Season 9, Episode 16 “Gabby”. Written by Erica Messer and Jim Clemente. Directed by Thomas Gibson. I had the pleasure of working on CRIMINAL MINDS in January and the episode aired February 26, 2014. Below is the breakdown of working on the show.
I received a direct audition notification from casting and auditioned on December 13th. The part was initially in the breakdowns for a 40s Asian lawyer. That obviously changed. The part was of the character Austin Leland, a public defender who is called in to represent a suspect. The scene consisted of a five line exchange with Aaron Hotchner (Thomas Gibson). The Criminal Minds auditions are held on the same lot the show shoots their interior scenes I got the call a couple of hours after the audition that I booked it and it would shoot in January.
The Table Read
The table read was about ten days before I was scheduled to shoot. The guest actors were invited on the lot and we sat around with the series regulars and production crew as we read the script. It is a quick forty-five minutes as the reading is scheduled during the lunch break as they are still in the middle of shooting the previous episode. Many one hour television shows do not do table reads so it was nice to have the moment to meet everyone and see the faces to all the roles.
After the table read, I had a quick costume fitting about a week before the day I was scheduled to shoot. My call was for MLK day Monday, January 20th. Arrived at my call time of 9am on the same lot that the audition was on. I settled into my dressing room, had some breakfast and there was plenty of time before I was scheduled to be on set. I had two short scenes to shoot and the call sheet had them about half way down the list of scenes due to shoot that day. I was called to set about 11am and the cast/crew were in the middle of shooting the previous scheduled scene. In all the bustling around, Gibson said hello from across video village. He said thanks for coming and they would be at my scene momentarily. I took a seat and watched from the monitor. I was able to catch up with Jim Clemente a little before they were ready to move on to my first scene.
My first scene consisted of one line in reaction to Gibson’s character confronting my client with a new piece of evidence. There were only about three set-ups and it all happened fairly quickly. Like all one-hour dramas the pace is fast as they have to shoot an average eight pages a day. There were about three to four takes each and that took us to lunch. After lunch, there was another scene shot and then it was my second and final scene. The final scene consisted of a two camera set-up on me and the actor Tysen Fraker, playing Ian Little. In viewing the final cut, I was bummed that two of my lines were off camera, but when I saw the two camera set-up I had a feeling that was going to happen. My character was giving exposition about the other person in the room. It made sense that instead of showing me they would show that character.
I think the biggest lessoned learned was the approach I took at the audition. As an actor one is naturally excited about an audition, but that excitement was not going to fit the tone of the scene. As a co-star you are there to give information. Therefore, with the motivation of this being a small part of this public defender’s long day, it caused me to settle into the scene and keep it simple and straight-forward. For the character this is something he does multiple times a day. It helped me to not over play the scene.
Another lesson learned is that breakdowns change all the time. I saw the original breakdown for the role when it was calling for a 40s Asian man and dismissed it as I did not fit the description. All this to say, the change was not made public and probably due to this last minute change, casting decided not to release a breakdown but call people they knew in directly. I read for this show over a year before and had not been called in since then. It was to the point that I thought maybe they had forgotten about me. It was clear that they were waiting to bring me in for the right role.