Saturday, March 13, 2010


"The Fight" -- Agent Hotchner (Thomas Gibson, right) and his BAU team join forces with a separate group of BAU operatives led by Agent Sam Cooper (special guest star Forest Whitaker, left) while investigating a string of murders in San Francisco, on CRIMINAL MINDS, Wednesday, April 7 (9:00-10:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Photo: Monty Brinton/CBS ©2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.

LOS ANGELES — For every dead body that bobs up on a TV crime drama these days, there’s a movie star to solve the case.

The latest example? Academy Award winner Forest Whitaker, who says it’s no mystery why he signed to star in a spinoff of the hit procedural Criminal Minds.

“They approached me at the right time — I have two children who are 11 and 13, and I want to see them,” says Whitaker, who also has two older children, ages 18 and 19. “I don’t see boundaries like other people do. I’ll do whatever. I’ll do a video. I’ll go direct. I just like to create. And I’m having a great time on the show.”

Although Whitaker has dabbled in television before with memorable stints on ER and The Shield, the Criminal Minds spinoff will mark his first time as a series headliner. He’s hardly alone.

He joins a number of other film stars who have leapt to the small screen in the past decade, erasing the once-significant line that used to divide the two mediums. Among them: Kiefer Sutherland (24), Charlie Sheen (Two and a Half Men), Holly Hunter (Saving Grace), Chris O’Donnell (NCIS: Los Angeles) and Gary Sinise (CSI: New York).

Still, Whitaker insists his new job — despite the lengthy commitment — doesn’t signal an end to his versatile film career in front of or behind the camera. “Sometimes I think, 'Am I going to have enough discipline? Am I going to be disciplined enough to get up and write when I need to?’ Otherwise, when I’m doing it, it’s a blast — I won’t do as many movies. I’ll do one a year; I’ll try not to do two. So one movie a year — that’s what most of my peers do anyway.”

As for how the Criminal Minds spinoff will distinguish itself, Whitaker, who just finished work on the pilot, explains this new group of profilers is more “clandestine” than those viewers are accustomed to following.

“Our group, we are behavioural analysts, but I don’t follow rules. My character, Sam Cooper, came back to this unit only if he could operate without rules.”

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