Zach Gilford is embracing the dark side in his new role. The Friday Night Lights alum plays Elias Voit, the show’s UnSub with a dark side and obsession with death. During the pandemic, Elias began to build a network of serial killers, and the BAU is now facing its biggest threat yet. HollywoodLife spoke EXCLUSIVELY with Zach about how the revival series compares to the original show.
“We go home with the UnSub. They’ve said to me before. They’re like, we’ve never gone home with them. I’ve said this a few times, but these monsters are humans, and I don’t mean like let’s be sensitive to them. But they need to live a life,” Zach explained. “They can’t just be killing, murdering people all day, every day. They have jobs, they have families, or they all have parents. So it’s just kind of like who are they when they’re not doing their evil stuff? And how do they navigate between being a person in the world and being this monster in the shadows?”
For Zach, joining the cast of the Criminal Minds revival was a no-brainer for him. “I mean, when Criminal Minds asks you to be involved in their show, you say yes. It’s such an amazing, iconic show. I didn’t even know it had the fan base that it did,” he said.
Criminal Minds originally came to an end in February 2020 just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. The revival is taking place in a post-pandemic world and has moved from CBS to Paramount+. “We love this world. But now we get to do it a little differently. We get to elevate it a bit and to be involved in that is so cool. To be the UnSub that they’re tracking the whole season… I mean, it sounds cheesy to say it’s an honor, but it really is,” he added.
This is by far one of Zach’s darkest roles to date. He revealed his method for playing this role and any other role. “My preparation is — not because I’m lazy it’s just because it’s my method — I read the script,” he told HollywoodLife. “And I don’t mean that sarcastically, I read the script when I first got it. There’s always changes. I read it again like the night before we shot it. I can memorize lines really fast, and then you find so much when you actually get on set. You’re actually working with the director and the other actors.
He continued, “If you’ve made all your decisions before you got there, you’re not actually a very considerate actor because then you’re just navigating the scene and not letting anyone else contribute.” What I love about this business is it’s all about collaboration. Everyone’s thumbprint is on it, so I think I’m so lucky to be working with writers who have thought these characters through in these arcs. They’re so collaborative that anytime I bump into something, they’ll stop and be like, ‘Let’s talk it through. Let’s figure it out. Let’s make it better.’ And I feel like we always get there. It’s just been it’s so great to work with.”
Criminal Minds: Evolution will feature the returns of original cast members Joe Mantegna, AJ Cook, Kirsten Vangsness, Aisha Tyler, Adam Rodriguezand Paget Brewster. The 10-episode season will premiere with two episodes on Thanksgiving Day, exclusively on Paramount+. Following the premiere, new episodes will drop weekly on Thursdays, with a midseason finale on December 15. The show will then return on January 12 with new episodes.