Family & Companions
Actor Wilmer Valderrama first came to national attention as the odd yet lovable foreign exchange student Fez on the long-running sitcom, "That 70's Show" (Fox, 1998-2006). Appearing seemingly out of nowhere alongside future stars Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis, Valderrama's quirky portrayal endeared him to his co-stars and fans alike. Clearly ambitious, the actor soon branched out with supporting turns in such films as "Summer Catch" (2001) and "Party Monster" (2003). An aspiring entrepreneur, he also invested in a pair of tony Los Angeles-based restaurants, Dolce and Geisha House. Handsome and charming, it soon became apparent that his aspirations were not limited merely to acting and business when Valderrama was frequently seen in the company of several of Hollywood's prettiest ingénues, including Lindsay Lohan. Less appealing was his tendency to divulge intimate details about the relationships on such public venues as "The Howard Stern Show." Valderrama's earnest voicing of the helpful "Handy Manny" (Disney Channel, 2006- ) on the popular preschooler cartoon may have been an attempt at image repair. Whether playing the role of actor, businessman or lothario, Valderrama's evolution continued to play out on film television screens, and the occasional tabloid column.
Born Wilmer Antonio Valderrama on Jan. 30, 1980 in Miami, FL to Balvino and Sobeida Valderrama, the handsome Latino moved back to his family's native Venezuela at the age of three. Valderrama's family returned to America 10 years later, when he was 13, this time settling down in Los Angeles. Not knowing a word of English, Valderrama was forced to pick up the language of his new home rather quickly. While attending William Howard Taft High School in Woodland Hills, he began to show an interest in acting. Actively involved in the school's drama and theater department, he performed in a number of plays, including "The Impossible Years," "Never Been Kissed" and "Rumors." Landing professional work while still a teenager, Valderrama made his acting debut in a Spanish Pacific Bell TV commercial. His television debut came with appearances on children's series "Omba Makomba" (Disney Channel, 1997) and the drama "Four Corners" (CBS, 1998), opposite no less than Ann-Margret.
That same year, the young actor landed a role on the nostalgic sitcom "That 70's Show" (Fox, 1998-2006). Portraying Fez, a foreign student trying to fit into 1970's suburban Wisconsin, Valderrama rounded out an ensemble cast consisting of young up-and-comers like Topher Grace, Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher. While working on the instantly popular show, Valderrama graduated from Taft High School in 1999. With the success of "That '70's Show," Valderrama's résumé quickly began to fill out. He made his film debut in the baseball-themed romantic-comedy "Summer Catch" (2001) alongside Freddie Prinze, Jr., followed by his role as DJ Keoki in the club-kid pic "Party Monster" (2003) opposite former-child stars Macaulay Culkin and Seth Green.
Playing the part of entrepreneur in his personal life, Valderrama opened the Hollywood hotspot restaurant Dolce in 2003, followed by Geisha House in 2005 - both of which were the result of a partnership with fellow "70's" co-stars Danny Masterson and Kutcher. Following the media attention that followed his relationship with pop-princess Mandy Moore, Valderrama soon earned a reputation as one of Hollywood's more active young lotharios. At one time linked with both Jennifer Love Hewitt and Ashlee Simpson, it was Valderrama's year-long romance with the newly minted teen star Lindsay Lohan that put him in the brightest spotlight in 2004. To the chagrin of ex-girlfriends like Moore and Lohan, Valderrama later boasted in great detail of his sexual conquests publicly to interviewer Howard Stern in March of 2006, bringing former gal-pals Simpson and Hewitt into the kiss-and-tell discussion as well.
Taking bad-mouthing to an entirely new level that same year, Valderrama created the insult show "Yo Momma" (MTV, 2006-07). As host and executive producer of the series, Valderrama traveled across America seeking the best free-style trash-talkers around. Shifting gears back to theater, Valderrama appeared in the Los Angeles Times critic's choice play "Blackout," in addition to acting alongside Anjelica Huston and Sir Ben Kingsley in the Actors Fund of America all-star reading of the screenplay "Sunset Boulevard" for a one-night performance. Also that year, Valderrama appeared in Richard Linklater's adaptation of "Fast Food Nation" (2006) before playing a well-meaning clerk outfoxed by six rambunctious kids in director Paul Feig's family comedy "Unaccompanied Minors" (2006).
Surprising some, in light of his playboy past, Valderrama also took on a new role - that of the title character in the preschool show, "Handy Manny" (Disney Channel, 2006- ), a tune-filled cartoon for children about a repairman and his talking tools who introduce tots to the concept of teamwork. Valderrama cited his close relationship with his brother, Christian, 20 years his junior, as the primary motivation for taking on the voice role. Valderrama also played against type as El Muerto, a spirit of vengeance resurrected by Aztec gods in the comic book-inspired horror-thriller "The Dead One" (2007). He played a much kid-friendlier superhero as a skateboarding crime fighter in Stan Lee's animated direct-to-DVD effort "The Condor" (2007). Later, he appeared with megastars Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts in the romantic-comedy "Larry Crowne" (2011) and picked up another supporting role in "From Prada to Nada" (2011), a Latino interpretation of the Jane Austin classic novel Sense and Sensibility.
By Bryce Coleman
Cast (Feature Film)
Producer (Feature Film)
Moved to Los Angeles with family
Appeared on The Disney Channel series "Omba Makomba"
Feature film acting debut, "Summer Catch"
With "That '70s Show" co-stars Ashton Kutcher and Danny Masterson, opened hip Los Angeles hot spot Dolce
Hosted the MTV series "Yo Momma," a trash-talking competition where comics competed for bragging rights and a cash prize
Played an airport official in the teen comedy "Unaccompanied Minors"
Voiced the title character on Disney Channel's animated family series "Handy Manny"
Produced the Discovery Science Channel series "Bugging Out"
Cast as Detective Efrem Vega on NBC's "Awake"