Wilmer Valderrama Reveals What It Was Really Like Joining The NCIS Cast

Actor Wilmer Valderrama is most recognized for starring as an exchange student named Fez on the Emmy Award-winning series "That '70s Show." The popular comedy series that won him three Teen Choice Awards in 2003, 2005, and 2006, per IMDb. The producer and television personality has landed a list of impressive roles since entering the Hollywood spotlight as a teenager in the late '90s.

More recently, he added the hit CBS legal drama "NCIS: Naval Criminal Investigative Service" to his résumé, because as Valderrama told People, he wanted to take on a more "dangerous and explosive" role. Although a comedy series is what got him his start as a mainstream celebrity and something Valderrama said he "really misses," the actor noted that "drama and action is pretty fulfilling." 

So when Valderrama joined the cast of "NCIS," he had to figure out his place on set while working among veteran actors on the hit crime series like Michael Weatherly and Sean Murray, both special agents since its pilot in 2003. However, the "Minority Report" actor has said his transition from comedy to action-drama always felt like the right decision.

Why Wilmer Valderrama felt 'very comfortable' joining NCIS

When actor and producer Wilmer Valderrama first joined the cast of "NCIS" as Special Agent Nicholas "Nick" Torres in Season 14, he had to deal with being the "new kid on the block," as TV host Kelly Ripa best stated during an interview on "Live with Kelly and Ryan" in 2019. Valderrama told Ripa and her co-host Ryan Seacrest that joining one of the most-watched dramas on primetime television was "tricky and confusing because it's already so successful" with established actors.

Valderrama told the audience that because so many fans "already loved the characters," he had to work extra hard to make his role into someone who could "eventually move the show into a different universe of storylines." Although that may have seemed like a challenge, he said fans have seemingly received his character really well.

But Valderrama opened up at a Comic-Con round table in 2016 about being confident about joining the drama show, because he's "not a stranger to long-standing families," as he did eight years and 200 episodes on "That '70s Show," reported the Daily Actor. He added that he "felt very familiar and very comfortable" joining "NCIS" and fit in with the group almost immediately.

Wilmer Valderrama wanted his NCIS character to be 'different'

"NCIS" star Wilmer Valderrama knew that he needed to "create a character that was dynamic, different, and colorful" in order to establish a role that was meant to last on the CBS crime drama that airs every Tuesday night, per an interview on "Live with Kelly and Ryan." He emphasized his concern for making his character Special Agent Nick Torres "loud and disruptive with a purpose" because he knew the popularity of the longtime series and its competition, with the Los Angeles Times reporting the crime show averaged 8.4 millions viewers per episode in 2021. 

Valderrama said playing his "very unpredictable" character and investigating major crimes alongside "NCIS" regulars like Mark Harmon all came naturally, even though he's "never played a character like this," telling the crowd at a roundtable at Comic-Con in 2016, "the layers are insane," per the Daily Actor. Now that viewers have gotten a feel for Agent Torres for five seasons, it's clear fans have appreciated his take on making his role "crazy" and contrast from previous ones on the longtime series. But Valderrama told Entertainment Tonight that "hard work" conquers all and it's the key to making something work, even on a set that's been established for a decade and a half like "NCIS."