Cristián De La Fuente: Actor

updated 05/08/2000 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/08/2000 01:00AM

IN SANTIAGO, CHILE, WHERE CRISTIAN DE LA Fuente was born and raised, the mating ritual is ruled by the courtly ways of Old Spain, and a proper young woman never makes the first move. So, de la Fuente, 26, who plays Andrés Diaz, Dixie Carter's much younger paralegal paramour on CBS's Family Law, was quite unprepared for the ladies of L.A. "Last year was the first time a woman ever offered to buy me a drink," he says; And then there was the admirer in the restaurant. "She said, 'You are the most beautiful man I've ever seen," ' he recalls. "The closer you get, the better he looks," says Carter, 60, of her 6'2" costar. De la Fuente says that his fabulous features come from his father, Hugo, a chemist who died in 1996: "He was a very handsome man. One of the best compliments people can give me is that I look like him," By way of olfactory hommage, de la Fuente begins each day with a dab of Kouros by Yves Saint Laurent, his dad's cologne. The actor's leading-man moves began in kindergarten, when he got a girl to kiss him by pretending they were in a soap opera. "The teacher found us," he says, "and called my father, very worried." De la Fuente's acting career would have ended with his classroom clinch—he planned to become a civil engineer and is an officer in his country's air force reserve—if friends hadn't persuaded him to enter a TV talent contest in 1993. He won and became one of Chile's most popular TV stars. In 1998, de la Fuente went to Mexico to star in Reyes y Rey, a police series on the Spanish-language Telemundo network. Last year, he moved to an apartment in Beverly Hills, where his mother, Adriana, 56, recently visited her only child. "His physical beauty," she says, "has never mattered to me." That's the opinion of one woman—and, in L.A., it seems, of only one.

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