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First-time dad Wilmer Valderrama says he’s more Fez than Nick Torres

Wilmer Valderrama

Wilmer Valderrama —PHOTOS BY SONJA FLEMMING

Wilmer Valderrama is called a lot for portraying the function of Fez within the sitcom “That ‘70s Show” as he’s for his tabloid-fodder romances with a bevy of Hollywood beauties that features Lindsay Lohan, Demi Lovato, Mandy Moore and Ashlee Simpson.

The 41-year-old hunk could have lastly mentioned farewell to his “footloose and fancy-free” days as an eligible bachelor when he introduced his engagement to girlfriend Amanda Pacheco final December, however the Venezuelan-Colombian-American actor stays as charming and gracious as ever—as our latest chat with the resident heartthrob of “NCIS,” the United States’ No. 1 TV sequence, demonstrated.

Yes, it was a pleasure to hearken to Wilmer speaking as if we have been simply taking pictures the breeze. Moreover, the actor usually gave three or more subjects’ value of solutions per query. A Latino charmer, certainly!

Now a daddy

Despite the restrictions led to by the pandemic, there’s little question the actor-singer-host has loads to smile about nowadays, professionally and personally. Not solely does Wilmer have a brand new film out (Esteban Arango’s “Blast Beat”), he additionally simply grew to become a first-time dad final month: His daughter Nakano Oceana was born on Feb. 15.

On its 18th season, “NCIS,” the place Wilmer has been enjoying agent Nick Torres for the reason that “Rogue” episode in Season 14, additionally marked a big milestone with the latest airing of “Everything Starts Somewhere”—the crime procedural’s four-hundredth episode!

While we could have been heartbroken by Maria Bello’s departure within the Afghanistan-set “True Believer” episode the opposite week, we have been nonetheless tickled pink to see sparks starting to fly between Nick and colleague Eleanor Bishop (Emily Wickersham), particularly when the latter’s life was put in danger throughout a latest hostage disaster.

Real-life drama

But there was even more real-life drama on and off the “NCIS” set, no because of the COVID-related shutdown early final 12 months that was solely lifted in September, once they resumed filming episodes for Season 18.

“It was really important for us to go back to work because, for people stuck at home, films and TV shows like ours make quarantine more bearable,” Wilmer informed us. “They present viewers a semblance of normalcy in these tough occasions. And simply the truth that we have been discovering a roadmap to return to work was uplifting and empowering.


“It was a beautiful scenario the first day we went back to work because we hadn’t seen each other for so many months. We were wearing masks and face shields and standing 6 to 10 feet away from one another. It was very emotional for all of us, knowing that we were able to create protocols that made us feel safe to come back to work.”

Wilmer is marking his fifth 12 months with “NCIS,” however he mentioned that doing the present continues to supply pleasure for him as an actor.

“When I joined the team on that first year, I was a little too confident,” he admitted, laughing. “I rolled in swinging arduous. I used to be a ball of fireplace! I used to be excited simply to be there, as a result of I made it some extent to create a personality I like. If I used to be going to hang around with anyone for 12 hours a day, for twenty-four episodes a 12 months—that’s about 9 and a half months with a personality!

“I wanted to like that character—and Nick Torres has been enjoyable and easy for me to create: I imply, he’s grumpy, he’s a smartass, he’s quirky and unfastened, and he’s humorous. More than that, I get to do all of the issues that I’m fairly good at, like blended martial arts. Plus, I get to seize unhealthy guys!

“Time has passed by very quick. I’m getting near doing my one centesimal episode with the sequence, and I nonetheless really feel like I’m the brand new man.

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Maria Bello (left, with Mark Harmon) bids ‘NCIS’ viewers goodbye this season.

“Mark Harmon is a great partner to me. We’ve had quite a bromance going on for about four years now, and it’s going strong, ladies and gentlemen (laughs). I don’t know how much longer I’ll be with the show, but for the moment, I’m happy to be here. The fact that the fans love the character has been such a gift.”

BlessedAsked to speak about his legacy to this point, Wilmer mentioned, “I’m very pleased with many issues. For so lengthy, I’ve been in a position to present for my household, handle my mom, father and sisters, put a roof over my head—I do know I’m blessed!


“But with that comes loads of arduous work and powerful work ethic. I’m relentless. I’ll work out at 4:30 within the morning, I’ll be on set at 6:30 a.m., and shoot for 12 hours. Then, I’ll work out once more within the gymnasium. Then, I fall asleep.

“Despite that, I still find time to be a son, a fiancé, a brother, a tio, etc. I’m a hard worker and, like my dad, I think that’s what I have in common with the Latino community. I asked my dad to retire many years ago, but he got so bored that he now gets up at 5:30 in the morning—to drive an Uber! He simply doesn’t want his time off (laughs).”

Our Q&A with Wilmer:

How essential is it so that you can symbolize the Latino tradition, given the political and social context that we’re dwelling in the present day?

When I first acted at age 17 or 18, I used to be simply comfortable to have a job—I didn’t perceive the magnitude of what that meant or what my character represented to many individuals. In the start of “That ‘70s Show,” I simply confirmed as much as work and did one of the best I may to be humorous.

Then, once I bought to the one centesimal episode, I started to know how particular Fez was and the possession that the viewers had over my creation of this one little character.

I didn’t perceive the significance of it as a result of, whereas I used to be the one Latino on the Fox community for a very long time, I didn’t actually see it that manner. For me, I used to be simply one other actor in a community stuffed with actors, so I by no means noticed myself as a minority.

Later, the belief that there was a scarcity of illustration for minorities grew to become a really sobering second for me as a result of, for years, I used to be auditioning for Caucasian roles on a regular basis. But I noticed more and more that I had a significant duty to say no to characters that didn’t symbolize me or my tradition effectively, and say sure to roles that my mother, dad and sisters may relate to.

Now, I look again at 22 or 23 years of my profession—that’s more than 20 years of hustling and producing and directing and performing and activism. It means every thing to me to know that we’re at a crossroads, the place issues are actually altering on the subject of range. Immigrants and our worldwide fan base can now see themselves within the tales we’re creating—and that’s the longer term!

And I’m not simply speaking about being Latino, as a result of the spirit of an immigrant is similar no matter the place you come from. We journey all over the world to attain one thing we by no means had in our international locations of origin.

Can you speak about Nick’s character arc this season, in addition to his budding romance with Eleanor Bishop?

I’m blown away by viewers’ response to this as a result of that’s one thing we’ve by no means carried out earlier than, aside from a bit of look right here and there (laughs). So, it’s form of candy to see that catch hearth, you recognize?

OK, I assume I’ll drop a significant unique for you: We’re going to dive deeper into Nick’s life and historical past this season—and we’ll in all probability meet some members of his household. We will perceive more why he’s single, and why he has a tricky time together with his relationships.


We additionally know that Eleanor’s historical past with relationships has not been eventful both, as a result of she’s additionally misplaced a couple of individuals herself. So, making these two characters come collectively goes to be very fascinating.

I’m telling you this as a result of the present has explored 400 episodes of storylines with these characters, however I wish to do one thing that has not been explored but, one thing that they haven’t had the braveness to go all the best way with.

Is it true that you simply generally overlook what occurs in a given episode?

It’s completely true (laughs). It’s very simple for me to memorize—I can take a look at the scene, learn the script as soon as irrespective of what number of pages there are, rehearse it twice, then I don’t have to have a look at my script once more.

But the opposite facet of that coin is, as quickly as they are saying reduce, as rapidly because it went into my mind can be as rapidly it leaves. I simply transfer on and I’m already on the subsequent scene! I simply overlook as a result of we shoot a lot out of order. Don’t inform anybody I mentioned that (laughs).

You’ve been enjoying Nick for 5 seasons already. But you’re additionally recognized for different well-loved reveals with a sure pop-culture sheen. How totally different is the satisfaction you get from these in comparison with being with “NCIS”?

I don’t wish to sound too overconfident once I say this, however Nick might be the simplest character I’ve ever needed to painting in my life—each different character I’ve performed had quadruple layers to them.

But I wouldn’t say Nick is the closest to me or my character. I’d say the character closest to me is Fez, as a result of I’m loopy and foolish. I’m an fool (laughs)! But severely, each single character is fulfilling as a result of, at any given second, there’s one thing about each character that you want to get out of you.

You have to play it out, whether or not by the use of comedy, drama, horror or motion. Whatever it’s, the character has to return alive. It’s nearly like remedy (laughs)!

Season 18 of “NCIS” airs Mondays at 10 p.m. on Fox (channel 50 on SkyCable, and channel 233 on Cignal).



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