With credits in major films like Carlito’s Way, Amistad, American Gangster, and Silver Linings Playbook, and the small screen in Medium, The Handmaid’s Tale, Mayans M.C., why has it taken so long for Hollywood to recognize his bankability as a leading star?
Ortiz stars as the Sandoval family patriarch Joe Sandoval, a vintner married to Lettie (Cecilia Suarez) and with who he shares a blended family of their respective children from prior relationships and a son who is biologically their own. It also explores immigration, with creator Matt Lopez opting to focus on the human experience instead of politicizing it.
“The human component is something that speaks to me, given the structure, the extremes, and the stakes,” he said of the importance of having shows like Promise Land that don’t lean on tropes and stereotypes. “When [Latinos] are depicted or when [the community is] explored, it just kind of becomes about the issues and you forget about the people. You forget about the things that move us, and the things we want to see when we [see ourselves] portrayed on screen or in life.”
Ortiz continued, “I’ve been lucky enough to be [a working actor] for 30 years. But this is the first leading role I’ve ever been offered [in that time]. And I don’t understand the core correlation as to why that’s the case. I always knew it wasn’t about my talent. I say that because I understand how special it is and the responsibility [that comes with that]. I’m just over the moon with excitement and I’m giddy and I love this show. I love this story. I love these people. And I show up to work even when I’m not called to be at work.”
Lopez—a self-proclaimed fan of dishy dramas like Dallas—revealed there are juicy storylines ahead as the layers of this complicated onion are peeled back and secrets are revealed. At the center is a love triangle consisting of Joe, Lettie, and his former wife and mother to three to his children, Margaret Honeycroft (Bellamy Young).
“At the risk of spoiling too much, I’ll say this: It’s not a straight line,” Lopez shared. “And we are very much leaning into this love triangle that spans the test of time. There are things that Lettie represents to Joe…we call them our ride or die couple. The experiences that they have gone through together can’t be surpassed in some ways. Whereas Margaret represents to Joe the promise of a new country and a new horizon.”
Costars also include Augusto Aguilera, Christina Ochoa, Mariel Molino, Tonatiuh,, Yul Vazquez, Julio Macias, and Miguel Angel Garcia.
Watch the first trailer for Promised Land below.