Criminal Minds Exclusive: A.J. Cook on Deep Secrets, Huge Changes & More

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Heading into tonight's Criminal Minds Season 9 finale, Reid and Morgan have been shot by a vicious pimp masquerading as a caring minister. And it looks as though the unsub got away with the setup.

In anticipation of Criminal Minds Season 9 Episode 24, I sat down with A.J. Cook to gauge her reaction to JJ changing roles from media liaison to profiler and also to ask her about the series getting picked up for Season 10.

Read on for excerpts from our exclusive Q&A...


TV Fanatic: I’m the guy from Oshawa who interviewed you some months ago.

A.J. Cook: Yay! Oshawa! My people!

TVF:  So, we learned back in March that Criminal Minds is being renewed for Season 10. Congratulations!

Cook: Thanks! It was such great news to hear.

TVFanatic:  What can you tell me about the upcoming season?

Cook: *laughs* You know what?  I don’t know a thing. I’ve got to make a note to ask someone about what’s happening in the new season.

A Team Member Threatened


TVF: Do you know if Esai Morales (who plays Mateo Cruz) is coming back?

Cook: I hope so. He’s got a new show on HBO though, so it’s hard to say. Hopefully he’ll be available for the occasional guest spot.

TVF: What can you tell us about the season finale?

Cook: You know, we left everyone on a cruel cliffhanger, having seen two of our own get shot. And we don't know what's happened to them. I went on Twitter and told everyone to “just breathe." It’ll all come together in the finale.

We’re going to see some intense moves from Garcia, so there’s that to watch for. And we’re going to learn a deep secret from one of our characters. Plus. there is going to be one huge change for one of us. 

In this episode, we've gone from angels to demons, and we're up against some major corruption in the town. Not everything is at it seems.

TVF: In addition to the corruption, you're also dealing with a police force that doesn't exactly know how to do its job.

Cook: *laughs* Exactly.

TVF: I really like the character of Preacher Mills, played by Brett Cullen.....

Cook: Yeah, it was a lot of fun working with him. He’s pretty great.

TVF: I was thinking about the notion of a violent preacher who’s also a pimp and a drug dealer. I have to imagine that may not have gone down well in some places. Have you gotten much feedback on that?

Cook: No, but there’s no doubt some wouldn’t care too much for that. He’s a great character, though. He was a lot of fun to work with.

TVF: JJ has been going through some major changes. She’s no longer the lower-profile media relations person, but is now front and center as a profiler. How has that been for you?

Cook: I’ve really enjoyed it. JJ is still the motherly type though, looking after her brood. That hasn’t changed. She still cares deeply about everyone she works with. That will never change.

TVF: I noticed on Criminal Minds Season 9 Episode 23 that JJ was fierce when firing her gun at Preacher Mills. That seemed to symbolize JJ's whole transformation.

A.J. Cook: Yeah, that was the mother hen coming out. One of our own had been shot, and she wasn’t going to allow that guy to get away.  

TVF: Kind of a Momma Bear.

Cook: Right.

TVF: Have you gotten any negative feedback about the change in JJ?

Cook: I’d say the reactions are about 50/50. There will always be some who just don’t like change, when they see something that works. They like the traditional characters. Others are happy to see what’s happened with JJ.

TVF: I was getting a haircut the other day and mentioned that I do a review for Criminal Minds. The girl who was washing my hair just about went nuts. She watches it all the time, even reruns. She doesn’t have a TV so it’s the one show she watches on her iPad. It’s her favorite show. I actually have heard this a lot. You guys have such a strong fan base.  

Cook: We sure do. I’m supposed to go to a few places in Europe over the summer hiatus. Joe and Matt have warned me that they’re pretty excited about the show over there. It's in syndication pretty much everywhere.

TVF: Kirsten Vangsness mentioned elsewhere that your ensemble cast is more like a family. What’s that like?

Cook: Oh for sure we are absolutely like a family. A bit of a dysfunctional family at times, but we all love each other.

The Criminal Minds Season 9 finale airs tonight at 9/8c on CBS.

Douglas Wolfe was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. He retired in 2016. Follow him on Twitter


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Criminal Minds Season 9 Episode 24 Quotes

Reid: Have you ever had that feeling that you're future's somehow behind you?
Blake: All the time.
Reid: I did too. But it isn't.
Blake: Ethan would have been a lot like you.
Reid: Thank you for being there when I woke up. It meant a lot.
Blake: Of course.
Reid: Bye, Alex.

We must be willing to get rid of the life we've planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us - Joseph Campbell