Wilmer Valderrama Reveals the Morbid Way ‘Darker’ Cases on “NCIS” Bond the Cast: ‘We Laugh Our Asses Off’ (Exclusive)

Speaking with PEOPLE exclusively, Valderrama reflects on keeping the “magic” alive for ‘NCIS’ fans as the franchise hits 1000 episodes on April 15

Sonja Flemming/CBS via Getty  Wilmer Valderrama in
Sonja Flemming/CBS via Getty Wilmer Valderrama in ‘NCIS’

As NCIS gears up to hit 1000 episodes across five series, star Wilmer Valderrama is giving his two cents on what it’s meant to be a part of the iconic franchise.

“It’s been such an honor to contribute to a show that knows itself and continues to listen to its fans,” the actor, 44, exclusively tells PEOPLE. “We work hard on making sure the show continues to evolve with the times and never loses its magic.”

On NCIS, Valderrama stars as Agent Nick Torres. The That 70s Show alum made his debut on the crime-fighting procedural in 2016 for its 14th season and has been putting bad guys in handcuffs ever since.

<p>Michael Yarish/CBS</p> (L) Katrina Law and Wilmer Valderrama on 'NCIS'.
Michael Yarish/CBS

(L) Katrina Law and Wilmer Valderrama on ‘NCIS’.

When asked what was most “fun” about part of being a part of such a legacy series, Valderrama shares how exciting it’s been to work with people who “love what they do.”

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“We have a blast on set!” he smiles. “The funny thing is that the darker the case, the funnier the set. We laugh our asses off. And it doesn’t hurt that the world comes along and enjoys it with us.”

NCIS was first launched in 2003 with Mark Harmon’s character, Jethro Gibbs, introduced in a two-episode arc on JAG.

Now, in its 21st season, the procedural had its first spinoff in 2009 with the premiere of its Los Angeles counterpart, and a New Orleans offshoot followed in 2014 before Hawai’i joined the fold in 2021. NCIS: Sydney is the latest spinoff to join the franchise with its season 1 premiere in 2023.

Robert Voets/CBS via Getty (L) Vanessa Lachey and Wilmer Valderrama on 'NCIS: Hawai'i'
Robert Voets/CBS via Getty (L) Vanessa Lachey and Wilmer Valderrama on ‘NCIS: Hawai’i’

Throughout all five series, the franchise will reach its 1000th episode milestone on Monday, April 15th.

Earlier this month, NCIS‘ longest-running cast member, Sean Murray, told PEOPLE that he believes that the franchise has endured because the “quality” and care put into creating the series had created a strong foundation for the NCIS brand to grow.

“A really strong ship was built very early on, and the show developed and founded strengths in a different kind of way than most procedurals,” he said, adding that fans connected with the show and its characters “early on.”

<p>Sonja Flemming/CBS </p> (L-R) Sean Murray, Jesse Boone, Wilmer Valderrama and Katrina Law on 'NCIS'
Sonja Flemming/CBS

(L-R) Sean Murray, Jesse Boone, Wilmer Valderrama and Katrina Law on ‘NCIS’

He continued, “It felt like a family, and I think that that family feeling and the world of NCIS is something that people really liked to be a part of.”

Though Murray couldn’t put an exact finger on the franchise’s “secret sauce” for success, he said that formula has spread out to different series.

“Everyone, respectfully, has had their own sort of slice of the pizza,” he explains of how the franchise has grown. “Everything’s been pretty unique, I think, so it’s really quite cool to see the way things have expanded.”


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