‘NCIS’: Wilmer Valderrama on the relationship between dad and Bishop de Torres (exclusive)

Spoiler alert! Do not continue if you have not seen Tuesday’s episode of NCIS.

Nick Torres may have gotten answers about his father, but they ended heartbreakingly.

Tuesday’s episode of NCIS He unpacked Torres’s heartbreaking family history, delving into the real truths behind his nonexistent relationship with his absent father, who abandoned Torres and the family when he was five and whom he believed was dead. It turns out that his father, Miguel (guest star Steven Bauer), had been alive this entire time, working dangerous covert missions for various government agencies over the years, most recently for the CIA. Although Torres understood that his father was lazy and a liar, the NCIS agent was shocked to find that the older Torres was keeping an eye on him and even helped the family financially (through the church) over the years.

After a dramatic confrontation between Torres and his father against a rogue CIA agent, there was a moment when Torres believed he had lost his father. again – after being shot several times. Fortunately, that was not the case (wow, bulletproof vests!). Despite decades of estrangement between father and son, Torres extended an olive branch, invited him to dinner and even proposed to make up for lost time with other family members. Miguel agreed. But when Torres arrived at his hotel later that night, he was nowhere to be found. Gone again. Instead, Torres ended up at Gibbs’s house and the two friends shared a moment of understanding silence. His father wasn’t his family, his NCIS team was.

“We’ve been teasing a lot of what Torres is to this team and what he is for years. That’s what’s exciting about this, weeks before. [the episode] It was even written, the writers and showrunners came up to me and said, ‘Hey, we really want to do an episode of Torres where we find out a little more about his past, where he came from, so we can have a deeper understanding. whose is he. I was excited about that opportunity, “Wilmer Valderrama tells ET.

After the episode, the actor talks about Torres’ bittersweet reveal about his father, his character’s slow relationship with Bishop, and what he’s waiting for in season 19.

ET: When you received the script for this episode, what were your initial thoughts on exploring Torres’s relationship with his estranged father?

Wilmer Valderrama: It was exciting. I had shared my real father’s journey with them when I was younger and in Venezuela. My dad was there for me; he was really there for me. We started to play with “What if he wasn’t? Maybe that’s a beacon that really got him into a world of undercover work and allowed him to capture the bad guy, and not be emotionally available because he never had that permission.” It was a lot of fun having that conversation. When we started to think about it, what it meant and what the case was and how it all came about, it became even more exciting to know that “OK, we’re going to catch your daddy.” We started thinking about the people who would show up. He had done a pilot with Steven Bauer called Four stars. It was about two four-star generals, and Bruce Greenwood and Steven Bauer played four-star generals. I played Steven Bauer’s son in that pilot. That was the pilot that CBS used to basically offer me the NCIS invitation. I started thinking to myself, “Man, this would be great if we had Steven Bauer,” and everyone was like, “Yeah, what about Steven Bauer?” It showed up and it was all we needed. I am so excited with how it all turned out.

You learn a lot about Torres’s father and the real truth behind his absence from Torres’s life. What was it really like to delve into Torres’ family history and fill in those blanks for you?

The truth is that, for Torres, he has clung to how things were literally and emotionally at home, and he has not understood the pain that his father possibly went through. But also for his father not to understand the pain that he and his mother even went through, I think it was a great revelation. It’s a great moment and a great iconic moment for Torres to really understand what sacrifices were made back then for the possibility that he is a man that he could be or could become. The circumstances were what the circumstances were. When you look at new information, it’s like you don’t want to believe it. You still want to be mad because you are talking about 30 years of being mad at someone. “Hey, I can’t undo that hatred, it almost deconstructs who I am.” That was a very difficult conversation for all of us, the writers and the producers. Even with Bauer and I in our dynamic, we had a lot of phone conversations about it. “What do you mean by that? Where do you come from? How do you feel when you say those things?” When we went on set, we wanted to get a sense that Torres really knew where he was coming from and felt a certain way. So that new information really challenged everything he was and what he became, because if he had been given that information when he was younger, who knows what Torres’ vision would be for a father. I think Gibbs has accidentally become the father Torres never had. This NCIS team also accidentally became the family he never had.

In the past few years, you’ve seen Torres soften a bit and be a more positive member of the team, and about his teammates, and about supporting each other. In this episode, you really see him stop dramatically. When Torres walks into the hotel room, what does that mean when his father is not there? It’s almost a confirmation of everything Torres was before, it’s a confirmation that maybe he should go back to who he was before, “Yeah, exactly, that’s the answer I wanted. Well, great, you broke my heart again. Now how do I believe everything you told me before this? “

In the final moments of the episode, there is still hope on Torres’ part that his father may have turned the page. Then he sees that his dad is gone. What was going through Torres’s mind at that moment when he realized, “He’s who I thought he was all these years …”?

They had just fought for each other’s lives. He thought he almost lost his father when he was shot. He saw that moment as: “Now I know too much, but not enough. Please don’t die.” Then when she survived and to get over that, then there’s this notion of, “While you’re here, you might as well meet your niece and see your other daughter. Are we going to eat or something?” When he says “yes,” Torres really believes it. I don’t think Torres is assuming: “Now you’re going to be my dad. We’re going to play ball.” Just think, “I need a chance to find out who my father really was and what he’s been through because that will heal.” He was excited to heal, he was excited to move on. He was excited to show his father, “I know you sacrificed a lot for my mother, for me, and for everyone else in our family, but don’t worry, we’re fine. We turned out fine.” When he was walking to that hotel and saw the empty hotel room, Torres at that moment realized, “Wait a minute, does anything he told me have any truth? Did he betray my trust again? He told me a movie and now used it to go left again? “

When he shows up at Gibbs’ house, he doesn’t know he’s driving home. When he walks in, he wasn’t there to have any conversation, he wasn’t there to process anything. He says, “I’m not trying to be emotionally available either.” I think Gibbs understands when Torres says, “I don’t want to talk about it.” He says, “Then you came to the right place.” That is its form. These are two experienced bulls who deal with emotions. For Torres, I think it means: “Maybe that’s why I was undercover for so long. That’s why I wasn’t emotionally attached to anything. That’s why I trained myself not to be in one place for too long, to become anything.” but me to catch the bad guy. “He confirmed that he should no longer trust anyone. That is going to make him a number, and something fractured and broke in Torres. You are going to see how it develops. He is not going to trust many people. The only people he really knows who to trust is his team, because he knows they’ve been through worse together in some way.

Torres and Bishop’s relationship has been quite slow. What can you say about what viewers can expect with your close bond?

Fans have seen the seeds of a closer and deeper connection between the two. I think they really have a very special and honest relationship. They can trust each other. They know that they are not emotionally available to each other or to the world. I mean, they’ve been through too much for them to break their own rules and figure out how to make it work. I think that’s why it’s so slow. They just don’t know how to be in a relationship. You wear the badge for so long and you give yourself to service, and then when it comes time to do something for yourself, it’s really hard to do it. For Bishop, the few times he has tried to be emotionally available have backfired. The same for Torres. Most of their relationships were part of an undercover plan to catch the bad guy. It is difficult for them to really know how to make a square fit the triangle. It’s this Tetris. They are playing Tetris with their minds and they don’t really know where they fit into each other. But I will tell you that this is the season that you will discover.

Oh really?

Yes. There is something exciting where you can explore the psychology of both or where they come from. Regardless of what fans have been wondering, what is it really, what is it not, they will get their answers this season … It’s vague but it’s incredibly loaded. That is all I can tell you.

Congratulations on the renewal of season 19. What are you looking forward to with another year on the show and getting at least another year of work for you on the show?

Because we stopped our 17th season abruptly, we were unable to have a proper season finale. Although we returned, we had a shorter order. We had a 16-episode order and there were a lot of challenges – where could you go, how many characters could be in a scene, and all that. It was tough to thrive as a season, but I see it as a great testament to our fans who kept showing up every Tuesday night and nearly breaking 10 million every week. To get into this season and have all the major protocols, and have a time and a place … We just didn’t know what was going to become of the show. Being able to run a season, do 16 episodes, and be able to get back on television for fans when 30 percent of our industry was working on what is traditionally filmed. We feel very lucky and I think we adhered to our protocols and were excited to show that we could be at work and be safe. Now in this [upcoming] Season 19, we can finally give fans the season finale they’ve been wanting or needing or wanting to see. We were able to have an actual season finale leading to a season premiere, and it’s an important one. It’s a great, important season finale.

That’s the thrill of what’s to come. The show doesn’t slow down. In any case, it is the same magic but different energy. Different dynamics continue to take us to different places in the program. As long as you keep looking, we’ll keep popping up. This is how I feel about it, and I am grateful that at such a historic time in our industry and in the world, we can, in a very, very, very small part, contribute a little bit of sanity. And if we can stay in the air and we can carry on, that’s all you want as an actor and as an entertainer. I am glad and I am happy.

NCIS airs Tuesdays at 8 pm ET / PT on CBS. For more information, see below.

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