Wilmer Valderrama comes home to Miami

Wilmer Valderrama at Miami Herald video studio
Wilmer Valderrama at Miami Herald video studio

Wilmer Valderrama visited Miami Tuesday to get locals pumped for Season 2 of From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series, a few hours before its 9 p.m. premiere on filmmaker Robert Rodriguez’s El Rey Network.

“Expect the unexpected,” he said of the supernatural show based on the 1996 movie of the same name directed by Rodriguez. “It’s a little darker, more twisted, weirder and more explosive.”

Valderrama reprises his role as Carlos, a key player in this horror show about two criminal brothers (DJ Cotrona and Zane Holtz) trying to simultaneously avoid both the cops on their trail and monstrous creatures out for their blood.

The onetime That ’70s Show star credits the realistic-looking vampires, snakes and satanic villains to special effects supervisor Greg Nicotero, who is the genius behind the makeup on AMC’s The Walking Dead.

“I mean, it’s really freaky. Sometimes I come on set and I’m like, whoa,” the Miami native said. “Greg is such a visionary and adds to the whole ground-breaking and rule-breaking nature of this show.”

Look out for a few newcomers on Season 2: First and foremost, frequent Rodriguez collaborator, Danny Trejo.

“I’ve known him forever. He looks mean, but he’s the sweetest man,” said Valderrama of the convict turned popular character actor. “But when he turns it on? Man!”

The 35-year-old goes on to explain one scene in From Dusk Till Dawn when he’s sitting on the floor and sees Trejo’s character, called The Regulator. “I look up and say, ‘Yep, I’m about to get my a-- kicked,’ and Danny goes [imitating his accent in a growling voice]: ‘I don’t negotiate, I regulate!’ It was fun to have that memory.”

Another not-so-surprise cameo is Valderrama’s real-life girlfriend, pop singer Demi Lovato. The two were photographed last weekend celebrating the former Disney star’s 23rd birthday at Knott's Berry Farm theme park in California.

“She’ll do a few episodes toward the end,” he allowed, “but I can’t tell you really anything more about that.”

FDTD isn’t Valderrama’s only major television project. Starting Sept. 21, he’ll costar in Minority Report, based on the 2002 sci-fi thriller with Tom Cruise and directed by Steven Spielberg, who is executive producer this time around.

“Working with Spielberg was a little intimidating, but I really feel like I’m living my dream. I’ve wanted to work with him since I was a little boy,” said Valderrama, who plays a police lieutenant who can see crime before it happens. “He’s ridiculously hands on. He cast every single one of us and works on every detail — from the wardrobe to the amazing technology.”

Speaking of dreams, Valderrama is trying to realize one more.

“I’m putting this out into the universe: I’ve always wanted to play Desi Arnaz,” he said. “He was one of my idols and a big influence for me growing up along with Raul Julia, Anthony Quinn and Antonio Banderas. He really brought pride to the Latino community, and I’d love to pay tribute to him somehow.”

A plus: singing and dancing are in the actor’s wheelhouse.

“After acting kind of took off I kind of went down the rabbit hole,” he says with a laugh. “But I took lessons when I was younger, and I’d like to do that kind of thing again.”

After the interview, Valderrama was headed out to play tourist a bit. When he was 3, his family decamped to Venezuela to work in agriculture. They returned to Miami for a while when he was a teen but eventually all ended up in Los Angeles.

When he steps foot in his hometown, the memories come back.

“I feel like there’s kind of awakening in me here. This has become such a great city and has evolved so much.”