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Criminal Minds Roundtable Interview with Kirsten Vangsness and Beyond Borders’ Tyler James Williams at SDCC 2016

Criminal Minds will return to CBS this fall with its 12th season premiere on Wednesday September 28th at 9pm. The successful spin-off, Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders will return to CBS midseason for their second season. We sat down with stars Kirsten Vangsness and Tyler James Williams.

Kirsten Vangsness plays Penelope Garcia, FBI technical analyst, on Criminal Minds. Tyler James Williams plays FBI agent Russ Montgomery aka Monty, on Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders. Both Kirsten and Tyler are seasoned veterans when it comes to San Diego Comic Con. Tyler has come previously as part of The Walking Dead cast. They both talk of their love for Comic Con and how they are at least enjoying the press since they haven’t really had a chance to enjoy the real convention. Kirsten says, “Right now in an alternate reality we’re both dressed in costumes that makes us like 9 feet tall and breathe fire.” Tyler quips, “I enjoy watching other people enjoy comic con… That’s been fun.”

I then asked if they were to cosplay, who would they be? Kirsten laughs as she says, “One year I was dressed as Supergirl just because it was fun to do to sign autographs and to be Supergirl. But I dress up in costumes just on a Tuesday.” She goes on to say of course she would dress up, but she has one stipulation. “I need to wear something scantily clad because it’s so warm here.” Tyler adds, “Oh yeah that’s the thing. All of the things I would think of I would pass out because of heat stroke.” Kirsten replies, “I’m going to cosplay as Eve from the new testament, just because then I get to be naked.” Tyler laughs and continues, “I wonder if you could explain that on the police report. ‘I was cosplaying as Eve.’” The two clearly play very well off of one another.


Season 12 of Criminal Minds should be an interesting season for Kirsten’s character, Garcia. Garcia’s best friend in the Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU), Derek Morgan played by Shemar Moore, has left the show. When asked what Garcia’s life is going to be like with Derek leaving, Kirsten admits that she’s not really sure. “I think that there’s going to be a hole there forever. Adam Rodriguez is now on the show, not a replacement to Shemar [Moore] whatsoever. But he’s our guy now, and he is great. And there’s no replacement for Adam Rodriguez. It’s so nice because he’s that kind of a person, that kind of a character. Aisha Tyler is back. Paget Brewster is back for multiple episodes. I don’t know how she’s [Garcia] going to fare. It’ll be cool. I don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Kirsten then passes it over to Tyler to give us a little bit of what their second season will bring. He says, “We’re kicking right off. I guess in a way we are trying to introduce ourselves as well. We spent the whole first season just establishing the tone of the show and where everybody is. Now, we are really just introducing who these people are as people outside of their job and how that affects their job as well.”

I asked Tyler if they got to get more personal with each of the characters and if there was something that he wanted to explore with his character in particular. He responds, “Yeah we definitely got a lot more personal. For Monty specifically, we want to address what it’s like for a 20 year old to have to explain to families that their loved ones are either dead or dying or missing. And doing that every week, it takes a toll on somebody who is not all the way emotionally prepared for that yet. So we definitely wanted to explore that and also his relationship to everyone else. “


Since it’s Comic Con, fans are everywhere. Kirsten and Tyler recount some of their more interesting fan interactions. Kirsten says, “Two years ago I was here with my friend… My friend, Neil Gaiman, I was with him wandering through, which was like walking through the Vatican with the Pope.” She laughs about how it wasn’t really her fan experience, but it was still an interesting one. She goes on to describe a fan interaction that happened only moments before we sat down. “But the one I just had was, I was coming out of the car and a guy accidentally called me babygirl, which was delightful. Then he was struck with terror. Delightful.” Shemar Moore’s character, Derek Morgan, on Criminal Minds always would refer to Garcia as Babygirl. It’s not going to be the same with their interactions. But, if you ever run into Kirsten Vangsness and call her Babygirl, she will probably just laugh it off and enjoy the moment.

Tyler agrees with Kirsten in that he has seen some interesting fan interactions when he was with The Walking Dead cast. “Last year, I was here with The Walking Dead crew. And it was the same thing. Norman [Reedus] steps out of a car, and I’m almost positive six people passed out immediately.“ He goes on to recount another interaction. “Actually two years ago, I was here, before I was even announced I was on the show. Sam Jackson walks by. People go ‘Oh that’s nice, great.’ Andrew Lincoln walks by; again, another seven people pass out.” Kirsten laughs and replies, “I love what is a celebrity to nerds. It’s a whole other lexicon, which I am part of and I’m delighted.”

Ending on a fun note, I asked what traits or characteristics they would want in real life from their characters. Kirsten knows immediately. “I want to be able to type. I don’t know how to type. I would really love to type.” Tyler’s answer is equally as funny. “I would like to know things about things. As an actor, I feel like I only know things about acting and nothing else. Literally nothing else. If you ask me right now, ‘Hey go shingle a roof.’ No idea.” Kirsten tries to help him out by saying, “You’re a drummer; you can drum!” Tyler quips back, “But even that…  it’s not real world applicable. See Monty knows things about adulting and life. I would like to know things.” Tyler adds, “If there’s a drum circle, I’m in on that. If you need someone to do your taxes, don’t call me!”

Tune in this TV season for more Criminal Minds and Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders on CBS to catch more from Kirsten Vangsness and Tyler James Williams.

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Jenny Lampe

Jenny Lampe

I'm a TV and movie enthusiast. I enjoy all genres and try to keep up to date on the latest hits. Follow me on Twitter at @JennyLampe.