If you’re a millennial that was into treasure and scavenger hunts, then you most likely watched the iconic movie series, National Treasure. Years later, now it’s a show on Disney+. With guest appearances and Catherine Zeta-Jones playing the villain, the show is a great watch for avid lovers of mystery and adventure. Antonio Cipriano plays one of the main characters, Oren, who actually was the one who first got kidnapped from Catherine Zeta-Jones. We chatted with Cipriano about his acting career, and moving from Broadway to streaming.
You’re doing National Treasure, so I feel like you’re just doing cool projects back to back. How did you land the role on National Treasure?
It kind of came about a year and a half into Covid. I was kind of unemployed, just auditioning as much as I could. The audition came up and I instantly was like, you know what? This is, is what I want to book. This is something that I really feel fits right for me. So I sent an audition, had two callbacks, and then a chemistry read with with Zuri [Reed] who plays Tasha. And then I didn’t get it. For about a month I was out of the running for it. Then, out of nowhere, Mira [Nair], who is one of the executive producers and the director of the pilot episode, was like, do you guys remember Antonio? And they were like, oh, yeah…because there are just so many people that have to see these tapes and so many people that are auditioning that sometimes it can get lost. They were like, yeah, let’s screen test him. So they just used my callback tape, and a week later I booked it. It was crazy. The best Christmas gift ever.
Yeah, I would say. That’s amazing. Who else could you see playing in this show? Now I’m curious, I wonder who else would’ve been in your character spot?
Oren is a very kind of like a wide range, you know? It could really be anybody. I remember when they were pitching the show, they had to have kind of like a cast of people that are well-known and the kind of person they would like in the characters. And they mentioned the guy who plays Ned in Spider-Man, right? The best friend, right? So like very different types of people, but like both work in the role. It could have been anybody, which is fun and it’s fun to play with too.
How do you think your version of the character turned out? What do you think you brought to Oren versus what somebody else would bring?
What was so great is I did see a lot of myself in him. I think the reason I didn’t book it at first is that they didn’t really know what they wanted for Oren because they had this type of person before and now … there’s a wide range of people that could play this role. And they were just like, you know what? I think we found who Oren is. And I was like, great! That is the greatest honor ever that you guys feel that way. Oh my gosh. I feel super lucky to have landed it.
I have to ask, the whole cast seems great it has a great camaraderie around it. What was it like getting to work with your castmates and playing good guy against Catherine Zeta-Jones?
It was the best. We became best friends instantly. The second we all hopped on a Zoom call together for the first time meeting, it was like we had been friends forever. Then when we saw each other in Baton Rouge, it was no different. It was like we had lived our whole lives together as best friends. It was crazy. Then obviously Catherine is such a pleasure to work with and I learned so much from her – the way she carries herself on set, the way she brings so much to a scene. She comes in with an idea and then they play with it and they work together and make it what it is. She’s incredible, the way she works. Being kidnapped by her was an absolute honor. Honestly, I would do it again.
For sure. I mean if you’re gonna get kidnapped, you might as well have Catherine Zeta-Jones be the kidnapper.
I am curious since you are kind of from Broadway acting, what was it like coming from a big Broadway project to like a Disney scale project? What were the differences and similarities in acting?
Obviously, there’s a big difference between the live aspect of it for sure. I was a little nervous about going into TV and film, but I really do enjoy being on set. It’s a whole different atmosphere and a different vibe. It’s just a different opportunity to make friends and connections when you’re waiting to go onto the set for long days and stuff. Also, You know what is great about having a TV set is that we have 10 episodes of the story to work with. We have a lot more material that we can dig into with each character. You get two and a half hours of a show – you do a lot of that work behind the scenes. Like in Jagged Little Pill, I had a whole family that I talk about that you never really see. I was able to kind of create this life that Phoenix had outside of the show. You do the same for Oren, but you still have so much more to work with. It’s definitely a blessing to have that much time on tv.
I do watch the show. I love the mystery. I love the National Treasure films, obviously. I am curious, did you watch the movies?
Oh yeah, absolutely. They were a big part of life growing up. My dad was a big history guy. He loves the History Channel and stuff, and National Treasurer was like right in that lane. I hadn’t watched him like a bunch growing up. I watched them when I was younger and I loved them. Then watching them again when I was older, it’s like, oh my God, it still holds up. It’s so good. Now I just watch them all the time. I love them.
That must have been cool that you got to act with Justin Bartha who played Riley Poole.
Yes! That, that was cool. I hope they bring Nicholas Cage in maybe if there’s a second season.
Yeah, hopefully. I mean, we’d love to.
That’d be very, very iconic. Some fun questions to end it. This might be a broad question, what are some national treasures that you would wanna go find?
Damn. This is good. National Treasure is taking history and then expanding upon it, right? We don’t know if these treasures actually exist, right? These are bit fabricated. It’s interesting, you can really choose anything in history to go looking for it and to discover more about it. I’ve really been interested in The Bermuda Triangle or something like that. There’s something there that we can find. Or even in Italy, just like the cities that are 3000 years old, there’s just so much there that we can explore and I’m just hopeful that we get more opportunities to do it.
That’s why I love Europe. Oh my God. So historical. If you could go on a treasure hunt in real life to find whatever treasure, who would you want to pick to be on your team?
Ooh, I feel like Lisette would actually be really great at it. Honestly, everybody in the show…if we all turned into treasure hunters. I feel like you’d need the guys on Myth Busters, some guys who, who do that kind of stuff. Indiana Jones…
Oh yeah. You would win hands down with Indiana Jones.
I know it’s 2023, so obviously a generic question. Do you have any resolutions that you’re trying to like…do a bigger Broadway show? What are some New Year’s resolutions you’re working on?
In 2022, I didn’t do a lot of singing or doing concerts, or any kind of like shows where I would sing. That’s like a huge love of mine. It’s always been. I would love to in 2023 either do some concerts or even be in a show. Whatever comes my way, I just want to be happy doing it and hat’s a win for me.
You should try to do some music. I know you know Jake [Austin Walker] does music in the show.
We have this one last question. What is one quote that you’ve heard in life that you’d want to ECHO out to your fans?
Wow. One quote. There have been some good ones. Something that my friend actually told me that I’ve really tried to realize and bring into my own life, the idea of having the yin and yang, right? Like having the light and the dark in your life. You can’t appreciate the good if you do not know what the other side feels like. You can’t fully appreciate it. I think we all kind of went through a very large period of darkness, and that thought made me appreciate things a lot more. Even just the little things. It’s made 2022 one of the best years of my life for sure. Just appreciating everything, truly. Appreciating the people that you meet and forming great connections with other people – people that you work with, just random people on the street. Anyone can change your life at any moment, you know? If you just live in the moment, that’s all that matters. I’m trying my best to do that.
I love that. It sounds like a very New York answer.
Yeah, it is. I was living in LA for about 10 months during Covid. When I moved back, that’s kind of when I flipped the script and was like, you know what, I’m just going to enjoy life for what it is because it’s always gonna throw stuff at you and you just gotta take it, and be like, you know what, Thank you, let’s figure out how we can flip it around and turn it into something.
I love that. I love that positivity.