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Paget Brewster on ‘Criminal Minds’ series finale: ‘It’s an ending, but it’s not an ending’

Paget Brewster on "Criminal Minds."CBS

Paget Brewster thinks that people from Massachusetts have a “flinty” sense of humor, akin to cops, EMTs, and firefighters.

“It’s as if they’ve faced death every day,” she says. “Maybe we have, I don’t know. I feel like that really dry survivalist sense of humor is ingrained in people from Massachusetts.”

The Concord native has made a career out of playing characters with a similar verve, most notably Emily Prentiss on the CBS procedural “Criminal Minds,” which recently kicked off its 15th and final season.

Brewster, 50, has portrayed the sharp-witted F.B.I. agent on-and-off since 2006, when she joined the show part-way through Season 2. She also appeared on “Friends,” starred opposite John Stamos on “Grandfathered,” helped lead the final season of “Community,” and become a popular recurring narrator on “Drunk History.”


The Globe caught up with Brewster to discuss the legacy of “Criminal Minds” and her next role, as a sassy nun on CBS’s “Blood & Treasure.”

Q. How does it feel to have something that’s been a part of your life for 14 years come to an end?

A. It’s bittersweet. We had a great time but it’s also a grueling day, shooting a drama. In a way, it’s exciting that now we are all getting to go do other shows and try other parts and audition and see what television is like, because you sort of live underground when you’re making a show like this. We had a great time and would laugh all day, but the days are really long and you don’t sort of have a life outside of it. So it feels good to come out of the bunker and see the sky and see what’s going on out in the world and see your friends and family. But we do miss each other and we know that we had the best possible environment.


Q. Can you share any of your favorite memories about the series?

A. People have come and gone, and some main cast members have been there the whole [time], so we’ve sort of grown up together. People have gotten married and gotten divorced and gotten engaged and had kids. It’s such a large chunk of time for anyone at any age. You spend 90 percent of your life with those people. You finish work, you go home, you go to sleep, you get up, you go back to work. So yeah, it’s a lot. And we were lucky that we like each other and respect each other. We all know each other so well and have supported each other through cancer and divorce and the loss of parents. It’s a profound relationship of depending on each other and we’re really grateful for that.

Q. I know that you met your husband through the show and are incredibly close with the cast.

A. It’s so bizarre to look at such a long time span. I met my now husband [musician and composer Steve Damstra], who is friends with Matthew Gray Gubler (Dr. Spencer Reid), and we fell in love and he moved in and then we got married and Gubler officiated our wedding and and everybody came to the reception. It’s a long period of time in our lives. And even for Daniel Henney (Special Agent Matt Simmons) and Adam Rodriguez (Luke Alvez), who joined just in the past couple of years, they were just immediately embraced and sucked up into the madness that is our probably codependent cast relationship. I mean, we talk every day. We text each other to a probably unhealthy degree.


Q. You’ve said in the past that after you’ve finished one project you like to do a big pivot to another type of character. If you could dream up a role right now, what would it be?

A. I love playing a [expletive] and I think I’m pretty good at it. My face is kind of austere. I can speak pretty quickly and cuttingly. I like being mean. I think it would be really fun to be a mean, French — because I can speak enough French to do a French accent and that makes everything sound funnier — former dominatrix or the older spy lady who trains young spy girls. In a comedy, though. Have you heard of anything casting like that? [Laughs.]

Q. Throughout the past few seasons of “Criminal Minds” a lot of your costars began directing or writing episodes. Is this something that you’d ever be interested in?

A. I’ve written a couple of things and I’ve gone out and I’ve pitched shows and none of them have come to fruition and it’s really frustrating. So, I’ve realized I don’t have the fire and ambition to keep it up. I think I’m just a gun for hire and I’m OK with that. Unless now you’ve done something to my brain and I have to write my own show where I’m a bitchy French ex-dominatrix, because I’m starting to really like that character.


Q. What can you tell us about the series finale?

A. We will see some characters from the past. I think there are a lot of little Easter eggs or little hidden treats for people who have been with us the whole time. I love that as a fan of shows, when I go, “I know what that sweater is from!” I love that stuff so much, so we have some of that. Listen, it’s really hard. It’s hard to have one episode that ends a 15-year journey. It’s just hard, so I don’t think everyone is happy with endings all the time. People can become really critical of it, and I hope that doesn’t happen. I hope that people who watch the show are satisfied and feel like they know their team still exists. It’s an ending, but it’s not an ending. I’m not trying to sound like Yoda.

Interview was edited and condensed. Lillian Brown can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @lilliangbrown.