Criminal Minds Evolution Interview: The Cast Breakdown Season Two Of The Paramount+ Series


After spending 15 seasons airing weekly on CBS, Criminal Minds restructured its series by debuting Criminal Minds: Evolution. The ten-episode season debuted on Paramount+ with rave reviews, earning a second season. Executive Producer Erica Messer’s strategy to bring a more linear story to the series proved fruitful for the success of season one.

After a brief two-year hiatus, the new reincarnation of Criminal Minds with Evolution had me excited to see what they could do with the series being on a streamer vs. cable TV. I found myself attached to the series like I hadn’t in a long time, as season 1 had you on the edge of your seat with Elias Voit and the mystery of his character running rampant. Season 2 picks up right where they left off with two incredible episodes that see Zach Gilford continue to deliver a knockout performance as Voit.

The Plot

Season 2 of Criminal Minds: Evolution picks up after the events of season 1, where the Behavioral Analysis Unit is thrust into negotiating with the man who has been terrorizing them for months in Elias Voit. As Voit continues to evolve, the BAU faces its biggest threat.

Criminal Minds: Evolution Cast talk upcoming battle with Elias

Everyone fell in love with Zach Gilford for his portrayal of Matt Saracen in the hit series Friday Night Lights. His career took an abrupt turn with a powerful performance in Netflix’s The Fall of the House of Usher. Later that year, we saw him step into the role of Elias Voit, a calculating and deadly serial killer. Gilford talked about stepping back into Voit’s shoes for a second season.

Season two is a whole different side of Voit. Last season was more about showing his human side around his family and trying to protect them from the monster that he kind of knows that he is inside. And this season, he’s now caught in a cage and trying to manipulate his way out. I finally get to interact with the BAU and the original cast members. And most of those interactions is just me fucking with them and trying to get under their skin. So it’s a lot of fun, and it’s easier to needle people when you know them than when you’ve just met them.

Joe Mantegna has played David Rossi for almost 300 episodes. Throughout his time in the role, we’ve watched him experience just about every human emotion imaginable. Rossi is dealing with the aftermath of Voit kidnapping him and now is seeing Voit every day and is fighting with this voice. Mantegna talked about preparing for these scenes where he is shooting with a scene partner while also dealing with this voice in his head.

If it’s on the page, it’s on the stage, my feeling is. In other words, if they put the scenario and the framework there, then it’s just my job to interpret that. I’ve always had great faith in our writing staff and where they take it. Obviously, we all have some degree of imagination throughout our lives, even as children. So, I mean, it’s not a big stretch to be able to say, especially if you’ve experienced something that could be close to, if not directly being, PTSD, which, in this case, I would say fits.

AJ Cook has stepped into the shoes of Jennifer “JJ” Jareau for close to 300 episodes. In the modern age of television, most people don’t have this kind of time for these roles. AJ talks to us about why she continues to return to JJ and wants to continue to deliver in the role.

It’s so funny because when you say it in those terms, it sounds like that’s a long, long time, which it has been. But the interesting thing is I’ve never been bored playing this character. She’s constantly evolving, growing, learning, and changing a person. And it’s something. I had two babies while doing the show, which is documented. It’s so wild that I’ve been on it for that long, but it’s such a gift, and I’ve never once been bored with it.


I love this character. JJ is like a sister to me and someone that I look up to. When I need some strength, I’m like, what would JJ do, you know? How would she handle this? But not just with JJ, but with all of our characters. Every single one of our characters is very human.

While JJ was unable to get much out of Voit, we saw Luke Alvez (Adam Rodriguez) become the latest from the BAU to try to get Voit to provide them with any information. Alvez and Voit share a powerful back-and-forth inside the jail cell that sees Alvez get the upper hand and get Voit to break a little. I asked Adam Rodriguez about that scene and working with Gilford to create that magic.

He’s got a really subtle way of working, and you can see it in the way that he plays Voight. I want to say suckered into, but almost hypnotized might be a better word, into forgetting that this man is the kind of monster he is. Our writers have done a great job of giving you enough of a glimpse into his regular life so that you can pardon characters like us for momentarily lapsing sometimes. We’ve just got to quickly regain consciousness and remind ourselves, no, this is not a human being that we’re dealing with, but this is, this is a monster.

In terms of playing those scenes, you have to pick and choose the moments where you will allow your character to have those. And you must be careful about where you decide to regain consciousness. Zach’s got this wonderful way of working that allows you to do that. Because he really is sucking you in, and it’s been a lot of fun. It is never boring. That’s one of the things I think that’s been so great. Not to say that we were going through the motions on the show. It is a new chapter of what’s been around for so long. And we do get to come to life in a brand new way. The relationships and the characters as individuals, all of it really just gets to be explored in a way that I think everyone has earned. I think the actors have earned it and I think the audience has earned it.

For fifteen seasons over fifteen years, Criminal Minds aired on CBS and delivered more non-linear storytelling throughout the years. In each episode, they would hunt a person, and by the end, they would capture, and the next episode would be the same. It was a rinse, recycle, and repeat method to the series. However, with the move to Paramount+ last year, we’ve seen a more linear story with Lucas Voit that has taken the series to new heights. Aisha Tyler talks about the shift and how it has helped the series.

That’s a really good question. I think you’ve pinned it on the way the show had evolved from what it previously was when it was very much like a freak of the week procedural show where we got our lousy guy inevitably at the end of the episode. Now, it’s real profiling work, which is that building these cases takes time, and there are setbacks and challenges, but it’s also allowed us, in terms of story, to draw these much more robust, more fully realized characters, right? We’re seeing more into not just their personalized and interpersonal relationships as characters, you know, as profilers on the show, but also literally into their minds and what it takes to be a profiler.

Criminal Minds Evolution’s first two episodes hit Paramount+ on June 6.