Wilmer Valderrama Remembers the Sweet Words His Father Told Him Before His That '70s Show Audition
“Mijo, if you get it, very good. If you don’t get it, very good," Valderrama recalls his father telling him
For Wilmer Valderrama, Father’s Day means more than a summer Sunday reserved for a round of golf — it’s also a way to honor the man who gave his family a better life.
“As a Latin man and someone that grew up in Venezuela, to see your father make such a sacrifice and sell everything he had just to bring us to the United States and have the education he never had, it’s so admirable,” Valderrama told PEOPLE Monday night.
The That ’70s Show star has teamed up with Johnnie Walker to help sons and daughters give their fathers the perfect gift – a personalized engraved bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue Label, the rarest and most exclusive blend from the portfolio. This Sunday, Valderrama’s inscription on his dad’s bottle holds a particularly special meaning from back when his family had just moved to California from Venezuela.
That week of his That ’70s Show audition had been hard. While struggling to keep up with their rent, Valderrama’s father had his car stolen, so he’d been running errands on foot around town trying to make ends meet. But this particular day, he skipped the errands and decided to take his son to the audition instead.
In the audition hallway, they told Valderrama and his father the money he’d be making if he landed the gig.
“It was my fourth audition for That ’70s Show. I didn’t have the job yet,” Valderrama recalled. “I looked at my dad and I said, ‘Could you imagine? We go from 99 Cents stores to Ralphs. We’ll be going to a real grocery store.’ ”
Right before it was Valderrama’s turn, his dad looked at him and said, “Mijo, if you get it, very good. If you don’t get it, very good.”
Suddenly, all the pressure was off, and later that day, his family received a phone call from his agent at the time. “[The agent] said, ‘Yeah, they want you to come back tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that, and the day after that,’ ” Valderrama remembered.
That day sprung what would be an eight-year, 200-episode run for Valderrama. “Everything changed overnight,” Valderrama recalled.
So, what’s the inscription on his father’s Johnnie Walker Blue Label bottle this Sunday? “Mijo, if you get it, very good. If you don’t get it, very good” — but in Spanish!
Valderrama’s engraved bottle
Back in Venezuela, the Valderramas usually celebrated Father’s Day fishing out on the lake. He recalls one year almost being yanked into the water by a massive, vicious-looking fish.
“It was the ugliest, most angry fish I’ve ever seen. It just completely traumatized me,” Valderrama joked. “It took me about a year to get back out on the lake again.”