Why Zach Gilford's Criminal Minds Role Was a Long Time Coming

Zach Gilford may be a new addition to the Criminal Minds reboot, but he told E! News that he's been familiar with the show for some time.

By Alyssa Ray Nov 21, 2022 7:08 PMTags
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Now this is what we call a full circle moment.

Zach Gilford may be a new player in the Criminal Minds universe, but that doesn't mean he's a stranger to the franchise. In an exclusive interview with E! News, the Friday Night Lights alum revealed that he once auditioned for the OG show, which ran on CBS between 2005 and 2020.

"It was one of my first auditions that I ever had," he recalled. "For the pilot! So I've been aware of the show forever."

He even joked that he'd get "so mad" whenever he'd catch an episode, because the original Criminal Minds was "so good."

Now Gilford stars in the reboot, titled Criminal Minds: Evolution, as Elias Voit, "an operations analyst for a global cyber-security firm who has a dark side and an obsession with death," according to Paramount+. In short: Elias is the next big bad for the BAU to catch.

And don't expect Agents Rossi (Joe Mantegna), Prentiss (Paget Brewster), Lewis (Aisha Tyler), Alvez (Adam Rodriguez), Garcia (Kirsten Vangsness) and Jareau (A. J. Cook) to catch him in under 60 minutes like in its predecessor. Criminal Minds: Evolution follows the team over the course of 10 episodes, as, per the streamer, they work to take down "an UnSub who has used the pandemic to build a network of other serial killers."

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And it was this storytelling pivot that drew Gilford to the reboot. "That allows them to go home with the UnSub," he told E! News, "and see who this monster is when he has to pretend to be a human."

Michael Yarish /Paramount+

For Gilford, this opportunity to share more about the UnSub let Criminal Minds: Evolution go to "scarier" new heights, adding, "You start to think, 'This could be your neighbor, this could be someone at my kids' school.'"

The show's move from CBS to Paramount+ has also allowed Criminal Minds to become even darker—which we thought was impossible until now! But, as Gilford detailed, being on the streamer permitted the performances and narrative to be "a little more natural."

"Being on networks, there's handcuffs," the Midnight Mass actor noted. "The biggest thing is having 55 minutes versus 42. It allows them to flesh everyone out. And then to have the 10 episode arc, you get to kind of do a 10 hour movie."

Curious to see how Criminal Minds has evolved? Catch Criminal Minds: Evolution when it premieres with two episodes Nov. 24 on Paramount+.

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