'Criminal Minds' star Kirsten Vangsness calls A.J. Cook's firing 'a galvanizing experience'

criminal-mindsImage Credit: Monty Brinton/CBS; Cliff Lipson/CBSIf you thought Criminal Minds scene-stealer Kirsten Vangsness was suffering from a case of survivor’s guilt in the wake of costar A.J. Cook’s high profile dismissal, well, you’d be right. Making matters worse, Cook’s departure coincided with the announcement that Vangsness’ character—kooky computer tech Penelope—would be featured on both Minds and its spin-off, Suspect Behavior. While Vangsness maintains that her promotion had “nothing to do with” Cook’s exit, she concedes the timing of the two events was unfortunate. “It was a galvanizing experience—[they] just fired my friend,” Vangsness sighs. “It was a total shock. It absolutely affects morale. It sucks.”

For more of my interview with delightfully dippy Vangsness, scroll down after the jump and press play.

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  • AJ fan

    I still can’t believe that they fired AJ. I started watching the show because of AJ & I won’t be watching it when she’s gone. It won’t be the same without her. I hope she lands another job soon. She’s a great actress.

    • Cheery

      I don’t believe anything Vangsness says; she’s definitely been put up to do damage control. And are we to believe that a show facing financial difficulties fired one actress (and is the process of firing a second) but expanded K. Vangs role without any monetary compensation? Right, that’s a load of crap.

      Same for the other actors on the show, for that matter. I doubt there was any kind of salary freeze. AJ was fired, Paget had to negotiate a reduced role (and pay cut), while everyone else probably received raises. Way to go CBS, ya selfish SOBs.

      • Julz

        It’s two different shows with two different budgets.

      • zuel

        Hi Hot, Lets get it on.

      • bklynny

        Right. CBS is looking for an out from the BS decisions they executed. And they also claimed financial problems with managing Cold Case leading to its cancellation. Yet they can shell out 2 million to a deadbeat.
        GMAFB. CBS is losing its momentum with me. The NBC lineup is looking good with Undercovers, Chase, Outlaw, The Cape.

      • bklynny

        Next year will be Paget’s final season, and they will hire a replacement for the female role.
        Anyway, I won’t be watching.
        They crapped on this show like they did Criminal Intent with their cast dynamic.

      • Mary

        Wow Cheery, Vangsness isn’t the one who fired Cook. You can’t blame her because the decision makers wanted to go in another direction. She’s in a tough position. Anyone with half a brain would know that someone doing damage control doesn’t say “It was a total shock. It absolutely affects morale. It sucks.” They would more likely give the “. . .moving in another direction and while she’s my friend I understand. . .” BS. Furthermore, sometimes in the grown up world your friends get kicked in the head while you have good things happen. What do you want, for her to quit a job she has every right to have just because her friend you like more was fired?

      • garciafangirl21

        hey cheery, you dont have any right to say those things about kirsten. if you dont like the show anymore dont watch it. dont sit here and bad mouth kirsten because she doesnt lie.

      • lorna

        KV bugs me anyway.

      • haha

        dont you feel silly shes back

      • taz

        all you people is bull because nobody like a.j any ways WE LIKE KRISTEN VANGSNESS

      • MELA

        i agree with taz your awesome keep it up grul
        KRISTEN VANGSNESS ROCKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • stacymac

      MAD….Very mad! It’s one thing for an actor to leave the show on their own, but to let them go is a totally crappy thing to do! I love the Criminal Minds cast, past and present. To let go any of the favorite characters, how do the Execs expect fans to keep watching like everything will be okay. It’s definitely a great show in itself, but they make it harder for a fan to be supportive when they change up and throw something in like this from nowhere??? Hmmm….wonder if I’ll still tune in come Season Premier? *undecided*

    • lorna

      I am a new fan. Stupid to get rid of Aj Cook. I don’t like Paget Brewster, she was a horrible addition. Why did they get rid of the original brunette actress? The execs. on this show need a butt kicking.

      • Jess

        the original actress left because she wanted to….and i love paget

      • Marie

        I have watched this show from Day 1, and Paget Brewster is awesome. Much better than that woman she replaced. I really didn’t mind her (I don’t remember her name anymore) leaving, but A J Cook?!? OMG I’m really upset, and if they touch Paget I’m definitely striking it off my list of shows to watch.

    • Sydney

      She is coming back in season 7! On the season finale in season 6,at the end she said she’s coming back!

  • Abi

    Won’t be returning for CM in the fall after what they did to AJ, but God I do love Kirsten an awful lot <3

  • Adam

    Isn’t this character just a cheap Abby from NCIS rip off?

    • Bridget

      KV’s character has more genuine heart, imo. Abby can be extremely obnoxious, whereas Garcia is easier to handle in large doses.

      • Niix Starkyller

        …then you’re not watching NCIS enough. To talk about Abby like she doesn’t have great, honkin’ gobs of heart is Criminal in my Mind.

      • ann

        “Criminal in my Mind”? Oh my god. You’re an idiot.

      • Me

        Geeze, Ann, get a grip.
        Apparently that was too clever for you.

      • annie

        Are you serious? I can’t stand watching a middle aged woman trying to look cool when she looks like a old bag lady.

      • Joe

        Abby is gothic whereas KV is simply a computer geek / nerd. HUGE difference…

        But yeah, sad to see AJ gone, she’s so hot and been a fan since Tru Calling. However, I surely am still going to watch Criminal Minds. Hands down the best crime/police type of drama on TV.

    • Kvivik

      Difference is Abby is in forensic sciences and happens to be a computer geek. Garcia is hacker and the only forensics she does is tracking bad guys through the internet. Eric from NCIS:LA is closer to Garcia than Abby is.

    • thorswitch

      No, not really. In addition to what Kvivik mentioned, Garcia is much more grounded and has a lot more trouble with the dark aspects of her job than Abby does. Also,they’re both really supportive of their colleagues, but Abby’s more willing to *ask* for support from them than Penelope is from hers. (Of course, Penelope will accept support when it’s offered – especially from Morgan.) Obviously, they do have a lot in common, but even if you don’t take their differing job functions into account, they’re far from interchangeable.

    • Sue1

      I noticed similarities when I belatedly found both shows, in that they are unique individualists who help the primary investigators, but their expertise’s and personalities are quite different. I prefer Abby, but still love what Garcia brings to CM.
      Still VERY sorry to see AJ go, and I’m glad she’ll live on in reruns, which is where I watch the show most anyway.

    • Daryl

      She’s better than Abby.

      • annie


    • annie

      YES….you are so right!!! I love to watch Criminal Minds, but I absolutely can’t stand her. CBS should have killed off her character…she sucks!!!!

      • A.J. Monk

        They will keep her becaube her characier is very popular. That translates into money. Nothing more, nothing less. So get a grip.

    • Erin

      Hmmm…good point.

    • ree

      i totally agree. abby is a much better character. ncis is a much beterr show. criminal minds sucks, i don’t think the actors on that show have any chemistry.

    • Selena

      Yeah possible except NCIS and the whole cast suck something awful.

  • Olivia

    CM lost me when they got rid of AJ – stupid move CBS.

    • MEA

      I can do without AJ, but wish they’d replace Joe Mantegna. I find him tedious. Too pontificating.

      • Shazza

        I also find Joe Mantegna’s character to be tedious … plus he’ll always be Fat Tony from The Simpsons to me!

      • Me

        That’s really your problem, Shazza, not his. lol I like his character, it’s Hotch, who almost never changes expression, that I find occasionally boring.

      • zuel

        Me, Shazza is correct. And it’s YOUR PROBleM BEEEEEEEEAAACH

      • Suncatcher

        Joe Mantegna joined CM at a critical time following the trail of destruction left by Mandy Patinkin’s sudden departure. Mantegna is a gifted, award-winning actor who brought stability to the CM team and helped forge a new chemistry among the actors. There are no leading actors on CM -just a cohesive group of team players of which Mantegna is a crucial member. The CM team really like the Mantegna. So do I. Thanks, Joe!

      • greg e

        agree…they need to hire AJ back asap

      • Stephanie

        Suncatcher- are you a producer for the show? Or Joe himself?Your post read just like something a show runner would say in response to reporter’s questions about Joe Magtegna being brought onto the show. And he does suck. They should have let him go and left the rest of the cast alone.

      • Geishacat

        Hey MEA & Stephanie, Patinkin can out-pontificate Mantegna any day of the frackin’ week. At least Joe unlike Mandy – hasn’t called the fans “mentally disturbed”. Long live Rossi! Joe’s doing a great job IMHO. The bennies of a multi channel universe? If you don’t like one show, there’s always another channel to watch ….

      • Casey

        Thomas Gibson (Hotch) is a very wooden actor (in the mode of Richard Gere), sometimes when watching his characteristics are not that far removed form Greg in Dharma and Greg, he seems to not have much range at all.

      • JUNIT

        I think that he’s needed for the series. I think that he plays the sorta Obi-Wan role in the show. He acts as kinda a steady rock for the other characters. I guess the examples of this for me are the talk him and Hotch have in the first episode with Foyette where Hotch is offered to make the deal and he doesn’t and people die because of it. Another episode he does that in the episode with the demon possession and Emily Prentiss and him have a talk about the nature of evil. He has been there for nearly ever character; Reid during the whole Las Vegas ordeal, Morgan when his faith was shattered after Garcia was shot.

  • elle

    As soon as AJ went so did I. I don’t really like the others on their own. But I watched for the stories and the team dynamic. Now that has gone, so have I.

  • Jules

    I am extremely attracted to Kirsten Vangsness!

    • René De Beaumarchais

      Nothing wrong in liking bigger girls.

      • ann

        You could have just gone with “nothing wrong with liking blonde girls” or “nothing wrong with liking girls with glasses” or “nothing wrong with liking crazy chicks.” Interesting that you had to focus on her weight.

      • mark

        because that’s the most unattractive part about her. both conventionally and truthfully

      • Stephen

        Mark, just because YOU find women who are roughly the same size as skeletons attractive doesn’t make Kirsten unattractive. I guess you are familiar the concept of opinions? Its YOUR opinion Kirsten isn’t attractive; its MY opinion that she is.

      • Rumplestiltskin

        Have to say, to me, Garcia looks like a grown up Buffy from Family Affair. I keep waiting to see Mrs. Beasley sitting on her desk.

  • Matt

    The character, Penelope, is an insult and a joke.

    • mal

      you are a complete f-ing idiot.

      • Heather Feather

        Your point would be better made if you were civil.

      • ann

        Your point would be better made if your name wasn’t Heather Feather.

    • mela

      penelope is a good actress so stpo hateing

  • Marisa Pascual

    I feel that what CBS has got by those stupid dismissals is the breakup of one of the best ensemble cast of all TV shows. They have just drop a bomb and the set will never be the same. The members of the cast were friends, and some stupid exec or producer or whoever has made this stupid mistake has drop a bomb in a perfect show. May bad karma get them!

    • Anon

      Oh, please. She was the token cookie cutter slim, pretty blonde. Thankfully NCIS doesn’t follow that formula.

      • bklynny

        She was more than that, you jealous idiot. She multi-tasked being a field agent and a media liason, and held her own with the men.

      • Erin

        Actually I get what meh is saying and felt her character was rather meh too. Though I have watched a few recent epsiodes where they did develop her and give her a bit of depth. Such a shame, I could have grown to like her and I get why so many fans are now upset. If they offed her a few seasons ago not so many would have minded as back then she was just the cookie cutter blonde (IMO).

      • Chucky

        I happen to like her big beautiful body. Too bad she’s gay.

  • RobertH

    I’ve tried to watch CM but something better is usually on at the same time. With A.J out, CM is off my watch list for good. Shame on them. I wish A.J the best and I’m sure she’ll land on her feet somewhere else soon. She’s uber talented and oh yeah..HOT!

  • fed up

    I am done with Criminal Minds. Keep adding ultra liberal people who slam me becasue I dont agree with their views. Garaloser being added to the spinoff will also stop me from watching the reg version. if these producers want to bring on actors who rip half their viewers than thats great. I just wont watch. She can say what she wants and so can I. I personally dont care if you vote for Obama but when you call me a racist becasue I dont support him well she can go you know where

    • John


    • Liz

      and who someone voted for has what relevance to the story in the first place?

    • A.J. Monk

      You reps are becoming increasingly toxic. Now go find the right forum for your poison.

  • Trish

    It’s a tv show, stuff happens, get over yourselves! AJ Cook will find other work most likely better than CM. She’s talented and gorgeous, those go hand in hand in Hollywood.

    • sam

      You are so right. She is all you said, but no more CM for me. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Some 30 year old decided this I am sure.

  • Chappel

    I will no longer be watching Criminal Minds so not interested in the video clip. Can’t wait to see A.J. in her future projects. A woman as talented and beautiful as she is won’t be out of work long.

  • Kvivik

    I’m sad that they are splitting Garcia between the two teams. I was hoping for a new tech geek (ie Kevin Lynch) that SB could have on it’s own with a few crossovers between those two characters.
    This is definately the beginning of the end of CM.
    The only thing that might make me wish for more than this season is if Hotchner starts to live and loosen up again.

    • Amy

      Good idea!! Kevin should be the tech geek on the crossover, with occasional visits from Garcia. And he could continue to guest star on the original. I love Kirsten and am happy for her “promotion,” but it wasn’t necessary…your way is better!

  • Julz

    I really don’t understand all the super love for AJ. I like her but for me she was never a huge part of the show. I really don’t think I’ll miss her at all unless they bring in another person like they did when she was on maternity leave. That girl was terrible. I heart Kirsten.

    • Fisher

      But they are bringing in another person. CBS has already announced that they will be hiring a new actress for CM this season.

  • sam

    No More CM for me. Boo Bye

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