Wilmer Valderrama got his big break as the goofy Fez in eight years of the half-hour comedy THAT ‘70S SHOW, but since then he’s done a lot of dramatic roles and expanded into producing and comic books. Right now, television viewers can see the Miami-born Valderrama as a series regular on two entirely different series.
On Fox Network, Monday nights at 9 PM, Valderrama plays credit-hogging police lieutenant Will Blake in MINORITY REPORT. Based on the story by Philip K. Dick and the 2002 feature film directed by Steven Spielberg (who serves as one of the show’s executive producers), MINORITY REPORT is set in 2065, ten years after the events of the movie. Using “precogs,” people who can see the future, to predict crimes is now illegal, but Blake rightly suspects that Detective Vega (played by Meagan Good) has teamed up with a precog (Stark Sands) to prevent murders.
Meanwhile, Valderrama is in his second season on El Rey’s Tuesday night supernatural action crime drama FROM DUSK TILL DAWN (also adapted from a feature film that was directed by series creator Robert Rodriguez and scripted by Quentin Tarantino from Robert Kurtzman’s story), playing Carlos Madrigal. Carlos is not only a gangster, but a centuries-old former conquistador who has become a Culebra, a snake-based vampire. Carlos is among the baddest of the bad, and having his queen/lover Santanico Pandemonium (Eiza Gonzalez) take off with newly-turned bank robber Richie Gecko (played by Zane Holtz) being trapped in a mystical labyrinth has done nothing to make Carlos any nicer.
Valderrama, who is also producing a documentary series for Oxygen on athlete Gabby Douglas, sits down at West Hollywood’s Soho House during Fox Network’s party for the Television Critics Association summer press tour to talk about both his characters, and more.
AX: How are you scheduling shooting MINORITY REPORT with FROM DUSK TILL DAWN?
WILMER VALDERRAMA: Well, I’ve been very lucky, because FROM DUSK TILL DAWN was shooting [in Austin, Texas] during pilot season. When I got the call from the team at 20th and Steven Spielberg that this was going to happen, Robert Rodriguez, the studio, the line producers and everybody else, they talked it out and they allowed me to move my schedule around on DUSK so I could fly to Toronto to shoot the [MINORITY REPORT] pilot. Now, FROM DUSK TILL DAWN shoots very off-season, so by the time we were finishing FROM DUSK TILL DAWN, a week and a half later, I was in Vancouver shooting this show.
It was really lucky, because 20th Century Fox and the Fox network have been my home for ten years. I started my professional career here on the Fox Network, so I was really blessed that they were so understanding and so welcoming and so excited to have me back that they worked it out for me to be able to make good shows. And Robert Rodriguez is one of my idols as well, so I really wanted to be able to work with him, it was an opportunity that was so unique for me, so I wanted to do it.
AX: In MINORITY REPORT, your character Will Blake starts out seeming a little bit willfully blind. Does he stay like that, or does he start realizing that Detective Vega is onto something?
VALDERRAMA: He’s too smart. Because Detective Vega and Lieutenant Will Blake have had some history in the past, he knows her very well. He knows her to the point where he understands that she may not be working alone. I do believe that she is a brilliant detective, don’t get me wrong, but these cases are elaborate. They’re dark, the stakes are very high. So I grow suspicious. Does she have an informant? Who is this informant, and why she is not sharing this information with her precinct and her boss and her friend, because I am her friend at the end of the day. So he suspects that there is somebody helping, that she’s got some kind of process that the precinct and myself is not exposed to. And that’s where it starts. The question for us this season for my character is, how much is he willing to just look the other way for the sake of friendship, and knowing that he’s the boss, the lieutenant, how much is he willing to dig in to see what’s really going on here? And what really happens if he finds out that she is working with a Pre-Cog? Because he is so by the book and by the rules, he’s so driven by the system, that this is really wrong. This may actually be so wrong that you’re now crossing the line. So where does that leave their friendship and where can they go from there? Can she bring him in as an ally, does she have to lie to him forever? We’re going to see that play out.
AX: Have you ever had anything comparable in your own work situation, where you see a colleague do something where you think, should I let them keep doing that or should I tell somebody?
VALDERRAMA: You mean, in real life? I’ve been in this thing for almost twenty years now, and I’ve seen a lot of young actors with a lot of promise. They get the ticket and they get that heat. And they start doing things based on certain realities and certain definitions and certain thoughts or opinions or advice. I’ve seen it come and go, and when I see them doing what I know for a fact is going to lead to self-destruction, as much as you can be a part of it, as much as you can come in and help them get out of it, or steer them the other way, sometimes you have to let them make that mistake. So I think in a way [it relates to] this character, he’s going to let Vega explore this. Right now, she’s solving cases. What happens when the case doesn’t get solved?
AX: You’ve played a cop before MINORITY REPORT, and you’re playing an epic badass on FROM DUSK TILL DAWN. Do either of those things or both of those things help with the MINORITY REPORT character?
VALDERRAMA: I think for me it’s more refreshing than anything to be able to play the good guy [on MINORITY and such a bad man on the other one. The comparison and the ability to exercise a muscle that I hadn’t in a very long time, that I’ve only done in independent films, and to be able to do it in a serialized form, where you can really explore the characters, and live with the character as an actor, that just doesn’t happen very often for any actor, so it’s a lot of fun. I will tell you that sometimes I change my voice for DUSK, and then when I come here, I have to remember to do this, do that, change it a little bit, but it’s been fascinating. I’ve had a good time splitting both characters.
AX: In FROM DUSK TILL DAWN, is Carlos feeling sort of alone in the world now that he’s not working with Santanico, or is he enjoying being a lone snake?
VALDERRAMA: When he was sent to the Labyrinth to be re-educated, I think he wasn’t expecting to get out alive, and when he did, he was not only a changed man, but he built certain ideals for himself. He said, “Okay, this is broken. She broke the trust, she broke the loyalty. We had a plan. I was going to make you a queen. I was going to make you a god. You betrayed me and left with this schmoe to do some Bonnie and Clyde game. Well, okay, guess what? You go ahead and drown in your own plans. Because now, I’m the god. Now I’m the lord.” Because I was working to make her a living legend, out of love. But she broke that. I said, “Okay, f*** that. I’m going to take this over.” And what he’s doing in this season – he’s doing it for himself. So he starts negotiating like a businessman, what he’s going to give everyone. He gives everyone a version of what their dream is, what their reality or what their freedom is going to be, and then the rest of it becomes what he’s going to control and what he’s going to monopolize.
AX: Do you have to deal with a lot of prosthetics when Carlos goes full-on Culebra?
VALDERRAMA: Yes. [Effects makeup designer] Greg Nicotero has created all of our looks. It’s a little easier than before. What took four hours before is now taking about forty-five minutes or an hour. So I’m grateful for that, because that can really take your mojo away [when] you’re waiting there four hours and you go into a scene. But our prosthetic work is incredible. I mean, Greg Nicotero of THE WALKING DEAD is just incredible. Also, he did all of the stuff on the original FROM DUSK TILL DAWN. So it’s that thing of coming full circle. He’s a fantastic human being.
AX: Danny Trejo is in this season as a character called the Regulator. Do you get to work with him?
VALDERRAMA: Yeah. He’s awesome. I can hear his voice and I’m like, “Yeah, I’m going to get my a** kicked.” [laughs] We have a scene where I had a moment to myself and I’m sitting and I’m looking up at Danny Trejo. And I go, “Why don’t we negotiate?” And he looks down at me and he goes [does Danny Trejo impression], “I don’t negotiate. I regulate.” When Danny looks at you, man, you know an a**-whipping comes right after that [laughs], but it’s very cool. I’ve got to tell you, it’s so iconic to look at him opposite you, it’s just great.
AX: Obviously, Danny Trejo isn’t on MINORITY REPORT, but does the new show have anything that’s similarly scary?
VALDERRAMA: Yeah. The predicted future, some of the things that may happen to society within the show that you will see play in the season, is scary. It’s more a psychological scare. We’re going to introduce technology that most likely will be created and will be real in the future. We’re going to have to solve crimes supported by technology that doesn’t exist, but when it does, you’re going to see crimes that you could never piece together, you could never add up. So that’s what makes it really scary. We’re going to deal with a very different chapter of crime and how it evolves with technology and how it evolves in the future.
AX: Even with all the technology, do you still have run and gun on the show?
VALDERRAMA: Yes, absolutely. I’m excited because I get to do a lot of the action stuff. But what’s really neat is that Steven Spielberg has created a number of weapons that are also going to assist crime-fighting in the future. They’re smart weapons that were developed based on past [real-world] experiences and hopefully reduce casualties.
AX: Actors who are on legal shows and medical shows talk about having to learn a lot of jargon that’s very tongue-twisty. Do you have any futuristic jargon in MINORITY REPORT?
VALDERRAMA: Yup. I [played a police detective in] AWAKE – cool, cop lingo, great, describe the crime scene, describe the suspect. In this, the names are more exotic, the technology that we use to piece together the cases are different, the procedures are different, so it’s nuts. So it’s like we have completely recreated an entire vocabulary for cops, and it’s fun, because you’re talking about Idents, you’re talking about Maglets – “Where’s the Maglet?” – because the cars are running on magnetics. So there is a new language that we have created for the show.
AX: Speaking of AWAKE, which had Jason Isaacs as a police detective who kept waking up in two different realities, do you know what was going on at the very end, where he woke up and the realities seemed to have merged, but then there was a hint he was still dreaming?
VALDERRAMA: AWAKE, it was crazy. I just saw [AWAKE creator] Kyle Killen in Austin, Texas, for the TV festival, and it was awesome, because we started talking about, so what did the last episode mean? The idea was, when [Isaac’s character] saw his wife and his kid in the same kitchen alive, together and well, that he had developed a third reality. He was so exhausted by not really sleeping, because he was living in two different worlds and waking up in one, waking up in the other one, that he was so exhausted, he developed a third reality. So the idea was that he saw his wife and his kid, and then he looked down and there was a penguin [indicating he was still dreaming]. It’s like this is probably not real. I miss Steve Harris, I miss Jason Isaacs, and I miss working with Howard Gordon and Kyle Killen. Those guys were just super-smart.
AX: Do you have any other projects we should know about?
VALDERRAMA: I have a big movie that I’m producing, with my company [WV Enterprises] that’s now a studio. We have a couple of movies in development, we have a bunch of graphic novels already on the market that we created. One’s called OPERATION REDUX, the other one’s called GOLD MEDAL RABBIT, and then SYNDROME and UNITED FREE WORLDS, and those graphic novels are likely going to be TV shows and movies, because we’re already developing them for that. And then I have a big show that I’m developing with Robert Rodriguez for another major studio to do.
AX: And what would you most like people to know about MINORITY REPORT and FROM DUSK TILL DAWN?
VALDERRAMA: Two shows that have never been seen before, two shows that are pushing envelopes, that are breaking rules and that come from two visionaries.
Article Source: Assignment X
Article: MINORITY REPORT: Wilmer Valderrama gives the scoop on Season 1 – exclusive interview