Desi Arnaz was the charming, hilarious, and witty husband to the extravagant Lucy on “I Love Lucy.” Even now, they are still one of the most loved couples on television.
In fact, the original and highly loved sitcom even helped to inspire the show “That 70s Show.”
This was a show that aired from 1998 to 2006. It focused on the lives of six teenage friends growing up in the fictional Point Place, Wisconsin. It included cast members like Topher Grace, Mila Kunis, Ashton Kutcher, Danny Masterson, Laura Prepon, and Wilmer Valderrama.
Which character got part of his inspiration from the great Desi Arnaz?
Wilmer Valderrama on ‘That 70s Show’
Valderrama played Fez on the long-standing sitcom. He remembered how Arnaz was an inspiration to him as he started his role as Fez on the show.
“I Love Lucy” explores the background of Arnaz or Ricky Ricardo. In the show, Ricardo often talks about Cuba and how he had moved from there. During the show, he and Lucy even go to Cuba to visit some of his family.
His accent and his heritage had become an essential and interesting part of the show. His famous line, “Lucy, you got some ‘splainin’ to do” was one of the most popular for showing off his Cuban accent. In fact, sometimes Lucy would repeat words back to him how he would say it in a hilarious husband-wife banter.
For Valderrama, seeing someone with a rich accent be adored on television was a huge inspiration. Arnaz was one of the first and most iconic television stars with an accent.
In an interview with Yahoo! Valderrama said, “When I saw Desi Arnaz on television, with an accent, being as Latino as he really was, I felt like I could do it myself, I felt that I could be me.”
Importance of the Role and ‘I Love Lucy’
Valderrama had moved to the U.S. from Venezuela as a teenager. His experience on the show helped to symbolize what the immigrant experience was like for a lot of people.
“I remember when I got ‘That ’70s Show,’ it was a big deal for my family and a big deal for me. But I really didn’t know what it represented,” Valderrama said.
Fez was a foreign exchange student who showed what it was like to assimilate to a new culture. At the time, he was one of the only Latino characters on Fox. He said that many people came up to him and said “I felt like I existed” when they saw his character on the screen.
Valderrama admitted that watching Arnaz on “I Love Lucy” helped him learn to speak English and keep his accent. His character on “That 70s Show” could help inspire a whole new generation of viewers.
Now Valderrama plays his current role on the main cast of NCIS portraying Special Agent Nick Torres.
H/T: Showbiz CheatSheet