NCIS: Wilmer Valderrama Previews Unexpected Family Reunion and Teases “Controversy” and “Badass” Finale
This week on CBS ‘NCIS, Special Agent Nick Torres (played by Wilmer Valderrama) gets a blast from his complicated past when Steven Bauer (Ray Donovan) visits as his longtime MIA father, Miguel.
What are the difficult details of the Torres men’s past? And how did their decades of separation help make Nick the man he is today? TVLine spoke to Valderrama about this Tuesday’s insightful episode, the growing Torres / Gibbs bond, an impending “crossroads” for Nick and Ellie (Emily Wickersham), and this season’s live watching! Final.
TVLINE | First of all, congratulations on the renewal of the 19th season….
Many Thanks! Yeah, it’s really cool when it works like that. As actors, we are always looking for a job that is reliable, sustainable and that we continue to love. That’s the goal, so we’re very happy. We are very blessed.
TVLINE | In this landscape you can’t take that for granted.
Absolutely not. You think of the challenges we’ve seen in the industry with the ever-spinning door of new platforms and new content destinations, and the need to cultivate and keep an audience that is engaged and true to the window of opportunity and all that . There are many variables. And then you add a pandemic to that … Now is really a time for entertainment – we’ve needed it more than ever – so this is exciting.
TVLINE | As I turned to this week’s episode, I tried to refresh my memory: What did we know about Nick’s father beforehand?
We didn’t really know much because Torres doesn’t really say much about his personal life. [Laughs] He didn’t open the door on his journey before joining NCIS. I mean, we know he was an undercover agent for eight to nine years, he worked on international cases and stuff like that, so it was a very difficult thing for him to adjust to working as a team in a stationary location As opposed to different people will have to infiltrate and get the bad guys. His identity is a little bit mysterious, isn’t it? And that was on purpose.
But yes, we know he has a sister – in the episode they introduced me on there was one try in their life and her husband died during that try in their life. And I have a niece. But that’s all we know But in this episode, we’re going to be unraveling a lot more than Torres is comfortable feeling! You will really understand why Torres has this chip on his shoulder and where he got the idea from that he simply cannot be emotionally attached to anyone. You will learn more about where he came from, what kind of life he led as a kid, how he became a man today. The exciting thing about this episode is that it pulls back layers and layers of subtext that fans have been asking for for years.
TVLINE | Talk about having Steven Bauer for your TV dad because he has a real action move and of course Scarface…. It’s pretty great casting.
Weeks before they started developing the episode, [the writers] came up to me and said, “Hey, we’re thinking of a Torres episode where we learn more about where he’s from and his dad isn’t around or possibly dead …” Immediately, I remembered that I was for CBS had made a pilot named Four Stars, which were two four-star families run by Bruce Greenwood and Steven Bauer, and Steven Bauer played my father in that pilot. It was this beautiful, amazing pilot – a real shame it couldn’t – but from that pilot came the idea of CBS to offer me NCIS.
TVLINE | We come full circle, man!
Full circle! When my father’s idea came up, I immediately said, “What about Steven Bauer?” And they said, “Holy st. What about Steven Bauer? “It worked out perfectly. It’s really well developed and the story is very personal for Torres so I think it will be great for fans to see Steven play this character. I think we will light the screen together.
TVLINE | Without spoiling anything, I had a question about the last scene this week. Torres shows up at Gibbs’, Gibbs eats a steak that he has just grilled in his fireplace … And Torres looks at him with a certain smile. What was this look about?
That was a moment that we really made by hand – and we did that because Gibbs really became a “random father figure” for Torres. For a while, Torres had no real direction as he only went from mission to mission, and Gibbs gives him a family, one he never had. To be honest, Gibbs has been more of a father to Torres than anyone over the past few years. When Torres got hit by that car and was in the hospital, it was an emotionally available Gibbs like you’ve never seen him show up. It was really interesting to see Gibbs being so concerned and attached to Torres, so without revealing anything it’s built on, this week’s scene is kind of a reminder of the unspoken bond they have. And you’ll see where this relationship goes from here; It is a beacon of things to come. We built it this way because Torres learns not just to be a team member but also to be a leader. As the show progresses into its 19th season, it’s fun peeling off those layers but also giving these two characters more of the bond fans might want to see.
TVLINE | In January there was this episode in which Torres and Bishop – shortly after she almost died – were trapped in adjoining cells in an old sheriff’s office and she was standing on a pressure-sensitive bomb trigger…. And there was a gap in time when I felt like something could have happened or been said between them that the audience wasn’t privy to. There is also the whole COVID time jump that has not been taken into account. Is there light on things that have happened between them that we do not yet know about?
We’ll definitely crack that this season. We come to a crossroads for these two characters where they have to be really honest about who they are to each other and who they are to themselves. This is something that I think the writers did very well in a kind of breadcrumb way. The question of what are they outside of the badge is covered this season. There is a big moment they are going to experience – and who knows, is it the moment they wanted or a moment they didn’t want? [Laughs] Shouldn’t they break a Gibbs rule or should they just choose to do it? We’re going to play with this performance, and since there are only a few episodes left, I’d say it’ll be around soon!
TVLINE | Finally, what do you hear about the season finale (broadcast on May 25)? How will it leave fans for the summer?
You know what? I’ll tell you something: it’s not an episode that you want to record and watch later. [Laughs] Because I’m telling you, there are going to be some big, big, big, big spoiler warnings. This is an episode that you want to show up for.
I think the writers did a great job putting together something that the pandemic took from us last year, a real end to the season. I think we’re going to combine a lot of the seeds we planted in seasons 17 and 18 and give fans a real finale. Like a real, explosive finale, for which a show whose loyal audience shows up live deserves to be seen. I mean, we’re going to give people a lot to tell. I’m not someone who says, “You have to wait and see!” Hype, but man, this episode is really unpredictable. I promise you won’t see any of this coming.
TVLINE | Is it in part a basis for what Mark Harmon will ultimately decide about his engagement for the next season? Whether he is on the road a little or a lot …?
I can only speak for Torres. I don’t play Gibbs and it’s not my journey to comment on, but I’ll say this episode is just bad man. It’s a very emotional, controversial type of episode. There are some promotions, there are things fans really wanted to see, and there are some answers that they have been looking for. People will get answers to many of the questions.
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