A.J. Cook Revealed What It’s Been Like To Return To “Criminal Minds” Without Matthew Grey Gubler

So, you know Matthew Gray Gubler. He starred as fan favorite Dr. Spencer Reid on Criminal Minds for 15 seasons and appeared in nearly every one of its 324 episodes.

A closeup of Dr. Spencer Reid
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Now just two years after the series finale, our favorite serial killer-hunting team is back with Criminal Minds: Evolution.

The cast of the original Criminal Minds

Picking up shortly after the pandemic, the Behavioral Analysis Unit will face one of their biggest threats yet, an unsub who's used the pandemic to create a giant network of serial killers. As the world begins to open back up, the BAU will start hunting these killers one by one.

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And while many fans are screaming for joy as their favorite comfort crime show returns, many have also noticed that the revival is missing one very crucial element: Dr. Spencer Reid.

Matthew Gray Gubler and Daniel Henney (who played Matt Simmons) are the only two original series cast members who have not returned to the series yet. Executive producer Erica Messer explained, 

Matthew Gray Gubler and Daniel Henney (who played Matt Simmons) are the only two original series cast members who have not returned to the series yet. Executive producer Erica Messer explained, "It's a little bit more of a mystery of what Reid and Simmons are up to. They are not gone, gone." She also clarified that Reid and Simmons' desks will still be included in the BAU office set.

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People — the cast included — are understandably heartbroken.

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In a recent interview with BuzzFeed, A.J. Cook, who plays SSA Jennifer "JJ" Jareau, talked about what it was like to come back to Criminal Minds without her onscreen best friend.

Matthew and A.J. in a scene together on the original Criminal Minds
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She said, "Matthew is one of the most charismatic, larger than life, yet very real, people I've ever met. It was actually really, really difficult for me when I found out he wasn't gonna be able to come back. I considered not [returning]."

Matt and A.J. in FBI gear smiling on the set
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"I was like, 'I don't know how to do this without him. Like, how do we do this?' [Spencer and JJ are] best friends. I kind of struggled with that at first."

She added,

She added, "But when we started seeing the scripts, it's just such a strong storyline that it made me feel a lot better when I saw where it was all going."

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"We all want him there. Hopefully, that will all come together because he's so much fun to be around. He's just that guy that you want to be around. Good energy."

The cast together with Matt in the center and his arm around A.J.
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And luckily, Gubler's return is definitely in the realm of possibility, because Cook even said, "But yeah, he's so great and we definitely miss him. Hopefully, we will see him again soon. We're definitely setting some things up."

The cast together, including Matt during the original show's run

"I can't really give anything away. But we just want to make sure that [Gubler and Henney] can come back at any time."

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Earlier this month, Joe Mantegna, who plays SSA David Rossi, even tagged Gubler in an Instagram post promoting the revival.

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I mean........it's pretty good evidence that Gubler could somehow be involved, huh?

Matt holding two thumbs up

👀👀👀

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But for now, only time will tell!

  Cbs Photo Archive / CBS via Getty Images
Cbs Photo Archive / CBS via Getty Images

Read A.J.'s full interview here and be sure to stream Criminal Minds: Evolution on Paramount+.