WATCH Magazine: December 2022: Wilmer Valderrama


Do you have a Season 4 highlight so far? In the first episode, I go undercover as a biker. You see me riding a Harley Davidson and training in the biker world. Funnily enough, I used to ride bikes as a kid all over Manhattan. I would sneak into Cen- tral Park after hours, and the cops would chase me. It’s fun that we got to use that a little in the show. You’re filming 22 episodes this season for the first time since The Practice . Has it been an adjustment? I’m pacing myself. My Chinese sign is the ox, and the ox works, works, works, works until it’s dead. I’ve been working since I was a kid, shoveling snow, raking leaves, or washing cars. To do this job, you must be a worker. I have that in my DNA, so I’m able to do it. After spending a good decade doing limited runs, what does it mean for you to be back as the No. 1 actor on the call sheet? My first job on television was on The Practice , so I started as No. 1. I’ve done a bunch of things here and there, but I think I was ready to do it again coming off guest roles on Law & Order: SVU and Organized Crime . Whenever I have difficult moments, I think about Chris Meloni and Mariska Hargitay and how they’ve done this for almost 25 years. But to join the Dick Wolf universe is a won- derful way to go to work because they let me be me. What does that concept mean? I can rewrite my lines. I can improvise. I can be myself. Once I have that freedom to create, I can fly and be happy. Whether they use it or not, it doesn’t matter to me. How much input are you giving to the showrunners? I talked to [showrunner and executive producer] David Hudgins and the writers’ room before this season started. This is a manhunt show. It’s always going to be that. But I try to put as much charac- ter into a show as possible. It gives viewers more insight into Remy rather than just watching me chase down the bad guy. People long for more. Why was it important that Remy have such a tor- tured backstory? I think it’s linked to my own life with my own loss

The actor reflects on some of his greatest hits.

HAMBURGER HILL • 1987 McDermott, then 25, was doing Biloxi Blues on Broadway when he decided to answer an open call for a film that centered on the titular battle during the Vietnam War. Not only did he ace the audition, he was cast in a leading role. “I was so floored,” he recalls. “I still am.” He landed on the cover of The Village Voice , he notes, and The New York Times called his performance “a searing debut.” STEEL MAGNOLIAS • 1989 McDermott was thrilled to uproot to Louisiana for this big-budget comedy- drama in which feisty Southern women bond over life and death. “This was a real splashy Hollywood studio movie with lots of money,” he says. That luxury included working alongside bona fide stars such as Sally Field, Olympia Dukakis, Dolly Parton, Sam Shepard, and Shirley MacLaine. “To be around all these seasoned veterans was incredible.” His fellow upstart? Julia Roberts, who played his doomed-but-loving wife. IN THE LINE OF FIRE • 1993 After he narrowly missed out on a role in Jurassic Park , its casting directors put him in this thriller as Clint Eastwood’s new secret service partner. They chase down a would-be presidential assassin (John Malkovich). “[Clint] played this macho hero, so I decided my character would be the opposite—very vulnerable—to complement him,” he says. “I couldn’t believe I was on set with this man who I watched with my dad for so long.”



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