‘Criminal Minds’ Rolling Along Sans Mandy, Says AJ Cook

“Criminal Minds” regular AJ Cook says in the wake of Mandy Patinkin’s unexpected departure and ensuing brouhaha, the cast and crew has “rolled with the punches. “We’re not going to lie and say we weren’t surprised and disappointed, but we’re going to move forward and hope that it all goes fine,” says the gorgeous blond actress, who plays FBI Special Agent Jennifer “JJ” Jareau on the CBS drama. “We wish the best to Mandy.”
Joe Mantegna has been announced as the replacement for Patinkin’s character, Supervisory Special Agent Jason Gideon, and Cook says, “The writers are locked in a room somewhere trying to find out who this new character is and how to bring him on. It’ll be interesting to see how that changes the dynamic on the set and on screen.”

The writers are also dealing with how to explain Gideon’s absence. Cook says she’d be “personally shocked” if they kill off the character. “Last season his girlfriend was killed and he was on the run trying to find the killer, so luckily they had that, to set up his departure.” As for the ultimate fate of Patinkin’s character, she says, “They’ve left us all in the dark here. All I know is we’re looking for him … We’re trying to figure out where he is and hunt the man down.” She adds with a laugh, “What’s so funny is, it’s kind of art imitating life. In our read-through, we had lines in there that seemed to be pulled out of our lives — ‘Has anyone seen Gideon — or Mandy?’”

She says Patinkin did eventually contact his former cast mates after leaving sans notice. “We have been kind of playing phone tag, but he has gone out of his way to make sure he reached all of us.” She adds, “I think that was the biggest part for us … We just didn’t know what was going on, and we were all worried. Once we got into contact with him and knew he was OK, then it was we just want him to be happy.”

- www.nationalledger.com

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