Suburgatory fans will certainly remember the brief but hilarious appearance by Wilmer Valderrama in Season 1. Tonight he returns to the suburban sitcom as Yoni, Dallas Royce’s spiritual guru. In this latest guest appearance the former That ‘70s Show star talked about grounding a wacky character and working with dogs.
Wilmer described Yoni, who peeked viewers’ curiosity in 2012, “I developed this character that’s this very mystical creature, this mysterious man to bring light and spiritual life into the people he touches. And it’s just a riot. It’s ridiculous. It’s just an excuse to be out there and be funny.”
The 32-year-old actor talked a bit about the storyline that’s set to unfold, “Yoni gets called in for a very tough job. [Dallas’ Chipoo] Yakult is going thorough a very depressing time and they want me to spiritually bring him back.”
Wilmer confessed that he enjoyed working with his four-legged co-star. “He’s probably more professional that half of the actors I’ve worked with in my life but really, really fun.”
But Yoni isn’t all about peace, harmony and dog whispering. Wilmer teased the latest installment, saying, “Through this episode we find out that Yoni has a little bit of a secret agenda, an ulterior motive. As well as you will see the rivalry and the animosity play out between [Dallas’] boyfriend George and Yoni as well.”
As is often the case on Suburgatory, even though Yoni is an out-there guy, the humor on the show is grounded in reality. Wilmer explained how an actor approaches this tricky blend, “When you create a character that seems so far out there, but somehow you belief they’re real, it’s because dynamically they believe the threat is not just real but to the core, to the DNA. You cannot dispute that this person exists. So you have to find a way to make this relatable but they are real.”
He pointed to the fine line that a performer must walk in such a situation, “A lot of times what happens is you fall into a trap of playing something very campy and therefore you break the tone and that necessarily feels organic to the actual storyline. But if you just concentrate a little bit on making the stakes real and having the character really believe his theory then you effortlessly fit in to the tone of the show.”
Of course having just the write wardrobe doesn’t hurt. Wilmer discussed the way that Yoni’s outfits help him craft his onscreen persona, “The thing about him is that everything that touches Yoni is supposed to be real to him. So as ridiculous as it may seem to the naked eye, within him this is truly his spiritual aura. So every outfit is carefully crafted to say some kind of statement. And that’s what we had a lot of fun with, with the character is the consistency of it is bizarre.”
But his fashion statements also had an impact on production. Wilmer recounted that his co-star Cheryl Hines “kept saying, ‘Oh my God, can someone send me a Polaroid of this. I need to see a picture before we actually hit the set and start shooting.’ Because I would walk onto the set and the whole set would stop and I would take pictures with everyone because my outfits were so crazy.’ And she had to get it out of her system before they actually said action because it was so ridiculous. But we had fun. I had a blast with her.”
See Wilmer Valderrama in all of his mystical glory on Suburgatory tonight at 9:30 p.m. PST/8:30 p.m. Central on ABC.