Interview: Kirsten Vangsness & Daniel Henney On ‘Criminal Minds’

Criminal Minds returns tonight for its 13th season at 10 PM EST on CBS. Season 12 ended with a cliff hanger of epic proportions that has left fans on the edge of their seats for months.

CBS Local’s Matt Weiss spoke to Kirsten Vangsness who plays FBI Technical Analyst Penelope Garcia and Daniel Henney who joins the cast full-time as Special Agent Matt Simmons.

MW- Hey there, how are you both doing?

KV- Hi Matt!

DH- Hey Matt, how’s it going?

MW- Doing great! So season 13 of Criminal Minds kicks off tonight and Kirsten you’ve been on the show pretty much since the beginning and Daniel you’re joining the show as a full time regular, what do you think it is about this show that has enabled it to have such a long successful run?

DH- I think the chemistry on set is really important and I think that shows through when you watch the show. We all genuinely get along, I just joined this season and I’ve even been surprised how accepting everyone has been, how great they’ve been with me. I feel like I’ve been doing this show for five seasons now.

I get to work and everyone is cracking jokes, in between set ups we don’t go back to our trailers we just hang out with each other. It’s just a very pleasant place to work and I think that bleeds through into the show when you watch – you can feel that energy. Also incredible writing, story lines, the people behind the scenes – there’s a reason the show has lasted this long.

KV- Yea, it’s a juxtaposition between all that gory and scary and stuff like that, you’re getting all your blood up, then you also have this team of people that all get along and care about each other – that mix of things is very sort of addicting.

And Daniel has come in with his own buckets of his very special chemistry and poured it all over the already existing chemistry and we have an experiment that I think people like to watch.

MW- I think the show does a really great job of balancing the dark subjects and the lighthearted moments without things feeling forced. That balancing act is always done really well to me.

KV- We try to do that and luckily we’ve had so much practice now that it kind of – sometimes when we do those set up scenes where we’re talking about the case, you’re IN it. We’re acting in it and I’m always sort of gobsmacked by how people can just volley information and that sort of agreement. As an actor it’s very satisfying to be in a room of people that are all supportive of one another. It’s really, really fun.

MW- And Kirsten your character, Penelope Garcia, is incredible and seems like such a blast to portray. How much fun do you have playing her?

KV- Probably as much fun as you think I do, times it by ten, I have a lot of fun. I have a lot, a lot, a lot of fun. I have the best job. She’s so lovely and it’s so special to be able to play a character that I look up to. There’s so many things that she’s excelled at. I don’t know what it would be like to play a bad guy because I walk around and I’m literally like a friend in the world and they think ‘Garcia! She has all the answers, it’s you!’ That’s really nice, I basically play a human muppet and that’s a great thing!

DH- I have to tell you something when I first started working on the show, the one thing that threw me off was that when we started doing rehearsals for scenes when Kirsten was with us, she’s so good that I couldn’t tell when she’d started her dialogue so I wouldn’t know when to get started. She’s so natural and I thought to myself, ‘Is this how she does? Is she that natural?’ She does this thing where her rhythm is so unique and she’ll stumble through it because that’s who Garcia is and it took me awhile to get used to just how good it was.

MW- That’s so nice to hear, that it really is as much fun as it looks. Now season 12 ended on a big cliff hanger with a major car crash that involved most of the team. Are we going to find out tonight who survived or are we going to have to wait until a little further into the season?

KV- Well we call it a cliff hanger for a reason and I think the episode before was the cliff hanger otherwise it’d be a double cliff hanger, two cliffs. I’m not sure if there’s two cliffs, I know there’s one and it’s very cliffy…

DH- …we’re at the bottom of the cliff now.

KV- We’re at the bottom now but there’s a lot of harrowing that happens and also a really beautiful set up to bring in Matt Simmons.

DH- I think there will be a lot of satisfaction for the first episode that’s for sure and it’s a great episode.

MW- Awesome, I’ll be tuning in for sure tonight and can’t wait to see what’s at the bottom of the cliff! Thanks for taking the time out to talk today and good luck to both of you on the new season!

KV- Thanks Matt!

DH- Thank you!

Criminal Minds returns tonight at 10 PM EST on CBS. Check your local listings for more information.

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