Lincoln Younes is relishing playing Danny Garibaldi, a charming waiter with a mysterious past, in the well-received new US drama series Grand Hotel.
A lead role in a major series is a big deal for any actor, but as the former Home And Away star reveals to TV WEEK, the part almost slipped through his fingers.
Lincoln flew into LA in 2018 – he's travelled back and forth to the US to audition for roles since exiting Home And Away in 2014 – knowing he had a big task ahead, yet trusting that his moment would eventually come. And it did.
"Auditions are always a process, a waiting game," the 27-year-old says from LA.
"You don't really know whether anything is going to come of it. You kind of just go in and hope for the best.
"On this particular day, I had done 10 auditions in three days, so I was fairly exhausted. Grand Hotel came up at the last minute and I was afraid I wouldn't have enough time to prepare for the audition, so I considered cancelling it."
With phone in hand, Lincoln was ready to call it a day. Perhaps it was divine intervention, or sheer coincidence, but something held him back.
"Luckily, I didn't [call], because I got the job two days later," he says with a laugh. "But it's such an unpredictable industry. I have a lot of extremely talented friends who deserve the opportunity just as much, but haven't been given the chance yet, so I'm thankful for this moment."
One of his friends includes fellow actor Stephen Peacocke. He and Lincoln played brothers – and River Boys gang members – Brax and Casey in Home And Away for several seasons. (No fan will forget Casey dying in his big brother's arms after being shot by bad-guy Jake Pirovic, played by Fletcher Humphrys, in 2014.)
Steve recently gave Lincoln a friendly serve when he came across a poster of him promoting Grand Hotel.
"I caught up with him a few weeks ago, and he was like, 'Stop stalking me – you're everywhere!'" Lincoln says with a laugh. "He's great – we support each other."
Set in sun-soaked Miami, Grand Hotel – based on a Spanish telenovela – brings plenty of drama and sex appeal to its audience. It didn't take long for Lincoln to discover this when he arrived on set.
"I flew across from Australia, which ended up being a 30-hour transit. And when I arrived, I stepped into the middle of Spring Break," he says with a laugh. "But the backdrop of Miami adds an incredible energy to the show."
As for his character, who's often found poolside, Lincoln says he "avoided the craft services table" and hit the gym.
"For a show like this, which can be a bit raunchy, you do prepare," he says. "My character is physically capable in the show, so I tried to reflect that. But those steamy scenes are done with such consideration, so it's not too uncomfortable."
As Lincoln talks about his days on set – "there's such a diverse mix of people from all walks of life" he enthuses – the synergy between the cast is clear.
One powerful person in particular, Desperate Housewives actress and series executive producer Eva Longoria, has been a huge influence on Lincoln since they met.
"She started as my boss, then became a mentor and is now a good friend," he says. "Actually, I'll tell you a little story that sums up who Eva is...
"I was doing a campaign with Nike about 12 months ago, which involved a 10km run. In preparation, I was running along the streets of LA.
"One day, she said to me, 'Why are you running along the streets? I'm picking you up tomorrow at 10am.' The next day, she took me to her favourite trail and we walked it together. Keep in mind, she was heavily pregnant at the time!
"Afterwards, I asked what she was up to for the rest of the day. She said she was supposed to be prepping to do the late-night TV circuit and get her star on the [Hollywood] Walk Of Fame. I was stunned: she had so much going on, yet found time to maintain the same kindness and positivity she exudes every day."
With a pause, Lincoln goes on to sum up his story with how it all started.
"As I said, I'm incredibly thankful. I actually can't quite believe it."
Grand Hotel premieres Wednesday 28th August, 8.40pm, Nine Network.