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No one is trying to fool anyone in this article here; I know that there's no real way for NCIS to fully replace Michael Weatherly's Tony DiNozzo, as the character bored his way into viewers' hearts for so many years before he decided to leave at the end of Season 13. But it's not like the hit CBS drama can just let his absence go without addressing it in full, and one big step was made today as TV mainstay Wilmer Valderrama was cast as a series regular for Season 14.
When we catch up with Wilmer Valderrama this fall, he'll be playing a man broken by the job he dedicated his life to. The as-yet unnamed field agent had been absent for years, having gone deep undercover for an assignment without ever contacting anyone. Though many within the NCIS are under the assumption that he'd either died or completely went off the grid, he returns "home," and it's immediately obvious that he had lost some of the job loyalty and calmness he once had, now coming off completely unpredictable and erratic, though not without his charms. Obviously, because Valderrama's face can't go without looking at least 50% charming.
Executive producer Gary Glasberg says that fans are going to get a Wilmer Valderrama that we've never seen before, so that should be interesting. The actor's career may have exploded thanks to his performance as the simplistic immigrant Fez on That 70s Show, but he's just as quick to take dramatic parts as he is comedic ones. In fact, his last three major TV roles were as a regular on El Rey's From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series, a regular on the short-lived Fox continuation Minority Report and as a guest star on multiple episodes of the most recent season of Grey's Anatomy. He was cast in the CBS drama pilot Four Stars earlier this year, but nothing ever became of that. Doesn't matter now, I guess, since he's on one of the network's most-watched series.
And while Michael Weatherly was one of the reasons people were watching, he definitely wasn't the only one. There are still a bunch of other excellent cast members bringing justice to countries all over the world. There was a previous attempt made to replace Weatherly through the addition of Duane Henry as MI-6 officer Clayton Reeves and the casting of Sarah Clarke as counter-terrorist expert Tess. Both characters appeared at the end of Season 13, but it's unclear just how much they'll be used when the fall rolls around.