherhood and this show] at the same time. She is one of the [people] opening the opportunities to us.”
Longoria, who will also appear in front of the camera on Grand Hotel, took a moment to give a shout-out to Bichir for his contributions to Latinx representation on screen. Bichir — who was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar for his role in 2011’s A Better Life — starred alongside Longoria in 2016’s Lowriders, and directed her in Un Cuento de Circo & a Love Song the same year.
“When Brian [Tanen] adapted [Grand Hotel], we [changed the matriarch into] a patriarch,” she shared. “[I said], ‘Demián has to do this!'”
Grand Hotel premieres June 17 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.