PopEntertainment.com > Feature
Interviews - Actors > Feature Interviews U
to Z > Wilmer Valderrama (2006 interview)
by Brad Balfour
Copyright ©2006 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved.
December 9, 2006.
Miami-born actor Wilmer Valderrama has come a long way since his days as
Fez, the quirky foreign exchange student who was often the butt of jokes
on the popular TV series That Ď70s Show. The 26-year-old jovial,
handsome charmer Ė known for gallivanting around with some of Hollywood's
hardest-partying starlets Ė grew up in
and moved to Los Angeles with his family at age 13.
Initially successful for his comedic work, Valderrama is proving he can
take on more serious projects such as Fast Food Nation as well.
From creating the funny MTV show Yo Momma! (heís the executive
producer) to his most recently released laugh fest, Unaccompanied
Minors. In this family film, he plays the assistant to his acerbic
boss (Lewis Black); both are made frantic looking for a group of
unaccompanied minors snowed in at Chicago's fictional Hoover International
Airport during the holiday season.
Valderrama is growing into a hardworking, sharply focused talent striving
to branch out beyond the obvious clichťs of a comic actor and the
stereotypes often foisted on the Latino actors of his generation. But at
the same he will do what it takes to support whatever film he makes Ė and
hopefully do something good by doing so. That's what happened the other
day. Valderrama joined several kids from the Little Flower Children and
Family Services on a $1000 Shopping Spree at FAO Schwartz Ė all for a good
cause and cute movie.
Youíve been getting a
great reaction to the wide range of work youíve been doing lately.
Over the past two years I worked on strategizing the [most recent] chapter
of my career. I have to say that it feels good to have people like [Fast
Food Nation] director Richard Linklater, [Unaccompanied Minors
director] Paul Feig and the people [such as the other writers of Yo
Momma] at MTV who trusted me with my ideas and talents.
techniques do you utilize to make your characters convincing?
couple of months before [the legendary actor] Anthony Quinn [who won an
Oscar for Zorba the Greek] passed away we had a conversation about
acting and he told me that actors are meant to be chameleons. We are meant
to remind everybody of their brothers, sisters, neighbors, bosses,
coworkers and ex-husbands. Itís exciting to be able to take that piece of
advice seriously. I love choosing characters that are so different from me
which might change someoneís perspective and assumptions that they might
already have [of who I really am.]
Your latest comedy,
Unaccompanied Minors is cute as hell; yet youíve made such a
progression as an actor that you deserve support for the effort.
really appreciate hearing that and Iíve got to tell you I have only come
across a couple of people in the media that have been really supportive of
me and understand what Iím doing as a performer.
Still everyone says
itís tough working with animals and kids. So, what was it like working
with kids from
Working with the kids was amazing. I have a six-year-old baby brother, an
18-year-old and a 25-year-old sister. So, I grew up with kids around me
and this was a thrill. The kids were talented and fun.
projects have you been working on and whatís coming up next?
This has been an exciting Fall season. First I launched Handy Manny
for Disney, which was a great success for the channel and then finished up
the second season of Yo Momma, where I brought the show to New
York. Then I did Fast Food Nation, which I consider to be one of my
most important projects of my career so far. After that I did
Unaccompanied Minors, which brought me back to my comedy roots.
Iím starting out í07 by going to Germany and doing three live shows at
three different army bases for our troops. Then after Germany I come back
to shoot the third season of Yo Momma, in Atlanta. Also, I will be
in pre-production for two films and then later next year Iíll be shooting
Which two films?
havenít released them yet. One of them I am producing and the other one I
am just really excited to do.
If you are going to be
a producer, have you learned to save money and account for budgeting the
Iíve been playing it safe with everything Iíve done and have been saving
money and using it wisely.
played off your Latino heritage as a foreign exchange student on That Ď70s Show. Is being a Latino actor a
burden or blessing to such an evolving career?
anything I think itís a gift. I can really separate myself from a lot of
the stereotypes that already exist in America today. Actually, in
retrospect Iíd love to be one of the actors that change the stereotype of
Latinos in America. I think itís been a fantastic pursuit and mission
through my work where I can highlight the great people in our culture. But
I focus on entertaining everyone from all cultures.
How does it feel to
have built a classic character, Fez, during your time on That Ď70s Show?
was great to be part of a show that was on the air for a decade making it
a major part of many peoples upbringing. I mean, I was 18-years-old when I
started the show and I think I was pretty brave in the odd choices I made
at the time. Somehow, they were right and somehow I hit it on the nail and
the character. I could never ask for more as a performer.
What did you learn
about the Ď70s from being on the show?
learned a lot more about the Ď70s from the show than I did from history
class. There are a lot of things that we talked about on the show and I
learned to love the music as well which was cool.
Are going to try to
initiate philosophical or more serious projects?
grew hungry for projects that have some kind of message and for it to be
delivered in a non-preachy way. After finishing That Ď70s Show, I
wanted to focus on projects that matter. Luckily, Iíve been stumbling upon
some great projects and directors that think about it in the same way I
all the fame you acquired from your run at
That Ď70s Show, you were highlighted in the media quite often. Do you
think we are too celebrity-focused in our society?
think the media is changing and transitioning to things that matter like
social issues and that people are really trying to focus on what the next
wave of demand should be.
As a celebrity, you
must know what it feels like to be in all the tabloids and associated with
party-girls such as Lindsay Lohan. What advice would you give Britney
Spears about being ďover-exposedĒ in the media as she tries to make a come
back after her two-year hiatus?
I am trying to figure it out myself as a person too. I wouldnít be able to
advise anybody about that. Iíve been trying to focus on my work and how I
want people to see my performances. Iíd say the most important thing is to
focus on your work no matter what.
CLICK HERE TO SEE WHAT
WILMER VALDERRAMA HAD TO SAY TO US IN 2012!