"I don't print out anymore. It saves a lot of trees and money on paper. I get scripts by e-mail and read them on my iPad," says Wilmer Valderrama, who guests this week (Feb. 22) on ABC's "Suburgatory" as Dallas' (Cheryl Hines) younger boyfriend and appears on the Feb. 29 episode of NBC's "Are You There, Chelsea?" with his "That '70s Show" co-star Laura Prepon in advance of his new regular, dual role on NBC's new drama "Awake," premiering March 1. The show stars Jason Isaacs as a detective who, after a family car accident, finds himself living alternate lives, one in which his wife died, another in which his son did. Valderrama plays his partner, Det. Vega, in the latter and an LAPD officer in the former.

 

"Not for the audience, but for me, it's a little complicated," says Valderrama about keeping the roles straight. "I just try to focus and play what's in front of me," he says, adding that he prefers playing the partner "because he's more of a mature character and is dealing with some real, complex situations." The action scenes are fun, too, he says, and he's enjoying the departure from the comedic roles he's known for. "It's a different journey, a new topic. I'm not trying to recreate the comedy legacy I had."

 

Valderrama, who was seen earlier this season in two episodes of USA's "Royal Pains," has a couple of films coming up. He plays a gangster in Spike Lee's summer release "The Girl is in Trouble" with Columbus Short, and will star in Alfonso Arau's "Latin Quarter," about Pablo Picasso. "It's about his early journey and how he became the artist that he was."

 

Busier than ever with projects like these and a toy company he plans to launch, "I've been really blessed," Valderrama reflects. "I've been given the opportunity to do just what I want to do, I've worked so hard the last couple of years and I'm performing on a level that people haven't seen yet. I'm excited to come back to prime time with something that people haven't seen me do."


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Tune In: Premiering Feb. 22, PBS "Nature's" three-part series "Ocean Giants" takes a close-up look at whales and dolphins, examining their biology, survival tactics, reproductive habits and social interaction in documentaries shot by renowned underwater cameramen Doug Allen and Didier Noirot.

 

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