Tonight, "Spencer Reid" goes behind the camera to direct Paget Brewster's final appearance as BAU Special Agent Emily Prentiss on the hit CBS procedural Criminal Minds. Fan-fave actor-director Matthew Gray Gubler teases to us that "Lauren" features "a very tricky ending" that hits Spencer and Garcia (Kirsten Vangsness) "the hardest." Sniff.
How do quesadillas make everything better, what was the hardest part about saying farewell to a friend and fellow castmember, and why is "Lauren" perhaps even more important than this season's finale? Find out:
Who is the "Lauren" of the title?
Lauren may or may not be the secret alter ego of our beloved Emily Prentiss character. Her secret coming to fruition.
Lauren's got herself in some trouble.
She does. She's in hot water.
Is it true that Paget asked that you direct the episode?
It's actually a funny story, I directed my first episode of the show last year, and it went exceptionally well. I was very proud of it, so they let me do another one this year. It was sort of a multirequest—she knew that she was leaving, and they asked her what they could do to make her a little happier about it, and she said, "One thing you could do is assure me that Matthew will direct my final episode." And I was very honored. So yeah, that's how it kind of came about.
Your character and Garcia often serve as the comic relief in the series. Is Spencer able to lighten the mood in this episode, or are you mostly just behind the camera in this episode?
Garcia and Reid are both in it quite a bit. Obviously, it hits maybe the two of us the hardest.
How bad is it going to be?
It's a very tricky ending. I don't want to give away too much, but it's a unique one for sure. Having one of our friends and coworkers in the sort of line of fire is never easy.
How was directing different the second time around?
It was exponentially easier, because I overprepare for everything. The first time around I was prepared to clean the lens, I was ready at any moment to take over any miniscule detail like, "Oh oh oh, I brought in the quesadillas for lunch." I was sort of comically overprepared for the first one. This one I was just exceptionally prepared, as a guy who's been through the fire once before who knows how to sort of prepare—it was a little bit more fun this time.
What's your favorite part of directing?
It's funny, I truly love every aspect of it. The three things that fit me the most that I just really enjoy: I love casting—finding the right unique people for each part; I love set design quite a bit, setting the mood, I like costuming, the music; and then finally talking with the actors—I've learned directing is nothing more than learning how to communicate with 300 different people in 300 different languages. I sort of pride myself on my ability to talk to everyone in their own specific vernacular.
Is this episode a turning point for the season?
For selfish reasons, I approached this as though it was the show's finale. To give it what it needed, I pretended like this was possibly the last episode we'd ever make of the show. That's merely my brain. But again we do something on the show that we've never been able to do with a character before. So it's a bit of a momentous episode.
Things have changed a lot this year on Criminal Minds; what are the strengths of the new structure of the show?
It is sort of a turning point for the show. It's very unique that we are in the sixth season, the end of it, and we're still doing tremendously well in the ratings, we still have loving fans. I think right now it could be, depending on what happens—there were a lot of changes made earlier in the season. I don't know, there may be changes in the seventh season—it seems to me we are on the precipice of either of becoming great or not.
Criminal Minds is one of the few shows that has both ratings and a devoted online fandom—how does that success make you feel?
It makes me the happiest person in the world. If we had two fans, or one fan, I would be incredibly happy and touched. The fact that we get to entertain that many people on a weekly basis just really means the world to me. And the international level too, we're in Japan and France, we're all just so thankful that we can be a part of something that makes people happy. I think some people get a bit, "Oh, we're never noticed for awards or anything," but I never believed in awards. For me, if I could choose between people liking the show or critics liking it, I would always, a 1000 times over, choose people because I'm only playing for the people. I'm just happy it's been well received.
Now, use the comments as a gathering place where you all can bow down and collectively worship at the altar of MGG. You know you want to. Go!