Since it wouldn’t be CRIMINAL MINDS season premiere without an interview featuring the show’s newest cast member (Note: We kid because we love!), the subject of “Today’s TV Addict Top 5″ is none other than actress Jeanne Tripplehorn. Tripplehorn — who ups the show’s female quotient following last season’s exit of Paget Brewster’s Emily Prentiss — joins the show as linguistics expert Alex Blake. We recently caught up with her to find out what attracted her to the role, how her character will integrate herself into the BAU and why playing Agent Alex Blake is a cake walk in contrast to her five seasons spent on BIG LOVE.
CRIMINAL MINDS is a very different show from your previous role on BIG LOVE, what attract you to the show?
Jeanne Tripplehorn: That’s why I love being an actor, you get to play all different kinds of characters. Alex Blake, my character on CRIMINAL MINDS is a complete 180 from what I did on BIG LOVE for five seasons but that’s what keeps my job so interesting. I love Alex’s single mindedness, her intellect, how protective she is. She has a hard shell, but I think she’s incredibly altruistic. She wants to do well by her fellow man and woman but at the same time she’s incredible driven and wants to be successful.
Is Alex’s single mindedness going to be an achilles heel when it comes to integrating herself within the already tight knit BAU?
Alex is a team player but she doesn’t mince words. She’s really smart, she knows it and she doesn’t mess around. She could probably use a little more charm, but her intellect, her intelligence, that’s her opener into the team… which she fits into really quite well.
According to reports, your character already has a connection with Matthew Gray Gubler’s Reid. Can you elaborate on what kind of relationship the two will have going forward?
It’s turning out to be a really deep friendship rather than a romantic one. The writers have taken their relationship and turned it into a really sweet relationship between two unlikely people. I mean obviously they’re both brainiacs and both incredibly intelligent, that said it’s kind of unexpected. I knew the writers wanted us to work closely together, with our shared history in academia, but it’s taken a really sweet turn and that’s all I’m going to say!
Has it been difficult adjusting to the often harrowing and often tragic subject matter the show delves into on a week-in-and-week-out basis?
Even though there is a great deal of violence and a new crime every week, the characters are so used to it which is something I experienced when I started the show. At the start of the season, FBI agents came in and spoke with the writers who invited me to sit in. For the first forty-five minutes I thought I was going to throw up when they went through these real cases and serial killer histories, truly I was sick to my stomach. That said, after about an hour I started to get used to it and I thought, let’s just expand that over eighteen to twenty years, which is where my character would be for the most part and you sort of become immune to the violence and desensitized to a certain extent. Curiously enough, the emotional toll of doing this show as an actor verses the drama on BIG LOVE is a cake walk because the stakes for Alex versus the intensely personal stakes that the family on BIG LOVE went through are so much less.
Now that you have a few episodes under your belt, what has been the most surprising aspect of shooting the series?
The aspect I’m truly surprised about — given that the show is heading into its eight season — is the fun and warmth that is around the set. CRIMINAL MINDS is a smooth running machine. After seven seasons they’ve worked out all the kinks, we have a lot of laughs on set, and it’s just fun to go to work. The cast, the crew, I’m not a prankster but I actually found myself googling “pranks” the other day. I’m very alert when I’m around set, opening my trailer door, I’m very on point at work because I don’t know what’s going to come my way!
CRIMINAL MINDS airs Wednesday at 9PM on CBS (Tuesdays at 10PM on CTV in Canada) and stars Thomas Gibson, Shemar Moore, Joe Mantegna, Matthew Gray Gubler, Kersten Vangsness and A.J. Cook. Catch up on past episodes you may have missed for free online at clicktowatch.tv
Additional Reporting By Tiffany Vogt.