A quits Santa Barbara for L.A. Law

 By Vesna, TV Soap, 1992

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Hot actor A Martinez, Santa Barbara's biggest star, has quit his role as hot-shot detective Cruz Castillo to join the award-winning legal drama L.A. Law. In an exclusive Australian interview with Vesna, he revealed his heartbreak at leaving Santa Barbara. TV Soap was the first overseas magazine he wanted to talk to about his decision.

In the eve of his departure from Santa Barbara (he tapes his last scenes this month) A Martinez said he was living the saddest days of his life. "Santa Barbara ranks as one of my greatest experiences," he said. "I love the show more than I can measure. It helped me develop into the person I am today. I can't begin to tell you how heartbroken I am to be saying goodbye to what has been my home for the past eight years," he said. "The show is doing so well now. It would have been easier to have quit when it wasn't doing so well."

He thanks his wife, Leslie, for helping him to make what he says was the hardest decision of his career. "She had to sleep on it for a few nights to know if I would be doing the right thing," he said. "But Leslie has a good sense about these things. She knows what's best for me."

While America, Santa Barbara fan have only another month to watch the escapades of Cruz, Australian viewers will continue to be entertained by the swarthy actor for three more years as we are that far behind US episodes. Good news for all fans of the show is that the passionate character will not meet an untimely demise. No, Cruz will not be killed off, Martinez assures us. "I love him too dearly to let the writers kill him," he said. "Just like Eden (Marcy Walker), he will leave town - this way he can always come back."

Like Marcy, his friend and former co-star, Martinez has no plans to return to Santa Barbara. And although his decision to leave the show has disappointed his fans worldwide, it wasn't unexpected. "A lot of people thought I would leave when Marcy did, nearly two years ago," he said. "And, I'll admit, it was hard on me when she went. We were so close."

In fact, his best memories on the show are of Marcy. "She helped me open up to a level I hadn't imagined possible," he said. "With her I was genuinely moved to tears. I could laugh in front of the camera without pretending. I never dreamed acting could be like that."

One of the hardest things about his relationship with the blonde actress, he recalls was making the transition from being lovers on screen to being the best of friends away from the cameras. "We got into a situation for a while where we started to build up an emotional wall between us," he said. "Just so we could keep the distance. "One weekend we had to do a promotion out of town so we spent two whole days together," he said. "We talked to each other honestly and carefully to assess how we really felt. We had to step back from work and be with each other as friends," he said. "It's hard to develop that kind of rapport with anyone else," he said. "Only now I'm becoming more comfortable with the people of the show".

Looking back at the years he's been with the show, he cites as his favorite times the episodes dealing with Eden's rape and pregnancy - which have just gone to air in Australia. "Marcy was wonderful in that storyline. She kicked butt !" he said. "She won her daytime Emmy for that."

In the eight years he's been with Santa Barbara he was one of the originals. He has seen a lot of changes and many faces come and go. "Santa Barbara is no longer the new kid on the black," he said. "I think the fact that we've had a lot of turmoil, you know, changes in producer and head writers, has made us a stronger show. Sometimes it has been a struggle for the actors to have a sense of consistent direction," he said. "But now there is a tremendous surge of morale among the cast and the show is better than ever."

And as for the rumors that Santa Barbara is be-ing axed, he said : "The show has been dogged with that through most of his history. The way it's looking at the moment if would be hard for the network (NBC) to pull the trigger." Whether or not those rumors prove to be true will not have much effect on Martinez, who begins work on LA Law this month. For a few weeks he won't have much spare time as he will be working on Santa Barbara and L.A. Law at the same time.

L.A. Law fans will recall this is not his first appearance on the show. He once played a convicted killer facing death in the gas chamber - so he won't be resurrecting the role. He's looking forward to joining the cast of the legal drama and producers are hoping his legion of Daytime fans will follows him to L.A. Law.

Australian fans will have to wait until next year for the new season of L.A. Law to see him in action in the courtroom.