CRIMINAL MINDS is now in its twelfth season, Wednesday nights on CBS. Paget Brewster has had a unique relationship with the series, which concerns the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU). Brewster was brought in to play Special Agent Emily Prentiss in Season 2 when Lola Glaudini, playing Special Agent Elle Greenaway, departed CRIMINAL MINDS. Mandy Patinkin left suddenly at start of Season 3, and Thomas Gibson’s character Aaron Hotchner was promoted to unit chief, with Joe Mantegna coming in as experienced profiler David Rossi.
Brewster was with CRIMINAL MINDS through its sixth season, when she and A.J. Cook, who plays Special Agent Jennifer “J.J.” Jareau, were both let go. Emily Prentiss was in fact apparently killed off – but then there was a hint she might still be alive.
A great many angry fans contacted CBS, with the result that Brewster and Cook were brought back. Brewster stayed with CRIMINAL MINDS through the end of Season 7, then left with Emily taking a counter-terrorism job in England. Brewster made a few guest appearances in the years in between. For Season 12, she has returned as a regular – and Emily is now the Special Agent in charge of this branch of the BAU. This followed the amicable departure of Shemar Moore as Derek Morgan at the end of Season 11, and the firing of Gibson due to a physical altercation with a producer at the start of Season 12; both actors had been with CRIMINAL MINDS from the beginning.
When she’s not playing Prentiss and saving America from serial killers, Brewster often does comedy. The actress from Massachusetts had a recurring role on FRIENDS, has guested on DRUNK HISTORY, and was a regular in ANDY RICHTER CONTROLS THE UNIVERSE, HUFF, GRANDFATHERED and the last season of COMMUNITY. Brewster is currently on Comedy Central’s ANOTHER PERIOD. Additionally, she has been one of the mainstays of THE THRILLING ADVENTURE HOUR, a live stage anthology show where Brewster created the role of alcoholic ghost-hunter Sadie Doyle.
At a breakfast CBS hosts for its talent and the Television Critics Association at a West Hollywood restaurant, Brewster talks her return to CRIMINAL MINDS and more.
ASSIGNMENT X: What got you feeling like you wanted to come back to CRIMINAL MINDS?
PAGET BREWSTER: Well, I had always been open to guest-starring in the four years after I left. I came back and guest-starred twice, and [in 2016], they came to me and said, “Will you guest-star again?” I said, “Sure, I’ll do six throughout the year.” And then the dust-up that happened with Mr. Gibson, and they said, “Please stay, because losing him is going to hurt us.” And I understood that, and they’re all my friends, and I’d already shot three episodes as a guest, and I was having a great time, so I said, “All right.”
AX: Was Emily’s adjustment fun to play, of thinking she was there temporarily and then deciding she was there permanently?
BREWSTER: Yeah, suddenly the scripts changed [laughs]. So it was exciting and scary, and those are big shoes to fill, and Tom was exceptional as Hotch, so there was some pressure.
AX: Was it a little strange coming back and having no Thomas Gibson and no Shemar Moore?
BREWSTER: Oh, yeah. When I guested one time Shemar wasn’t there, and that was weird, so then to have neither of them – yeah, it’s an adjustment. Those guys are great. They’re great at what they do, and they are missed. They’re larger than life personalities on set, and we worked together for years and years, so yeah, it’s different.
AX: I don’t know if you can speak to this or want to speak to this, but what happened with Thomas Gibson?
BREWSTER: Unfortunately, Thomas got angry and was justified in being angry about the situation, but his anger got the better of him, and I think he regrets and regretted at the time becoming physical in any way, but unfortunately, once the precedent is set, now ABC [the studio that produces CRIMINAL MINDS, although it airs on CBS] and CBS are vulnerable to damage if it happens again. So I know Thomas regrets what happened, I know he wishes it never happened, but it wasn’t the only time.
AX: So there was another incident awhile back and then a more recent one in 2016?
BREWSTER: Correct. And it’s unfortunate. We all love Thomas, and we miss him, but it was a situation that could not have had another outcome, unfortunately. And that’s what’s so sad about it.
AX: They’ve brought in a few new cast members this year. How are you enjoying working with Adam Rodriguez, who used to be on CSI: MIAMI and plays Special Agent Luke Alvez?
BREWSTER: Oh, he’s lovely. And I didn’t sign on as a series regular until I sussed him out. Because I thought, “Oh, this guy might be trouble, he’s too good-looking, I know he’s going to be a jerk.” [laughs] He’s not! He’s the nicest guy. He’s so down to Earth. He brings this whole new energy to his character and to the show. And he’s great. So after I did a couple episodes with him, and they said, “Do you want to come back full time?”, I said, “Yeah, I like this guy.” He was great and everyone else I’ve known for years.
AX: It looked for awhile like a flirtation was starting between Prentiss and Alvez …
BREWSTER: It did seem that way in the beginning, didn’t it? I don’t feel like that flirtation has continued, but that’s because it’s really, at the end of the day, if people are being murdered and it’s our job to stop that, not mess around in a supply closet, I don’t think there’s ever going to be a situation where Supervisory Special Agents are flirting instead of stopping a serial killer. So I think they have to put the kibosh on anything suggesting a relationship.
AX: Are you still working with the THRILLING ADVENTURE HOUR people?
BREWSTER: No. Unfortunately. I mean, we did it for eleven years and [creators Ben] Acker and [Ben] Blacker and Paul F. Tompkins [who plays Sadie Doyle’s husband Frank] and I have taken out BEYOND BELIEF to try to sell it. It’s a very high-concept, expensive show, so it’s hard. I know they’re looking into pitching a show with [another THRILLING ADVENTURE saga] SPARKS NEVADA. So right now, after eleven years of every month, sometimes three or four times a month, the guys are burned out, they’re just exhausted. They’ve written two hundred and eighty episodes of shows, so we’re taking a break. We’re all pressuring them to go back to doing it once a month, and we’re saying, “We’ll read you any script you want, we just want to once a month get together at Largo and do the show, because we miss it.” We miss each other and our fans. Hopefully, we can talk them into doing it once a month at Largo like we used to.
AX: Maybe once every several months?
BREWSTER: Sure. Whatever it takes. We’ll take it any way they’ll let us do it. Right now, we have no plans to perform it any time soon, which is a bummer.
AX: Are you still doing ANOTHER PERIOD?
BREWSTER: Yes. Part of my deal with CRIMINAL MINDS was, I was able to retain playing Dodo Bellacourt on ANOTHER PERIOD. So I’ll do ten to thirteen episodes in February and March. So I might miss a couple of episodes of CRIMINAL MINDS, I might not. There might be a way to work it out.
AX: Is it fun to bounce back and forth between those shows, because you couldn’t get too much more different than CRIMINAL MINDS and ANOTHER PERIOD?
BREWSTER: The reason why I didn’t want to come back full time to CRIMINAL MINDS was, I didn’t want to lose all the other opportunities I had, and I didn’t want to lose ANOTHER PERIOD. I wanted to continue doing ANOTHER PERIOD and DRUNK HISTORY and be able to do THRILLING ADVENTURE HOUR. So CBS was nice enough to let me keep it. It was sort of the deciding factor to come back – I don’t lose anything, I’m not losing the opportunity to do comedy, to continue playing around with those guys on ANOTHER PERIOD. Because it doesn’t pay. ANOTHER PERIOD is funny – [as far as money], it’s what I made bartending. But I love it, and I never want to give it up.
AX: When you were doing CRIMINAL MINDS and THRILLING ADVENTURE – I think you were doing both the whole time THRILLING ADVENTURE was happening …
BREWSTER: Well, if the shows were on a Saturday night, I could do THRILLING ADVENTURE. I missed a lot of conventions and out-of-town gigs, but I was still able to do it. It was a weekend thing.
AX: But you were getting to do comedy on stage almost the whole time you were doing CRIMINAL MINDS on TV. Did you miss doing the drama when you weren’t doing CRIMINAL MINDS? You did have an arc on LAW & ORDER: SVU …
BREWSTER: Yeah, you know, it’s that old thing. When you’re doing drama, you miss comedy, and when you’re doing comedy, you miss drama. So now I’m in the catbird’s seat, where I get to do both, and I’m incredibly fortunate.
AX: Did you feel like you got to do what you wanted to do on GRANDFATHERED?
BREWSTER: Yeah, that was a lot of fun. I was sad when they decided not to continue making that show. We had a nice time there, and everyone got along. But in the things-happen-for-a-reason way, I am happy that I got to be able to come back to this group of people who I love and have fun with.
AX: You had some really weird physical stuff to do when it appeared that Emily was killed …
BREWSTER: You mean when I got stabbed in the spine with a table leg? Yeah, there was a lot of showering, a lot of blood and a lot of sweat and a lot of dust. We were in a dusty warehouse – that’s actual dust. That’s not movie magic, you’re in the dirt. But it was fun. At that point in time, it was kind of sad, because that’s when A.J. and I had been fired, so it was sad. It was hard.
AX: What was your reaction when they said, “Well, we’re going to have to see that Emily’s back at the end of this season to show she’s not dead after all of that”?
BREWSTER: What I had said was, “You’re not showing my face. You fired me, so they’ve written that I died, I died – I’ll shoot a scene, but I won’t show my face.” And of course, everyone knew my fingernails are all bitten down to nothing. So I had to reach out and take a file [and the hand was seen], so now Emily’s alive. Of course, now, thank God, I’m so happy that that happened, I’m glad I didn’t die. I’m fortunate enough to have returned to a show with writers good enough to make that make sense.
AX: And you got the whole spy/secret agent arc …
BREWSTER: Yeah, it was great.
AX: Do you have a favorite scene or episode from the last few seasons?
BREWSTER: The [Season 12] episode [“Profiling 202”], I think it’s one of the best ones ever. It featured Joe Mantegna mostly. It was a story specific to Rossi’s character and his past with a serial killer that he had been in communication with for two decades, and it’s an amazing episode, it’s really beautiful. I don’t want to give anything away, but they’re teaching a class. Damon Gupton plays a new [regular] character, a new agent named Walker, Steven Walker. Walker, Rossi and Prentiss are teaching a class on how to defuse a hostage situation, and we see all the bad outcomes that the students suggest, and that was great to shoot.
AX: Do you have any other projects going on we should know about?
BREWSTER: No, just this, and I’ll start ANOTHER PERIOD in the spring.
AX: And what would you most like people to know about CRIMINAL MINDS right now?
BREWSTER: I hope the ones that have left will return, because we miss our fans, and we understand why they miss Hotch. We miss Hotch, too. But I hope they’ll come back to the other two hundred and sixty-five people who work on the show who miss them and want them back.
Article Source: Assignment X
Article: CRIMINAL MINDS: Paget Brewster talks Season 12 and her return to MINDS – exclusive interview