In case you haven't noticed, Wilmer Valderrama isn't the party boy he used to be. In fact, this year alone there have been approximately zero sightings of the That '70s Show alum clubhopping, and countless of him visiting soldiers in Iraq, mobilizing youth for Voto Latino, serving food on Thanksgiving...the list goes on. We had to know why--so we met up with Wilmer at his most recent appearance in NYC, where the 28-year-old actor was reading to children of active duty soldiers in the voice of his character on Disney's bilingual kids pogram, Handy Manny.
"That was a phase that came and went," Wilmer tells Latina.com. "I started my career when I was 18, and Ashton and Danny [Kutcher and Masterson, his 70s Show co-stars] and me were going through everything for the first time together. We had a great time...you have to get things out of your system and be young. Now there are bigger things I want to accomplish."
For Wilmer, that big picture includes continuing to visit and support the troops with USO: "I've been to nine countries and gotten to know a lot of the soldiers...What's crazy is that they all look like me. All of them are young cats who are driven and want to defend their country." But even more importantly, it means being a role model to his 8-year-old younger brother, Christian Antonio.
"When I started doing Handy Manny, he was about five," says Wilmer. "It was really important to me that he found the Spanish language super cool and would want to learn it. And he does...he's very smart." No doubt the encouragement of Christian's famous big brother helped. "He did a little project in school and told the teacher he wanted to be like me when he grows up. That was a big deal for me!"
Though Wilmer has been keeping busy with volunteer work and preparing for his upcoming role as in CHiPS ("I'm so excited--I feel like that role was made for me," he gushes), the actor said he's looking forward to taking a break in a week to celebrate the holidays with his family, Venezuelan and Colombian style. "We eat a lot of hallacas, a lot of pan de jamón...that's how it is for us. I've been traveling a lot, and now it's time for me to stay home with my mom."