She’s finally back! EW checked in with A.J. Cook, the beloved ex-co-star of Criminal Minds who will re-join the CBS series (full time!) this fall. Was it all your cards and letters that made CBS change its mind? Or was it that the dark and dreary drama never felt the same once the gentle JJ left the crime scene? Let the actress explain while she helps to promote the show’s May 18 finale.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How many episodes did you appear in this season?
A.J. COOK: Including the finale, it will be four.
Will the finale involve a cliffhanger?
In all honesty, we have so many balls in the air, we’re trying to figure that out. We just shot it [last] Thursday. It was my first day back with everyone. It definitely set everything up. It’s very ominous. What’s Criminal Minds without a crazy cliffhanger? I’m guessing there might be one or two.
How surreal is it that you’re back full time?
People were fighting for me since day one. The whole thing took so many people by surprise. It just didn’t make sense to a lot of people from the get-go. I think when I came back for Paget’s [goodbye] episode, they started to come up with story ideas, and storylines that would make sense to utilize JJ, what she could become on the show. There were whispers for quite some time. I was trying to have closure and until I had a proper offer, I couldn’t speak about it! I did go on auditions. A lot of really great opportunities came up, but I have a family and I would have had to move my family out of the country or out of the state. I was in a position where I didn’t need to run out and grab the next thing that came my way, so I had a nice little vacation.
The uproar from fans must have felt so great.
In all honesty, that’s what really helped me hold my head up high. I wasn’t just another blonde chick, another actor. I meant something to them. That’s not to say the network didn’t think that. They are entitled to do whatever the heck they want. It’s their show. But it’s overwhelming how fans all loved JJ and how they really felt like the heart of the show was ripped out.
Why do fans love JJ so much?
Because it’s a dark show and it’s packed with a lot of testosterone. JJ was different from everyone. She was the mother, she was the nurturer and she had a special relationship with each character on a personal level. People connected to that, they needed the compassion from JJ to make the show feel not so heavy. They can’t be gloomy and doomy all the time.
So why was the character eliminated in the first place?
Money had nothing to do it. They decided to go in a different creative decision. I was never given a full explanation. Now they decided to do something creative and that’s why they brought me back. They came up with story lines for JJ to use her properly. So I’m back in full force! It feels like coming home again. I was never able to get full closure on it and this is why. Because it wasn’t over. I was meant to come back for some reason.