Murder most foul
Working on Criminal Minds hasn’t always been a pleasant experience, writes
THEY say truth is stranger than fiction. That’s especially true on Criminal Minds.
Every case on the show is based on a real crime. The big problem for the writers-creators of the drama is how to tell the true story without shocking the wits out of the audience.
Paget Brewster, who plays agent Emily Prentiss, says the gruesome nature of Criminal Minds has made her paranoid about her security away from the show.
‘‘I got bulletproof windows . . . hell, yeah,’’ Brewster says.
‘‘I started reading those FBI books, and they are rough. We’re not at all showing what people are capable of, not on television. You couldn’t put it on television, the things that are done to victims and their bodies afterwards. It’s appalling and burns into your brain.
‘‘I had a good couple of weeks where I didn’t sleep so well . . . it does affect you. Knowing the inside look that we get, just having access to FBI material, is disturbing.
‘‘I did a lot of technically illegal things to my home that are countermeasures for home invasion.
‘‘I’m not allowed to say what they are because then they don’t work as well. If you try to break in to my house, you will be severely lacerated and possibly electrocuted, and I’m fine with that. Because if you’re breaking into my house, you’re on your own.’’
Matthew Gray Gubler, who plays weedy agent Spencer Reid, is no less disturbed by the dark nature of Criminal Minds plotlines.
Gubler, who was a model before finding fame on the crime drama, explains: ‘‘I’m not an actor first of all. I fell into this. But, if anything, I’m definitely not a dramatic crime show actor. I feel like I’m Baryshnikov at a football game. It’s a bummer, man. After about 30,000 photos of dead children, you don’t want to look at dead children ever again . . . not that you did in the first place.
‘‘It takes it’s toll. When you watch it . . . it’s mind-bogglingly grotesque. It’s bizarre to me that we can get away with what we get away with on the show.’’
‘‘We’ve had to tone down almost every single one of them (crimes),’’ says executive producer Ed Bernero, who was a Chicago policeman for 10 years before he came to television.
‘‘What is really happening is much worse than anything we could or want to do.’’
Thomas Gibson, who plays the taciturn profiler Aaron Hotchner, shakes his head when asked how the role has affected his psyche.
Gibson, who previously specialised in making audiences laugh on the sitcom Dharma and Greg, says it’s easy to let the seriousness of the work affect his mood when he’s at home. Like his cast-mates, he never ceases to be amazed by the evil things people do.
Executive producer Mark Gordon says a reason for the show’s success is that it’s different from other crime dramas.
When most shows open, the crime has happened and we watch law enforcers solve it.
Criminal Minds is proactive — its Behavioural Analysis Unit officers are out in the field trying to stop more crime from happening. The show is a genuine thriller.
‘‘We don’t always save the day, which is humbling, which is interesting,’’ says Shemar Moore, who plays the bombastic Derek Morgan.
‘‘We make mistakes . . . but we hopefully save a life. We hopefully curb the crime. We make the promise that as long as you’re out there doing it, we’ll be out there chasing you. And that’s real life. That’s what’s going on every day.’’
Disturbing: (above) Matthew Gray Gubler, who plays agent Spencer Reid, never wants to see another picture of a dead child.