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Wilmer: Today's Lorenzo Lamas or Tomorrow's Latka Gravas?

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by Alarcon, for outsideleft.com
originally published: March, 2005
Soccer was fine until America got a hold of it.

Wilmer has only been in this county for about nine years, but he already has a cooler job than most of you: He gets to star in a highly-rated network sitcom, Fez (his character's catchphrase) is the word "whore," and he gets to date teen actresses with fake breasts. Not bad for a kid who didn't finish high school and still lives at home.

By the way, for maximum reading enjoyment, insert Fez's voice when you read Wilmer's answers because even though he says that his real voice in no way sounds like his characters—it really does. Just be glad you didn't have to transcribe this interview.)

Good morning, Wilmer. How are you?

Everything's great, man. We're off this week, so I get to sleep in for a change.

Is the schedule really that bad?

No, it's not. But it does take a little energy to [yawns] be on all the time, and you know they're paying you to be funny.

So give me your stats. How long have you been in America and what country did you come from?

I've only been in the United States nine years. I came here when I became a teenage [yawns again]. Sorry. I came here from Venezuela. I was born in Miami but raised in Venezuela, so I didn't know how to speak English when I came over here.

How'd you learn?

I took a couple of drama classes to improve my speaking skills and become a little more outgoing.

So that's how this all started. What was your first paying acting gig?

It was a Pacific Bell commercial in Spanish. With the money I got from that, I paid my dues and I became SAG.

You became a sag?

No, SAG [Screen Actors Guild]. A SAG member so I could get union jobs. That's how I got to try out for my first TV pilot called Teenage Wasteland. I auditioned for it four times and I got it, and the name changed to That '70s Show.

So now that you bring it up, how is it working with your cast? Do you all get along? Any rivalries?

Oh, no—everything is great. We're all new to the business so we're all we have. We don't have much to complain about.

Do you get a lot of fan mail from Fez groupies?

I mean, thank goodness, yes. My character has been recognized, and he seems to have a bit of an impact on the audience. I do get quite a lot of mail.

Yeah, everybody here at the office loves your character. You should get your own spin-off show.

Ah, that's very nice. Thank you, man. Tell everyone in your office I said thank you. You know, I really work my ass off on this show and it's paying off. Fans are really liking the show. I'm glad that people like Fez because he's such an unpredictable little fucker. He even gets away with saying the word "whore" on national television. Now there's even Web sites out there called "Fez's Groovy Whores." It's incredible. I'm deeply flattered. There is also a Web site dedicated to Fezisms: It's all about things that Fez would say. It's a whole Fez empire.

Are you happy with the role of Fez as being the innocent man-child?

Man-child?

Umm, like the innocent guy who never fully understands his surroundings.

Oh, I'm in love with Fez because it's such a wonderful character to start my career with. On top of that, it's something really unique and [the character type] is not on TV right now.

Fez is a lot like Latka Gravas from Taxi, though - don't you think?

Yeah, in a lot of ways Fez is similar to Latka, but the characters are really different.

Like they're both fish out of water.

Yeah, like that. Wait, what's that?

Fish out of water. It's an expression. Never mind.

Well, my character is a mystery to the show. No one knows where he comes from. He's a foreign exchange student, and Fez isn't even his real name - it's just a word that is short for foreign exchange student.

Then wouldn't that be f-e-S?

No, it's f-e-Z.

Right, but.OK. So is there anytime that we might find out who the real Fez is? His background? His real name? His sexual orientation?

Yes. Little by little they've been giving out little clues to where I am from. When I created the character, I put a bunch of accents together so nobody would be able to assume where he was from, you know?

I see. So what is it like to be a young, 20-year-old single Hollywood actor in the spotlight from another country?

It's really incredible because this is kind of like the American dream, you know? I've only been here nine years. I barely just learn how to express myself in your very, very complicated language. And on top of that, this country has nothing in common with my own country, so I have all these personal conflicts every day. Plus I'm always so overcome by all the opportunities here.

So do you think of yourself as being the new Lorenzo Lamas or even the new Erik Estrada of the new millennium?

[laughs] Ah, no, I'm not. I' m really not one of those guys.

Well, you've seem to have dated every famous and semi-famous teenage celebrity within the past couple years. You could be part of the new breed of heartthrobs.

[laughs nervously again] It's weird. I don't consider myself a heartthrob, I'm just happy to have a job.

So you live with your parents, right? Does it cramp your style?

No way. I love my parents. I grew up in Venezuela and there, the culture is really different. There you stay true to your family. Kids don't divorce their parents and move out at 16. They claim they need their space, which is such bull. In my country, you don't move out until you're at least 25. The son always makes sure the family's OK before he leaves.

What do you miss from Venezuela the most?

There are a lot of things, like the way the year takes forever. Here, It seems like Christmas is once every month - it's really freaky. In my county, everything takes a long time. Life is so fast here as opposed to my country where you get to really live your years. Here, if you don't pay attention, you can be 35 without a job. [Ugh, Fez nailed it on the head. - ed.]

What do you like about America?

I think the [opportunities] here are incredible. Here you can have literally any career you want, as opposed to Venezuela where you are usually born into what you do for a living. The doors here are open for everyone.

Will Wilber ever settle on one lady? A girlfriend? What do you do for kicks?

[laughs] No, I don't have a girlfriend. The first thing I do is sleep a lot. But usually I just go to movies and go out to dinner with a couple of people. I stay home with my family on Monday nights and watch my show since it is my favorite show. Also, I'm a big soccer player so I play soccer a lot.

Soccer is getting bigger here.

It's about time, you know? It's only the biggest sport in the world except here. That's the other unbelievable thing about America. You guys have ignored soccer for years and years and did your own thing. Then you guys start playing soccer more and all of a sudden, you want to create your own rules. I mean, the game was fine until America got a hold of it. That's how America is with everything. It's ridiculous.

What do you think of Venezuelan and Spanish food here?

Well, they Americanize it to make it easier to eat. It's interesting because the first place I tasted Mexican food, like tortillas and burritos, was here—because Venezuela and Mexico are two completely different places - and I thought it tasted very plain.

What do you think of Taco Bell?

Well, I don't know. They've created many inventions. The Gordita. I mean, c'mon, what the hell is that?

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Alarcon

Alarcon co-founded outsideleft with lamontpaul in 2004. His work for o/l has attracted the attention of hundreds of thousands of readers, oh and probably the fbi too.

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