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Wilmer Valderrama has given some thought to how he envisions his character, Special Agent Nick Torres, leaving NCIS when the time comes. “Like Denzel Washington in Training Day — just go out,” the actor said, referring to the 2001 movie where Washington’s character dies in a gunfight.

“I think not being the bad guy [like Washington’s character was], of course I’d like to die as a good guy,” Valderrama explained. “But defending my family somehow, just in a storm of bullets. I just see a storm of bullets just washing over me, dying heroically with violins in the background and the rain pouring.”

Reflecting on NCIS’ 1,000th episode, Valderrama shared his thoughts on the show’s enduring success. “I mean, it’s crazy to be at the tail end of [1,000 episodes], not the tail end, the last half of that, right,” Valderrama told CBS News. “You gotta pay tribute to the original cast that started this thing, you know, all the way from Mark Harmon, starting in JAG.”

“JAG had two episodes at the end of JAG; those last two episodes served as kind of like a semi-pilot for NCIS,” he explained. “Then, you know, they come full circle. Mark Harmon leads this beautiful ship and creates something very different on television, an acronym where people are like, ‘What is NCIS?’ And now it’s undeniably one of the most recognizable letters you could see. And, you know, a thousand episodes later and it’s not slowing down. It’s still the number one show.”

Valderrama also emphasized the importance of honoring real-life NCIS agents. The show’s motto, “serving those who protect and protecting those who serve,” resonates deeply with him, as he recognizes that those who embody this motto in real life deserve much more credit than he does.

While Valderrama has no plans to leave NCIS anytime soon — he’s set to return for the show’s 22nd season — he has several exciting projects in the works. His latest venture is a Zorro adaptation for Disney, in which Valderrama will star and serve as executive producer.

“Growing up, Zorro was the one character that made me, as a Latino, feel like I could be a hero,” he said in a statement. “As an adult and a storyteller, I have a responsibility for the stories that I help bring to life. To partner with [Disney President and Chief Creative Officer Gary Marsh] and Disney to bring Zorro back into the family after 60 years and be a part of the legacy for other children to know they too can be the heroes of their own stories is a dream come true.”

Valderrama has also written his first book, a memoir titled An American Story: Everyone’s Invited, which will be published on September 17.

“As a little boy growing up in Venezuela, I never thought I would write a book, let alone be able to fill it with such complex and triumphant stories about a 25-year career in entertainment, philanthropy, and everything in between,” Valderrama said about the book.

He continued, “This is my thank you to my younger self for seeing beyond the expected. Thank you to my family and every person who has been a part of this whirlwind journey. This is my tribute to the country that gave me a shot. This is for all of us.”

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