Wilmer Valderrama teases Yoni’s return to SUBURGATORY
When we last saw Wilmer Valderrama’s Yoni on ABC’s SUBURGATORY, he was romancing Dallas and making George insane with jealousy. Aside from romancing Dallas, not much has changed on the Yoni and George front as tonight’s all new episode, “Yakult Leader,” finds Yoni back in Dallas’ life to help her poor depressed dog-walker-missing dog Yakult.
He gets under George’s skin almost immediately, and what follows is easily one of the funniest episodes the show has ever done. To celebrate the return of Yoni, I spent some time chatting with Wilmer Valderrama about playing this character, and what’s next for him (hint: doesn’t sound like he’ll have downtime for years to come).
Watching the episode, I laughed from from start to finish!
Oh thank you, that’s great, I’m happy to hear that!
For people who haven’t seen tonight’s new episode, what brings Yoni back to town?
Yoni was called in by Dallas because Yakult has fallen into some kind of depression after the absence of her walker. As we know, Yoni has always had deep feelings for Dallas, so also returns with a little bit of an ulterior motive, and secret agenda. You’re going to see that fall out – it raises the stakes between George and Yoni. You’re definitely in for a ride. You’re going to see Yoni not only embrace his own spirit, but really play on what he does really well, and that is his spiritual advisement.
Playing a character like this guy – is it hard to keep a straight face, and keep taking yourself seriously as you’re saying and doing some of the things that he does.
[deadpan] 100% percent. [laughs] It’s one of the toughest things! The only way that this is funny is if this is real to him. Tonally, when you come to a show like SUBURGATORY, and the story is grounded based on a number of characters that are organic and relatable, and they’re complemented by other characters that kind of break the mold of the dynamic of the organic story and enhance the comedy. You have to pick one side [of a fence] and you have to be very consistent so the other can complement the other. It’s a little tricky, you know? To the core, he has to be real to himself, for the stakes to be high, for George, and most importantly for the story to carry on. I think the challenge was that he was so real to me, we were breaking character with all of the characters, with Jeremy and Cheryl, everyone else in the cast, I have to tell you – we had a tough time keeping a straight face [laughs] in every scene. I mean, I was improvising, they were improvising, we were coming up with things off the cuff. Emily Kapnek is throwing me lines – it was a riot. We had a blast and I’m really excited for fans to check it out because I miss doing comedy so much and this is the tone of comedy that I love.
Being a part of a show like this, and your spots on RAISING HOPE, does it make you want to get back and do a weekly comedy where you can grow a character over seasons?
I’ll be completely honest with you – once I finished THAT 70S SHOW, I wasn’t considering coming back to television for a long time, and it wasn’t until I did LARRY CROWNE, with Tom Hanks, that I did a little bit of comedy on that, and then I realized how much I really miss the tone and the dynamic and the energy of comedy. So my friend Emily Kapnek called me, and my friend Greg Garcia from RAISING HOPE, gave me a call and said “hey we have these characters, come and play with us” and they were really beautiful calls, so I said, I miss it so much, let me play and see what it feels like, and I had so much fun! So definitely. It’s back in my head again. I’m not sure if you were aware, but I signed a deal with 20th Century Fox Television to be developing a return to television with my own show, so I’m excited. I really miss being in people’s homes and I really miss making people laugh. I’m not sure if I’m going to do drama with a little bit of comedy, or a straight up comedy, but I will tell you this – I had a blast doing comedy, and I definitely miss the consistency of just having fun at work with a consistent cast.
What else besides the development deal do we have to look forward to from you?
This year, I did a Spike Lee movie that comes out this year. It’s called THE GIRL IS IN TROUBLE. I did it with Alicja Bachleda, Jesse Spencer, and my boy Columbus Short. As well as producing a number of products. One for Disney, a couple of reality shows I’m producing as well, some game show stuff. And I’m developing a new animated series for the Disney Channel. As you know, I’m HANDY MANNY on the Disney Channel, so I’m’ excited to do another animated series with them. I’m in conversations with something else, too, with Fox TV, we’ll see what happens. I’m also working on music, I’m doing some bi-lingual Spanish music, because I love dancing, so I’m going to have a little bit of fun with that stuff. I have a lot of things in the works. On a personal agenda, I’m working a lot with my organizations on immigration reform, now that it’s all starting. We’re going to be very present, trying to really change and define the conversation of immigration as well. I have my hands in a little bit of everything because I love working a lot, I love multi-tasking. My priority would probably be to come back to TV this year and have fun again. I really miss constantly performing. We have a couple things going on, so as they come into fruition, I’m sure that I’ll be talking to you again.
And we look forward to it! Check out an all new SUBURGATORY on ABC tonight at 9:30/8:30c and for more SUBURGATORY info, head over to ABC’s site. You can also catch up on Wilmer’s most recent appearance on RAISING HOPE, which aired last night, On Demand soon, and on Hulu Plus!