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Heaven Can Wait : Soaps In Depth Magazine By Alison Sloane Gaylin - 6/2/98

Nick Kiriazis has beachcombers eager for Father Antonio to disrobe Oh, to be young, single, attractive and...celibate?
Ever since he first showed up in Sunset Beach, Father Antonio Torres has been leading himself into temptation. Whether he's hanging out a that den of iniquity known as Surf Central, catching waves sans collar (or much else), or giving Gabi a pair of broad shoulders to cry on, the pure-hearted padre always seems to be in the line of hellfire. What's up with that? "Father Antonio, being as young as he is, has to be experiencing a certain amount of frustration," says Nick Kiriazis, who has played the priest since February. "He's living with a bunch of other characters.

They can date. His brother, Ricardo, can go out and get women. But not him." How true. In a place where folks sin more often than they apply sunscreen, Father Antonio is, to say the least, unusual. "I think he feels a little out of place," Kiriazis suggests. Not that it bothers the actor. While many soap stars might balk at Antonio's limited storyline possibilities and pray for the character to fall from grace, Kiriazis says the he enjoys playing SUN's one true good guy.

"I really like to do the things that priests would do - weddings or confessions, making hospital visits," he admits. "I find it really rewarding. That's why I enjoy acting - you get to do things you wouldn't normally do." Divine Calling Though Kiriazis insists he is very different from Antonio, it's easy to see the similiarities: Both he and his character are down-to-earth and a bit on the shy side. Both are open to new experiences, too. Antonio left Mexico for Sunset, and Kiriazis gave up engineering for performing. The son of a nurse and a professor, Kiriazis never thought about acting when he was growing up on Long Island, NY. So, when he entered the State University Of New York Stonybrook, he quickly became immersed in technical classes. Then, when Kiriazis needed to choose an elective, a friend suggested that he enroll in acting class: "I was like, 'Hmmm. That would be interesting.'" And was it ever! "It was like nothing I'd ever experienced before," he relates. "It was freeing, like being a kid again."

Kiriazis took more and more acting classes, and before he knew it, he'd made a new career choice. After graduation, he moved to New York, waited tables, and tried to break into show business. Keeping the Faith Getting an acting job proved harder than Kiriazis anticipated, though. He was busy bussing and waiting tables for about a year before he got so much as a commercial. "It's a tough business," he acknowledges. "I mean, every step of the way, I've thought, "If I'd only known how hard it would be, I don't know that I would have had the courage to keep going.'" After traveling to LA three times for pilot season. Kiriazis moved to the West Coast permanently in October 1995. The following February, he snagged his first big gig: a five-episode stint on BEVERLY HILLS, 90210, as Clare's childhood friend, Prince Carl.

"I had come up with this whole upper-class character,"
he reveals, "and when I went to my first audition, I did an English accent. They were like, 'No, no!' They just wanted a regular guy." After Kiriazis nabbed the part, he was treated like anything but ordinary Joe. "One day, nobody recognizes you but your friends," he recalls with a laugh. "Then, the day after the first episode aired, I was shopping, and people were coming up to me saying 'You're they guy on 90210!' It was pretty funny." Man Of The Cloth Even though 90210 and SUN both are Aaron Spelling shows, Kiriazis' work on 90210 isn't what got him noticed by SUN. Rather, it was a screen test that he had done, months earlier, for ANOTHER WORLD: "They were having a hard time finding someone to play Antonio, so they started going through old tapes. I guess they found that tape, and went, Hmmm." Though SUN's taping schedule is even fast-paced than 90210's, Kiriazis isn't stressed out. "When your a priest," he says with a smile, "it gives you a certain clout. When I first came on, it eased some of the nervous tension." These days, Kiriazis is enjoying the "clout" that comes with playing Antonio. Though he isn't recognized as quickly as he was as Prince Carl, that may change soon. "I keep thinking," he admits, "maybe I should keep my collar on when I go out to lunch."