Wilmer Valderrama is having a fantastic year. Following the release of Encanto, the Academy Award-winning Best Animated Feature in which he voiced Mirabel’s accident-prone father Augustin, he learned that NCIS, the CBS cr1me drama in which he stars as Nick Torres, had been renewed for the 2022-23 season. Now, Valderrama is set to make an even bigger impact in the entertainment industry as the title character in the Disney Branded Television series Zorro.
TV Insider spoke with Valderrama on the red carpet at PaleyFest 2022 at the Dolby Theatre, where NCIS was honored, about playing Don Diego de la Vega and his masked alter-ego.
“It was an incredible, incredible year,” Valderrama says, noting that his daughter, Nakano Oceana, turning one is a major cause for celebration. According to the actor, he grew up watching the original 1957-1959 Zorro series, which starred Guy Williams (Lost in Space) in the title role.
“Guy was this daring, romantic, and daring vigilante,” Valderrama recalls. “I was watching TV in Spanish in Venezuela when the series was on.” When I was a little boy, I told my father that I wanted to be Zorro someday!”
That dream came true when Valderrama and Disney teamed up to bring the series back after more than 60 years. “I couldn’t stop crying for two days after the deal was finalized,” the actor says. “Not just for what it means to me, but also for what it means to the community.”
Is Valderrama aware of his father’s reaction to his childhood dream of playing Zorro? “ ‘OK, Mijo!’ he said. Excellent!” He said, “All right, as if it was going to happen.”
While Valderrama has previously played animated characters, he believes that playing Zorro in a live-action series will propel him to a new level in the entertainment industry, including the possibility of being turned into an action figure! “I’ve been toys for animation before,” he says, “but this is a different level.”
“We’re going to bring a very inside look to where [the characters] are and what tolls they’ve [endured],” Valderrama teases for the rest of the current season of NCIS. There will be an episode coming up in the next couple of weeks in which Torres will really struggle.”
Valderrama’s dance card is fairly full between NCIS, Zorro, and, of course, his family. He will, however, happily reprise his lovable That ’70s Show character Fez in the upcoming That ’90s Show if schedules allow. Kurtwood Smith and Debra Jo Rupp will reprise their roles as Red and Kitty Forman in the comedy series. “I’m a little busy now,” Valderrama says with a grin, “but I’m so proud of them.” I’m cheering for them. I wish them the best of luck. And if the opportunity presents itself, I’d never say no.”
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