Interview: Wilmer Valderrama and Steve Harris Discuss Their Roles in 'Awake'
Interview: Wilmer Valderrama and Steve Harris Discuss Their Roles in 'Awake'
Christi Kassity
Christi Kassity
Contributing Writer, BuddyTV
I've been publishing articles all week talking about NBC's new drama Awake. I've been telling you all to watch and to give it a good chance and I mean it. Set your DVRs now so you're sure not to miss the Thursday, March 1 premiere. After all, this show had the power to bring Wilmer Valderrama back to your television. Yeah, it's that good.

I sat down with Wilmer and his co-star Steve Harris on the set of Awake to discuss the show.
On the show both Valderrama and Harris play partners to Isaacs' Michael Britten. They both appear in both realities, but have very different roles in Britten's life. As you're watching the show you may notice different color schemes in the realities. It is a way for Britten to keep track of which reality he is in. He wears a red band around his wrist in the reality in which he still has his wife, and a green one when he is with his son. The colors carry across the entire reality. The dishes in Britten's kitchen change from red to green, as well as other elements in his house.

Their Reality Roles

With the color changes and reality changes comes a change in partners at work. In the "green" reality Steve Harris' character, Detective Isaiah 'Bird' Freeman, is Britten's long-time partner, and in the "red" reality he is still a Detective and still Britten's friend, but he has been replaced as Britten's partner by Valderrama's character. "I'm still his best friend and I am still his confidant. I am very leery of him and his situation and why they pushed me out. At the same time we let it ride because this is what happens with the bureaucracy of the police force," says Harris, of his characters position of the change-up.

"One of the main purposes of me being [Britten's] partner is to report his behavior but later find myself walking this fine line where how much am I being part of this assignment but at the same time being his true, loyal partner while we are out in the field... or am i part of a bigger picture? Is there something else that spawned from this accident that he is a key player in the journey of it all," said Valderrama about his character, Efrem Vega.

Viewers Will Want to Talk About it

Harris encourages people to think about the show, and talk about it with friends, family, and co-workers. "We want you to be apart of it. We want you to talk about it the next day. We want you to TiVo it and want to watch it again." It's the kind of show that should be stirring the pot in your head and encourages people to theorize and think outside of the box because the show isn't simple. Harris goes on to say: "There is a bigger picture surrounding the accident you see in the pilot episode. It's like an onion, as you peel it back you're going to see more layers to it, you're going to see whats going on: things that have happened, things that maybe not be quite how they seem. I think that with Kyle [Killen, executive producer] and Howard [Gordon, executive producer] are cognizant of making that dual world as real for you as possible so that you don't get tipped off as to 'Oh okay, I know this world is this and that world is that' which will take you to another place. They are very good at riding that fine line." I have to say from what I have seen I completely agree.

See what Killen and Gordon's are saying about developing Awake

Why Wilmer Valderrama's Returning to TV

Like Isaacs, Valderrama nearly passed on the show, but when the script landed on his desk it intrigued him enough to find out who was involved, and he could not be happier to be apart of it today. "It's been inspiring... empowering," says Valderrama of working with the cast, adding "I have to say, I wasn't planning on coming back to TV anytime soon. I put such an 8 year, 200 episode, 25-episode-per-season chapter behind me and I was excited to do my movies. I've also been producing and creating and that has been really fulfilling but the opportunity came across my desk. I read this thing three times and I asked 'Who is doing this?' and they said 'Howard Gordon and Kyle Killen' and I asked who it was starring and they told me Jason Isaacs." Upon finding out the rest of the cast Valderrama declared "I have to be a part of it. I feel very fortunate and very excited to be in a show that is so unique and so different and so fun and original. Something that television hasn't necessarily seen." A bonus for Valderrama? "Now I can say 'I'm not a cop but I play one on TV," he says with a laugh.

Find out why Isaacs nearly passed on Awake

Valderrama isn't the only That '70's Show alum who found their way back to the small screen. When asked about his former co-stars he had nothing but love for them. "I'm very proud of what the cast of That '70's Show has done. We were against all odds for a television cast. We felt it was a really interesting chapter in Hollywood where we could do anything we wanted to do. I felt like we were put in this fortunate seat where we could say 'I wanna produce!' and we'd produce or 'I wanna direct!' and we'd direct. We were very blessed. Naturally, as workaholics, we found our way home somehow." He continued, " I'm really proud of Laura Prepon who has a show on NBC, I'm really proud Danny [Masterson] who has something else in development, and Ashton [Kutcher]. We've been best friends and family for over a decade. We are just very proud of each other."

Acknowledging that most people will recognize him from That '70's Show, I asked Wilmer if we would see any of that perfect comedic timing on Awake, and how he feels switching to such a dramatic role. "I love playing drama. We've had some really dramatic, amazing, intense, action stuff that I've done with Jason [Isaacs] in this show. You know, my blood boils when there is that instinct where I can ham it up a little, I definitely go for it, trust me," but quickly clarifies, "There is no comedic relief. I will make that statement. There is no comedic relief. There is no sidekick on this show, but trust me when I tell you that you're going to laugh sometimes."

It was a really great experience talking to Steve Harris and Wilmer Valderrama about the show. They both exude so much passion, and it comes across in their work. Want to see the show that brought Wilmer Valderrama back to television? Catch Awake when it premieres Thursday, March 1 at 10pm on NBC. You can also catch a free  full preview of the pilot here. I suggest you watch both. It's one to watch more than once. Did you already watch it? What did you think? Sound off in the comments! I want to hear your thoughts. 

(Image courtesy of NBC)

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