At Fan Expo Canada 2012, I had the opportunity to sitdown with Matthew Gray Gubler and A.J. Cook who play Dr. Spencer Reid and Jennifer ‘J.J.’ Jareau respectively on the hit CTV/CBS series Criminal Minds, currently heading into its eighth season with a season premiere scheduled for Tuesday September 25 at 10 p.m. on CTV (pre-CBS).
I talked to the pair about Paget Brewster leaving the show and what that would mean for the team dynamic. I asked them if the writers are ex-cons considering their penchant for constantly upping the gruesomeness depicted on the show. We also chatted about what each would like to see for their characters in the new season. Check it out!
Murtz Jaffer: So Paget (Brewster) is leaving… is that how you say her name? The pronunciation online says that it is supposed to be like gadget, but with a P.
Matthew Gray Gubler: Paget. Yeah, gadget with a P. That’s a good way to put it!
A.J. Cook: Yeah!
MGG: Or Paggot with a “je” in the middle.
MJ: Obviously she’s not coming back, how do you think the show is going to move forward without her? I guess you’re used to it.
MGG: Yeah… it’s a bummer.
AC: Total bummer.
MGG: Jeanne Tripplehorn’s great, but no one could ever replace Prentiss. There will be a new character (Alex Blake) who will hopefully be interesting in a different way.
AC: Yeah, she’s completely different.
MGG: Paget was a unique person in that she kind of made everyone… she was the common denominator with every person. I liken her to a great host. She made every scene fun to be in. Would make the crew have more fun. Sort of like a chameleon.
Matthew Gray Gubler as Dr. Spencer Reid
MJ: Would you say that she is the Ryan Seacrest of Criminal Minds?
MGG: She’s the Ryan Seacrest of Ryan Seacrests! Yeah, that’s a good way to put it! It’s a good quote.
MGG: She will be missed. She’s the Conan O’Brien of Criminal Minds.
MJ: Are we ever going to see Reid hook up? I feel like everyone else is married up.
AC: Funny you should ask…
MGG: Yeah, there’s actually an interesting storyline coming up. A uniquely done romantic interest. A mysterious woman. I think if we get it done in the way we want it to get done, it will be unlike anything that’s been on TV ever.
AC: (Smiling). It’s pretty good.
MJ: Is she good-looking? This love interest?
MGG: If the creative side of the show gets their way and if I get my way, it will be unlike anything seen or not seen. If it goes another way, it will be sort of a more conventional way. So we will see. Reid may never know how good-looking she is… if she even has a face. It’s something kind of special.
A.J. Cook as Jennifer Jareau
MJ: And on your end, you’re now more in the field, more involved with the action. Do you prefer that rather than just setting up press conferences?
AC: Oh absolutely. The whole thing about me leaving and coming back, that was so much drama but I wouldn’t change it for anything because I feel like it got J.J. where I always wanted J.J. It’s been great. I love having her out in the field and with the guys.
MGG: It’s great having her in the field.
AC: It’s fun! It’s a lot of fun! I enjoy action and being physical and it’s fun to infuse that in J.J. a little more and it’s great. I am having a great time! I never get bored and it’s always something new. Her being a profiler is new and exciting. I get to do things on the show that I have never done before.
MJ: How important is it to retain the same cast on a show like yours? I feel like the material just gets more and more gruesome and yet people still keep coming back for more. When I talk to somebody about Criminal Minds, I usually get two responses. The first is ‘I don’t know where they come up with that stuff’ and the second is ‘but I still love the BAU (Behavioral Analysis Unit).’ How important is it to keep the same people?
MGG: It’s very important. We have wonderful writers and as interesting as procedure is, I think character is always the overwhelming hook that keeps people around. Maybe they tune in to see the murders but stay for the family dynamic. So we’re lucky. It’s an honor. To have been on the air for eight years, you become part of the same class as The Cosby Show and Cheers.
MJ: Except yours is about serial killers…
AC: Yeah, there’s that.
MGG: Less comedy. It’s wonderful to have the same cast for that amount of time.
AC: It’s like we have won the lottery. I can’t believe we into the eighth season.
MJ: Are the writers all murderers?
MGG: Most of them are. A lot of them have done time. Not for murder necessarily, but other heinous crimes (kidding).
AC: It’s dark for sure. There is dark stuff for sure. For some reason, our society has a fascination for that sort of thing. But hey, they seem to enjoy it but yeah, it can get a little dicey at times.
MJ: Well, the operative question is where do they come up with the ideas? Just when I think I have seen every old woman throw a child into an incinerator…
MGG: I did that one! I directed that one! It was a good one!
MJ: …They just up it one more time. In that regard, are they just going to up it in Season 8 to a level that we haven’t seen before?
ACC: Let’s just say Episode 5 starts off with a bang.
MGG: They are nowhere near to running out of ideas.
AC: Nowhere near.
MJ: If you could pick one thing for your characters to do in the new season, what would it be? Your dream scenarios for Reid and J.J.?
MGG: I’d like to see him do something with the paranormal. Maybe ghost-hunting or something like that…
MJ: You just have Comic Con on the brain!
MGG: I love ghosts. Cryptozoology. If Reid was hunting the Loch Ness Monster, I would like that. More fantasy monsters, less real life monsters.
MJ: And for J.J.?
AC: I think it would be fun to see J.J. go into an undercover situation of some sort.
MJ: What about another kid?
AC: Not this season! Nope!
MJ: And my final question is this. A few years ago, Shemar Moore was here for the CTV Upfront (actually, he was here this year as well) to help promote Criminal Minds. At the time, I said that I wasn’t sure about the show and I didn’t think that there was room for another procedural. Then I started watching the reruns and those marathons on A&E and it became this addictive habit. Do you feel like you’re still appealing to that new audience who is trying to catch up?
MGG: That’s the interesting thing. I’ll meet people that are like, ‘I just found out about your show last week and over the last seven days, I have watched every episode.’ It’s nice. Then to meet the ones that are like ‘I have been watching it since I was six and now I am 17’…
AC: That makes me feel really old!
MGG: Seeing it in their formative years!
AC: I grew up watching you!
MJ: It’s like the killer Cosby Show all over again!
MJ: That’s great. Thank you so much
MGG & AC: Thank you!
The season premiere of Criminal Minds airs Tuesday, September 25 at 10 p.m. on CTV.
Tags: Criminal Minds, murtz