‘Grand Hotel’s Shalim Ortiz: Mateo Is A ‘Mysterious Character’ — He’s ‘More Than Meets The Eye’

'Grand Hotel' is making its big debut on June 17. HL talked EXCLUSIVELY with star Shalim Ortiz, who plays Mateo, about what to expect from his 'delicious' character. Plus, he teases 'heavy secrets' within the hotel.

Shalim Ortiz
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Image Credit: Paige Kindlick

Grand Hotel is about to be your new favorite summer show. The drama series, premiering June 17 at 10 p.m. on ABC, is set at the last family-owned hotel in Miami Beach. Santiago Mendoza owns the hotel, while his second wife, Gigi, and their adult children enjoy the spoils of success. The hotel’s loyal staff round out a fresh take on the upstairs/downstairs story. Within the walls of the hotel, explosive secrets run rampant. Shalim Ortiz plays Mateo, the hotel manager. Shalim told HollywoodLife EXCLUSIVELY that Mateo is “a delicious character. He’s full of layers and mystery. You could say he’s a mysterious character. There’s obviously more than meets the eye, and you don’t get to see this guy’s full agenda and intentions from the get-go. It’s pretty evident that there’s going to be some tension between him and the owner of the hotel, Santiago. So I think that relationship plays a key role in the storyline and he’s definitely going to deal with some very heavy secrets that are happening at the hotel.”

He also noted that there’s “no in-your-face good guy bad guy in this show. Nobody is free from sin. Everybody has something they need to keep from somebody else.” The dynamic between Mateo and Santiago is a professional relationship but Shalim teased that “they know things about each other that could be compromising. So, there’s always going to be this question of who’s got the upper hand? I don’t want to say it’s a conflict of power, but their positions can be compromising in the relationship because one manages the hotel and knows pretty much all of the hotel’s secrets and the other one owns it. There is a history between them, that’s for sure, and that history of how they started working together is going to play a role in the story.”

Character backstories will be explored over the course of the season. “It plays out very nicely because the backstories kick in at a very key moment in each one of the conflicts,” Shalim continued. “So that’s where Eva Longoria’s character plays a role as well. She has a very important arc and her backstory is very key.” As for the possibility of romance for Mateo? “Well, in Mateo’s life, we’ll have to see,” Shalim said. “I think because there’s already so much sexiness, romance, and sensuality between Alicia and Danny. for example, that Mateo kind of brings in the not-so-fun part, the tense moments, but you never know.”

Brace yourselves now because there will be constant twists and turns along the way. However, there are lighter moments. Shalim added: “There’s always going to be some comic relief and some humor in it, which is great because, obviously, you’re talking about the writers from Ugly Betty, Devious Maids, and Jane the Virgin and all these amazing dramadies. But the drama is constant. I think people are going to identify or fall in love with one of the characters. It’s a big ensemble and there’s something for everybody.”

Shalim Ortiz
Shalim Ortiz stops by HollywoodLife’s NYC portrait studio. (Photographer: Paige Kindlick)

Since the show is about a hotel, after all, HollywoodLife asked Shalim which stars he’d like to see check-in for a guest appearance. “I think Gloria Estefan would be a great cameo,” Shalim said. “Gloria and Emilio [Estefan], Ricky Martin, Marc Anthony, or Jennifer Lopez as well.”

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