NCIS Roundtable Interview with Wilmer Valderrama at SDCC 2016
Things are shaking up this year for Gibbs’ team on NCIS. Michael Weatherly’s fan favorite character, Tony Dinozzo, has officially left D.C. Thankfully, we have newcomers like Wilmer Valderrama to help fill the massive hole that Tony left behind.
After sitting down Wilmer describes how much he loves Comic Con. He says that the energy and fan craze is great. He himself is a fan of everything on the floor at Comic Con and will continue to look forward to coming back to San Diego.
While Wilmer is not necessarily filling Tony’s shoes, the entire NCIS team has to find a way to create this new character for people to love. When asking how Wilmer felt coming in at this point in the game and hoping the fans will be behind him, he says, “It’s interesting. Michael had a really great opportunity. You know, it’s time to evolve. He had his own opportunity to drive his own show which looks really good. I think that’s fantastic. The truth is that the show has built such a strong foundation. The show isn’t about any specific character. It was really about the family; it was really about what they did together as a team. Their infrastructure is bulletproof. You know, and to me, I look at it as an opportunity to expand on that universe. To me, that’s the reason why this is exciting and why the Tony character moving on really opens the door for a different dynamic. It opens the door for expanding in ways that maybe the show couldn’t before. So to me I think it’s an exciting opportunity for the fans to not only get reinvested in the show but explore more of what NCIS can be.”
It turns out that CBS and NCIS are lucky to have Wilmer agreed to sign onto their show. Wilmer has been in the acting business for years, and it’s no surprise that he’s a highly coveted actor. About receiving the news of the character for NCIS, Wilmer tells us, “When I had a conversation with the showrunner I had just finished Minority Report and From Dusk Until Dawn, and I had done this Pilot for CBS. And I was really humbled that the studio and the network loved what I did on the Pilot.” Wilmer said that the studio let him know that he was the first call for this opportunity and they thought he was the right guy to really help the show try new things. “I was ridiculously flattered because I had three different shows in development with three different major producers and studios for me to star in. And the more conversations I had with Gary [Glasberg] and the team and CBS, the more I felt like the opportunity was to return to network, the opportunity was to join a long standing family. But I was excited to parachute into a moving train. I just felt very ignited by the opportunity.”
So now that the network was able to bring in a powerhouse like Wilmer Valderrama, they need a character to develop the compelling story that they want. Of his character, Wilmer says, “I wanted to come in and play something that the universe of NCIS had never seen. I wanted to create a character that felt unique and refreshing but was disruptive.” Wilmer’s character, Nick Torres, is an undercover NCIS agent who has been off the grid for a few years. He has completely lost contact with the NCIS, and the agency now just presumes him dead. When his cover is blown in Argentina, Nick returns to Washington DC and NCIS. Nick Torres returns to DC a different man. He’s unstable and unpredictable. As a lone wolf, Nick Torres is definitely not going to be an easy fit onto Gibbs’ team. Wilmer describes Torres’ return as “a hurricane of emotions.”
With only five days into shooting, Wilmer is just warming up, but he seems to be getting along well with the rest of the cast. He talks of a scene that he shot with Mark Harmon. “The moment they said cut, we high fived and hugged.” Wilmer says, “We’re pushing ourselves for a whole different dynamic, a whole different tone.” As for how Gibbs will react to having Nick Torres around, Wilmer says, “Gibbs sees something unique in him that he sees as an asset for the team. He just has to shape it into form, mold it into what he’s supposed to be. I think that in many ways this character could be that black sheep in the family that could be that All Star American for them.”
I’m glad to hear that NCIS is taking the opportunity to really rock the boat. The standard formula has done them well for 13 seasons, but I’ll be happy to see how these new characters stir the pot. Tune in for the NCIS season 14 premiere on Tuesday September 20th at 8pm.