NCIS returns with a brand new episode tonight at 8:00 PM ET/PT featuring the iconic Christopher Lloyd. In tonight’s episode titled “The Arizona” a man seeks to prove he deserves to be laid to rest one day on the USS Arizona alongside his brothers and sisters as a veteran of Pearl Harbor.

CBS Local’s Matt Weiss spoke with NCIS‘ Wilmer Valderrama about tonight’s episode, his time on the show and working with Lloyd.

MW: Good morning Wilmer, hope all’s well by you!

WV: All’s good, brother same to you.

MW: Happy to hear it, so I’m excited for tonight’s new episode of NCIS  but before we get into tonight, you’ve been on the show for a number of years now but you joined the program at a point where they had already been on the air for 10-plus years. What was it like for you to join such an established show? 

WV: It was fun.  It was fun to join a show that knew itself very well, that understood what was special about itself, which is the characters. The recipe of the show is it cares about really good characters and you really understand them to be human, they make mistakes, they win and lose. To me that’s what’s really special and I had a lot of fun developing my character over the last four years.

The truth is if you do your work, you come prepared, you come to play, you want to be there, it’s quite an exciting time. It’s a lot of fun to be with a group of individuals along with an amazing crew that loves what they do. To me that was the most important thing, to be able to go to a place where people love what they’re doing. 

MW: And you did more than just join the show you’ve become a major part of everything playing Nick Torres. What have you learned about the character over years? 

WV: To be disruptive. To be a character that comes to a show that knows itself and its tone too well for too long, I think your only contribution is to disrupt the peace a little bit. I think that’s the most unique part about joining the show is to develop a character that could really change things up for the rest of the characters. I think that’s what Torres was meant to do was to really expand the universe of NCIS to a whole different spectrum and to create a tonal difference from what was there before to what it is there now.

So that to me was my contribution to the show to create a character that I think people wanted to tune in for. Someone who would light it on fire a little bit. Who would break the door open before he knocks on it, someone who was able to talk back at Gibbs when nobody else does. It was refreshing to play a character that would have the ability to do that. 

MW: What about tonight’s all-new episode, what can you tell us about you have in store for viewers this week? 

WV: I’m stoked about it. This will be an episode that will lead into our hiatus, it’s an emotional episode. We’ll have Christopher Lloyd as our lead guest star and like a little kid I’m freaking out. I’ve seen all of his characters from Addams Family to Back To The Future to see him as this character that was so raw so real. You’re going to see him preform like you’ve never seen him before. He has a little bit of humor but he’s two-thirds heart. It’s a very heartfelt story about his character wanting to be put to rest alongside his brothers and sisters inside the USS Arizona.

I don’t know how many people know, if you’re a veteran and you served on one of the ships that retired, you have the ability to join your brothers and sisters in the mass of the ship. So that’s all he wants, he wants to be recognized and laid to rest next his comrades. That’s what the episode is, to make sure he makes it there. 

MW: Awesome. You know a lot of people are in need of a distraction right now and what better way than having yourself and Doc on the same episode. That’s a pretty cool thing. 

WV: Yeah, it’s definitely fun [laughs]. I have some really cool scenes with him too. You’ll see, it’s a really fun episode and its really heart felt. I think at this time, what we need the most is some inspiration or may be a laugh or two. Tonight will just play on the strings of your heart. This is the episode that reminds us we need to continue celebrating our sullen heroes and look around at the people who are stepping up for you and that’s what this show is about. 

MW: Much needed. Thanks so much for the time today Wilmer and all the best, stay safe out there!

WV: Thanks, you too man, I appreciate it! 

Tune into NCIS to watch “The Arizona” tonight at 8:00 PM ET/PT, only on CBS and streaming on CBS All Access. Check your local listings for more information.

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