It was one year ago that Criminal Minds made headlines after it was announced that two of their stars were leaving the hit series in the upcoming season. A.J. Cook was one of the stars departing.
Fast-forward a year, everyone is back, and the team will be reunited when Criminal Minds returns for its 7th season this Fall.
A.J. Cook made her return to the series during the last season finale, when her character J.J. announced that she would be returning to BAU. However this upcoming season, J.J. will now be a profiler.
Before the season begins, I had the chance to have talk to A.J. Cook. She opens up about her shocking departure one year ago, her eventual return, and what’s in store for Season 7. Here’s what she had to say:
Adam: First off, on behalf of all Criminal Minds fans, I’d like to say
“welcome back!” (laughs) How does it feel to be back after being out for
most of last season?
AJ: It all just seemed like a bad dream, a distant memory. It feels like i never even left. It’s great to be back with the family.
Adam: While doing this job, I’ve seen characters leave series plenty of
times, but the fan response when it was announced that you would be out
for most Season 6, was one of the biggest responses I’ve ever seen. How
did you feel seeing people react that much about JJ’s departure?
AJ: I felt incredibly honored! I didn’t know that people cared so much. It really helped me through, what could have been, a painful time. Instead, they helped me feel very proud of the work I had done on the show! Thank you for that! Thank you for your support!
Adam: It was good to see you in the first two episodes last season, and
eventually the one where Emily Prentiss was “killed off.” Tell me about
returning for an episode that was to send-off someone else.
AJ: Paget was such a support system for me in my final episodes. It was extremely important for me to do the same for her. It did feel a little strange being a guest in what once was my house. Yeah, that was weird.
Adam: You made your official return in the season 6 finale when JJ told
Rossi she wanted back on the team. Tell me about being asked to be back
full-time after the turbulent events of last year, which no doubt was
filled with some ups and downs.
AJ: I had to think long and hard on it. My ego gave the initial response, which was “NO WAY”. My defenses were way up and I had to talk myself off the edge a little bit. At the end of the day, it was the best thing for my family at this time in my life. And I love everyone at CM. It’s kind of the dream job!
Adam: So now you’re back…AND Paget Brewster is back! When you signed back
on did you have any idea she would be returning too? Or was it a
AJ: Paget still had one more year on her contract, so I did know she’d be back. I knew the whole team would be back together!
Adam: Ok, now onto Season 7. JJ is back, but in a new position. I hear
she’s now a profiler. What can you tell us about her new role?
AJ: JJ’s a profiler! I wasn’t going to go back if we couldn’t figure out a way to use her properly. We don’t need to come up with reasons why JJ is involved in certain scenes anymore. She’s there because she belongs there now! That grey area is gone and it feels really good!
Adam: How much time has passed between the season 6 finale and the season
AJ: Some time has passed. The episode jumps around in time to show you what everyone has been up to over the last 6 months. It was a great way to explain all the changes that had happened.
Adam: With Paget Brewster returning, this means that the whole team will
find out that Emily Prentiss isn’t actually dead. Meanwhile, Hotch and
JJ knew about this the whole time. First off, how will the team react to
this news, and will there be tension between JJ and the team because she
AJ: There are going to be some trust issues within the team. Maybe between people you didn’t really expect. It’s going to be GOOOOD!
Adam: Since this will be the first time we see JJ in this new position,
will we be seeing her deal with the change? How will she adapt?
AJ: She’s adapting pretty well. She’s a tough cookie now. I think she’s seen some pretty heavy things in the state department over the last year. She a pretty good profiler because she has spent so much time with the team. She kind of has an unfair advantage.
Adam: Does anyone on the team help her make the transition easier?
AJ: Whenever she has a question she goes to “encyclopedia” Reid for the answer. He’s pretty handy to have around!
Adam: What can we expect from JJ’s personal life in Season 7? She’s now a
mother with a new job. Is she still with Will? What’s the status of that
AJ: We ‘re going to see a little into her personal life this year. Josh Stewart (Will) is coming back in episode 707. I haven’t read it yet, but I hear it GOOOOOD!!
Adam: Before this interview, I asked Criminal Minds fans on Twitter to
send me questions for you, and the most popular one was “Will she hook
up with someone on the team.” (laughs) They REALLY want it to happen,
are you surprised? (laughs)
AJ: That’s funny! And who would they like me to hook up with? I’ll put in the request!
(Editor’s Note: You heard her, readers. Head to the comment sections with your requests.)
Adam: Will there be any season-long arcs for Season 7? What can you tell
us about it?
AJ: I’m not sure what kind of character arcs are happening, but I can guarantee that there will be some.
Adam: Criminal Minds can really be a dark show, but from what I’ve seen
on Twitter you guys are always smiling and having a blast. (laughs) Tell
me about the on-set chemistry with the cast. How do you keep it “light?”
AJ: This is why it’s the dream job! Everyone is funny. We like to laugh and have a good time. We find humor in everything!
Adam: Who’s the funniest cast-member on the set? You can’t say “they’re
all funny.” (laughs)
AJ: Oh, man. You can’t ask me that. That’s like asking “Which of your children do you like the best”. Our crew is hilarious as well.
Adam: What’s the biggest challenge you face shooting Criminal Minds? The
hardest part of the job?
AJ: Acting in a “procedural” is extremely challenging. One of the hardest gigs out there, in my opinion. It’s a lot of information and exposition that you have to make sound interesting and exciting. I tip my hat to those who do it well because it’s not easy.
Adam: During your time away from Criminal Minds last season, you
guest-starred on Law & Order: SVU. Tell me about your time on there. Did
you enjoy the change?
AJ: I had a great time on SVU. It was a nice change being the victim for once. Working with Jeremy Irons was a nice treat! I just shot a movie called Least Among Saints that I’m very proud of as well. I needed to throw myself into these complicated characters before heading back to CM. I love being an actor and it’s important to remind myself of that by always switching things up and never letting myself get to comfortable.
Adam: Anything else I should know? Feel free to drop a bombshell here.
Adam: Finally, I ask this to all my interviewees. What have you been
watching on TV lately?
AJ: SYTYCD!!! The season just ended so I’m going into withdrawal. So many talented dancers this year! (So You Think You Can Dance. For those of you not in the know)
Big thank you to AJ Cook for taking the time to have this chat. You can watch her and the rest of the Criminal Minds team when they return for Season 7. Season Premiere airs on Wednesday September 21st, 2011.