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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Criminal Minds’ Kirsten Vangsness Spills On Season 12

Everyone should know who Penelope Garcia is. If you don’t, we aren’t sure where you have been the last 11 years. Penelope Garcia, played by the beautiful, talented, and funny Kirsten Vangsness is a fan favorite in the Criminal Minds fandom and one we always look forward to seeing each week on new episodes. We got the opportunity to talk with Vangsness about the new season, cast coming and going, and her other upcoming projects. Check out everything she had to say and then tune in September 28th for the new season.

Kirsten Vangsness

KRISTIN: You play one of TV’s favorite characters, Penelope Garcia. From day one Garcia has won over the hearts of everyone who has watched Criminal Minds. What has it been like for you to become this character year in and year out for 11 seasons, going on 12.

KIRSTEN: Before I had this Criminal Minds gig I never played a part longer than the run of a play so…6 weeks? Now I’ve been playing the same character for over a decade! It truly doesn’t feel that long at all because Penelope is a really sweet sweater to put on, if a character was a sweater, which it kind of is in that Garcia and I are energetically really close but we are truly different people.

KRISTIN: There have been quite a few changes over the years as we watched some original characters go and new ones be introduced. This past season Shemar Moore, who played Derek Morgan, bowed out. And now we know Thomas Gibson will no longer be on for season 12. How are the remaining characters going to overcome those losses, because they are huge heartbreaks for fans watching?

KIRSTEN: It’s rough on everyone to be sure, and I wish I had a beautiful clean answer for you. I don’t know who will overcome losses, some losses aren’t meant to be overcome, but all losses make for good stories and good character development and all the jazz that makes a show compelling and watchable. The best parts of any story to me are the unexpected things, and we have really imaginative, smart writers— I can’t wait to see what they make with the ingredients they have on hand.

KRISTIN: We are now entering season 12 of Criminal Minds. It seems that after so many seasons it would be hard to find fresh new material, but you all up the ante every year. How is season 12 going to one up the previous seasons and what can fans expect?

KIRSTEN: First we have a whole gaggle of bad guy/gal unsubs that have busted out of prison in last year’s season finale and they have been wreaking all kinds of icky havoc. Secondly, and most importantly we have Aisha Tyler now AS A SERIES REGULAR and Paget Brewster is BACK and and and!!! Adam Rodriguez is now on our television program and although Garcia is NOT pleased at all about it, Kirsten sure is as he is a complete delight to work with. This is the first time we have more ladies than dudes too and it’s magical. It’s a new mix of folks plus the lovely regulars of Joe and MGG and AJ. The combination of us all acting is very pleasurable to perform, I hope that translates when folks watch it. Oh and I almost forgot that I am co-writing episode 1213 this year and…I can’t tell you anything except it’s kind of a big deal.

KRISTIN: We have seen Garcia go through ups and downs on a relationship aspect. Any hopes we will see her settle down officially this season?

KIRSTEN: Oh Penelope. She’s a wild near-sighted horse that hasn’t found her whisperer…or maybe she’s not meant to have just ONE love. She’s such a weird little angel. I don’t know…I don’t think the word “settle” is in her dictionary. I do think she will have adventures this year. I hope romantic. She has a crush on Tara, that’s just obvious to me but they work too close together….

KRISTIN: Adam Rodriguez has been cast as a new series regular. What is he going to bring to the group?

KIRSTEN: Besides his piercing liquid eyes that melt one’s soul, you mean? Adam has this natural vibe of being street smart mixed with smart-smart mixed with confidence and kindness and that comes out in his work. If he was a drink I would order him.

KRISTIN: You told us all at San Diego Comic Con that Paget Brewster is going to make some reappearances in Season 12 as Emily Prentiss. Any other details you can tell us about her characters arc this season?

KIRSTEN: That she’s luminous and brilliant and I love her madly. All the women on Criminal Minds are such strong, supportive, interesting creatures and Paget being here just feels like such privilege. Also she saves the day many times thus far in episodes she’s been on and she was in Garcia’s office for three scenes already which makes for a really blissful day.

KRISTIN: Stepping away from Criminal Minds for a moment, I know you also do a lot of theater work. Anything on that front you can tell us about? Any projects?

I am in the middle of creating a web series I am quite excited about called ALL KINDS. My soul needed a weird creative outlet and this web series is what is happening. I am also putting up a new one person show later in the year.

KRISTIN: What other film projects of yours should we be on the lookout for?

KIRSTEN: I am in a wildly creative film called DAVE MADE A MAZE that comes out soon as well as another one that is super funny and strange called DANI AND DEVINE MEET THE APOCALYPSE and the feature that I exec produced and star in KILL ME, DEADLY is out on iTunes and Amazon for your viewing pleasure!

KRISTIN: And last, for those who do not know, where can they keep up with you and your work? Social media or a website?

KIRSTEN: I am found on the twitter @vangsness and instagram @kirstenvangsness

KRISTIN: Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk with us. We are looking forward to season 12! Haven’t missed an episode yet and not about to start now!

I love my job sooooo much and without you watching it I wouldn’t have it! Thank you!!!

I don’t know about all of you, but I’m completely stoked about the new season of Criminal Minds and all of Vangsness’ upcoming projects! Such an incredible actress! I am sure they are all going to be fantastic! Tune in September 28th on CBS for all new episodes. Sign up for CBS All Access if you do not have a cable subscriptions. Also make sure to follow Kirsten Vangsness on her above listed social media sites to stay tuned to all her projects. You can also tweet us @NerdProbsBlog as you watch the new episodes!

About Kristin Downer

Super Mom and Awesomely Nerdy Lady who can’t stand to sit still. Delving into the online world I ran a successful online radio channel and blog that brought fans up close and personal with their favourite music, television and movie stars. Now, with my hilariously nerdy partners in crime, we are hiding our nerdyness no more! Twitter: @Kristin_Downer

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  1. I will be watching CM on 12 season for I love it, my sis-in-law told me about the show, I’ve been watching ever sence.

    • does garcia have a facebook

    • Until Virgil Williams receives the same treatment as Thomas Gibson, a whole lot of fans will not be watching. Take a look at the Thomas Gibson Facebook page to see peoples reactions. None of us approves of violence, but Virgil Williams, by all reports, is no angel and was just pushing for a fight, bragging afterward that he “got Thomas Gibson fired.” CBS and ABC can do whatever they want, but the fans can also do what they want. And they don’t like what happened, and lots and lots of us are saying “No Hotch, no watch.”

      • Sherrie Ann Rivera

        Exactly, that writer needs to be fired too, or Hotch brought back! Derek gone, now Hotch that is just too much. I am glad that Emily is back and sorry that I will not get to see her since I will not be watching without Hotxh.

      • Hurting the show by not watching is not going to help. Thomas Gibson

  2. I love the cast “family” on Criminal Minds. I don’t like the fact that members keep leaving or killed off. Thomas Gibson WAS my favorite character. I loved the relationship beteeen Penelope and Derek. Now, it’s like watching a different show. I feel too many changes have taken place for the show to continue with high ratings. Not looking forward to season 12 at all. Besides owning all the previous dvds, I watch reruns on Netflix all the time. I don’t anticipate the purchase of season 12. I, as a die hard fan of the show, don’t want to invest my time getting used to new characters; just to watch the show fall apart at the end of the season.
    Too many changes have taken place, and as a fan, I am disappointed. Kirsten, Mathew, Joe and AJ, I wish you the best!! I don’t regret watching the past 11 seasons, but for me….not sure I will continue watching season 12. Sad, because I loved CM!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Although I am sorry to see the familiar faces go, I just can’t wait for season 12 to begin. I hope romance is in the air for both Garcia and Reid. She, a man that will treat her with respect, and for Reid, a girl who will last/live longer than a couple of episodes. Is Amber Heard available for an episode or two? I loved Adam Rodriguez on CSI : Miami so I’m anxiously awaiting his arrival on CM. Aisha and Paget will knock it out of the ballpark when they return.
    Anyway, I’m excited to see how the writers go about recapturing the escaped unsubs.

  4. Until Virgil Williams receives the same treatment as Thomas Gibson, I will not be watching. I don’t believe in violence, but by all reports Williams was “agressivelyon” pursuing Gibson after Gibson walked away, continuing to talk the way he had been which had caused Gibson to walk away. Then Williams reportedly was bragging that he “got Thomas Gibson fired.” Nice guy. So why wasn’t Williams suspended as well? And why go as far as firing Gibson? Seems a bit extreme for an incident in which both parties seem to have some responsibility. The fans of Criminal Minds are not stupid and can figure things out, especially when everyone is posting things on social media. Take a look at the Thomas Gibson page on Facebook, see what the fans have to say. Very strongly they are saying ? No Hotch, no watch.” I predict that season 12 will be the last, if it even makes it through the season. You’ve also punished the rest of the regular cast of Criminal Minds, because they will lose their jobs when the season loses most of it’s viewers. I’m guessing you have a gag order on the cast and crew. Is that so the truth doesn’t come out? This is a sad day for CBS and ABC.

  5. Looks like the powers that be fed her a script of politically correct bullshit! No one has the guts to stand up for Thomas Gibson, probably because they are afraid of losing their jobs too! TG stood up for all of the women in the cast for higher pay. He stood up for the writers during a strike, one of which could have been the bully who got him fired! We all know the elephant in the room but no one will admit it! No Hotch/No Watch! We don’t want the show to end; we want Thomas Gibson back!

  6. I read this thinking that maybe she’ll mention Thomas Gibson, but no. Thomas Gibson is as talented as he is good looking, you won’t find a better actor on tv than this man himself. He is irreplaceable as HOTCH. I feel bad for him as it appeared as though the people whom he stood up for isn’t able to do the same for him. She states that they have initiative and smart writers, is she talking about VW? I guess she supports or has to support him, he is a producer and she needs to be able to have a job. Thomas has put his “heart and soul” into this program and his passion for his character is apparent when you watch him on screen. VW needs to be accountable for his part. CBS/ABC and CM producers, need to do something about this to make it right. It’s funny how I use to love Paget but when I heard that she was going to replace Thomas, I had a change of heart and now I hear that they had hired someone to replace Thomas, so it’s true that he will be off forever. The fact is, fans will never like whoever replaces Thomas, and it only angers us when you continue not to hear our cries to get him back. #NoHotchNoWatch #WeSupportThomasGibson #WeLoveThomasGibson

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