By Lisa Petrillo

MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Wilmer Valderrama has been in over 120 episodes of “NCIS,” on CBS, but on Monday night, fans will see his character Nick Torres in a predicament he has never faced before. On the episode called “Last Dance,” an infamous arms dealer is released from prison and Torres is forced to face the repercussions of his actions from an undercover operation he worked over a year ago.

Valderrama spoke with CBS4’s Lisa Petrillo to discuss this fascinating episode, how he feels about “NCIS” being renewed for season 20, and why Miami is his home away from home.

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“This case has a love story intertwined into it a story that that he feels somewhat responsible for the outcome and it’s a very sad, fracturing moment for him,” Valderrama said.

“I will say that whatever happens tonight is going to telegraph what’s the fate of this character is in the next year.”

Valderrama, who was born in Miami and raised in Venezuela, calls Miami his home away from home.

“As soon as I hit my 20’s, Miami was my spot. You know all year around tan?  I love Miami so much,” he said.

The 42-year-old actor is an activist and philanthropist. He, along with America Ferrara and Ryan Piers Williams, co-founded HARNASS, a group dedicated to connecting communities through conversation to inspire action and change. 

He also serves on the board of Voto Latino, which educates and empowers Latino youth to get out and vote. 

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“It all started with my family of immigrants coming to America to work hard and be self-made and contribute and turn it back around and continue to do your part to make it a better country,” he explained.

“I think it’s exciting for everyone to learn that long standing tradition of democracy and I think that’s what’s made America a welcoming melting pot,” said Valderrama. “It’s an exciting time for the evolution of the next phase of us as a community in America.” 

Valderrama also talked about the evolution of his character.

“Season 20 just got picked up, so we have a runway and a canvas to do some things,” said Valderrama. “With this character, we’ve done the crossover episodes and we put him through a lot of trauma. There has been a lot of fracturing that has happened to him the last couple of years. Tonight, we uncover a lot of what he’s been and what he used to be. He is going to go through a tough transition as he decides what he wants to be. We have a case from the past and there is a love story intertwined in there that he was a part of and that comes full circle. It gives him something to really fight for or something to perhaps feel really guilty about. I think there is something about that that is going to be transformative for the character and he will never be the same after tonight.”

Valderrama says Monday night’s episode will be emotional, dramatic and one that will be very telling in defining the future for Torres. In addition to his time on “NCIS,” the actor has appeared in movies such as “Encanto” and TV shows such as “That ’70’s Show.” Valderrama also recently became a father and he says he looks at his career through the perspective of how the content he is working on will impact his daughter.

“I had a moment of reflection during Easter because I was looking at my daughter and she is 14 months old and she is walking around for the first time and I looked back at all the roles I’ve played and all the roles I want to play tomorrow. They are directly attached and what reality do I want her to grow up into. I want to be responsible for those characters that are contributing to where we have to go next with content. I think a lot my next chapter will be creating characters that she will see herself in and feel connected to. I hope other audiences and young people can see that.”

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“NCIS” airs Monday nights at 9pm on CBS4 and is available on Paramount+.

Lisa Petrillo