Antonio Cipriano Is Solving His Own Mysteries
“I love the movies, honestly. They’re some of my favorite movies...they held up well,” laughs Antonio Cipriano.
On a Zoom call in January, Cipriano and I are discussing National Treasure, the 2004 classic, complete with action, adventure…and Nicolas Cage. A mainstay in early-2000’s family movie nights, Cipriano and I both have fond memories of watching the film.
“You know when you watch a movie, and when you were a kid and you loved it, and then you watch it again, and you’re like, ‘Whoa?’”
“Of course I do.” I know exactly what he’s talking about. Some things don’t age that well, or, in other cases, we grow out of them. A series you once loved can seem tired when you revisit, less thrilling than before. National Treasure is not one of them. And neither is National Treasure: Edge of History, Cipriano’s latest project on Disney+.
Now in its first season, Edge of History is a streaming series intertwined with the tales of the earlier franchise installments. The hijinks differ slightly, but the adventure remains the same. Even Harvey Keitel and Justin Bartha make appearances, reprising their characters and centering the audience back into the world of treasure hunting. Season 1 of the series is currently available to stream on Disney+, with a penultimate episode dropping February 1 and a finale arriving on February 8. Details on a second season have yet to be released.
Cipriano plays Oren, a happy-go-lucky friend and sneaker aficionado wrapped into the escapades of his friends Jess (Lisette Olivera), Tasha (Zuri Reed), and Ethan (Jordan Rodrigues). It all begins when Jess embarks on a mission to connect the missing pieces of her family’s past, bringing along her friends and the high emotions that come with treasure hunting and relationships. For Cipriano, the role of Oren was a kismet opportunity.
“Literally the second I read the sides for my audition I was like, ‘Yeah, this is exactly the kind of character that I want to play,’” said Cipriano. “When you see a lot of yourself in a character, it’s easier to just kind of go right into it. It fits like a glove.”
And with a completely new project, Cipriano found himself encouraged to bring some of his own style to the role.
“When I finally booked it, [I started] working with the Wibberleys, [just] being super collaborative.” The Wibberleys, husband and wife duo Cormac and Marianne, created the series, penning episodes and also the movie from which the show takes its name.
“They let me add a lot of things that I felt [Oren] would do. It just felt so good doing it. It was a great fit. Oren’s a good guy. He’s really fun to play. And I do hope I get to hang out with him a little bit more,” adds Cipriano.
While he’s now made his way into living rooms across America, I’ve been familiar with Cipriano for years, having seen him in Jagged Little Pill, the musical he made his Broadway debut with. He started working with the jukebox musical, shaped by the songs of Alanis Morisette, in 2018. Cipriano played Phoenix from the American Repertory Theater run through its Broadway opening in 2019, leaving the production during the Broadway shutdown in 2021. Cipriano and I dove into Jagged Little Pill, the show that for many, put his name on the map.
“With Jagged, it was so interesting because it was my first time doing something like that,” said the actor, who was 18 during Jagged’s out-of-town process. “Having Diane Paulus and Diablo Cody listen to me and be like, "Yeah, we want to hear you out. How do you feel about this moment?” The same thing happened with Oren in National Treasure.”
The experience of creating and shaping these characters may be similar, but surely there are differences in the two mediums. One, musical theatre, is a real-time marathon, performed eight times a week. Television has room for retakes and second chances, but the process is more consuming, staying on set for days at a time. After having done both, Cipriano sees plenty of positives.
“I always was nervous about losing that live performance aspect [of theatre] in TV and film. And you do lose some of it, for sure, but it’s also about doing it over and over again. That’s also fun because you get to mess around and really figure it out,” he adds. “I love being on set.” Cipriano goes on to reminisce about time spent on set, specifically when a basketball rim was brought, encouraging some friendly matches between the stars. “We were just having a blast out there.”
It sounds like the set of Edge of History was a great place to be, but I had to ask: is Cipriano considering sticking with TV forever? “Feeding off of that energy is unlike anything else,” said Cipriano, thinking back to the packed audiences of Jagged Little Pill and the Broadway fanbase he got to know. “I definitely would love to continue that as well.”
Jagged was a big milestone for Cipriano, but so was Edge of History. As the actor started working in the film and TV side, he landed guest star appearances in episodes of God Friended Me, City on a Hill, and The Sex Lives of College Girls, but Edge of History is his first series regular title.
“I had always wanted something like that. Doing a guest spot on a show, you see how the series regulars interact with each other...they get to really build this family together throughout the entire season,” said Cipriano, who has now experienced that family dynamic first hand. “You do create this bond with these people that you’re working with every day. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience, a better cast, a better crew, better creatives. It was a perfect storm of wonderful people.”
I asked Cipriano about spending time in Louisiana, where the show was filmed. I’ve never been there myself, but posts from Cipriano make it seem like the perfect destination for a handful of twenty-somethings on a day off.
“Because we were all from out of town and we all had to stay in this one area in downtown Baton Rouge, [we got] closer than ever. Because you’re almost forced to hang with each other. And then you’re like, wait, ‘I want to hang out with you guys every day,’” said Cipriano. And he’s not just talking about lunch breaks and after-work nights. The cast of Edge of History was together even in their time off. “New Orleans is like an hour and a half away, so most weekends we’d just go down there. And every weekend in New Orleans, you have something to celebrate,” he laughs.
Speaking with the actor, it’s clear that he’s made strong connections with costars. Just like Oren, he’s a people person, after all. The first season of National Treasure has almost all been released, the first big mystery finally solved. As one season comes to an end—and a new year begins—I ask Cipriano what 2023 has in store for him. What are his goals and dreams for the year?
“2022 was an incredible year filled with just amazing people. I’ve met so many amazing people and I’ve worked with so many amazing people. And if I can do that again in 2023…if I can continue to enjoy what I’m doing, that’s all that really matters to me anymore. I want to continue to work and continue to make awesome memories with the people that I’m working with. And that’s about it. That will be a great 2023. I’ll be happy. I’ll be really freaking happy.”
Sounds like a plan.
National Treasure: Edge of History is now streaming on Disney+.
(Lead image grooming and styling by Morgan Mabry and Greg Dassonville.)