Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Are Kirsten Vangsness And Adam Rodriguez From Criminal Minds: Evolution Friends In Real Life? – Exclusive

On "Criminal Minds," Penelope Garcia and Luke Alvez have a fun but complicated relationship. At the end of Season 15, which aired on CBS in 2020, the pair — played by Kirsten Vangsness and Adam Rodriguez — were on the cusp of dating after years of frenemy flirting.

Now, over two years later, "Criminal Minds" has returned, albeit with a slightly new title — "Criminal Minds: Evolution" — and a new home, Paramount+, on which the show airs Thursdays. When we see Garcia and Alvez again, the two have gone on a date but still haven't quite established whether they want to explore a romantic relationship.

While the "Criminal Minds" cast makes it no secret that they're a tight-knit team, Garcia and Alvez's sometimes shaky relationship may raise questions about whether Vangsness and Rodriguez are indeed friends in real life. During an exclusive interview with Looper, Vangsness opened up about what happens behind the scenes when Garcia and Alvez aren't bickering like an old married couple.

Vangsness and Rodriguez tease each other on set

After one dinner date that takes place off-screen, Garcia and Alvez reunite on "Criminal Minds: Evolution" under the guise of working together again, which leads to some ball-busting banter. In real life, Vangsness' dynamic with Rodriguez is somewhat similar, she admits.

"When he started on the show, I organically hated his guts when I would be in my Penelope self," says Vangsness. "Just hate. Hate everything he does. Disdain. And it works really well."

But like their characters onscreen, Vangsness and Rodriguez's friendship has "evolved" over time, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"What's nice is that during the pandemic, Adam and I became closer to the point that we were having dinners with our partners and stuff like that," says Vangsness. "So we are close, and we've been doing a lot of scenes together in this series. I don't want to give anything away, but we do a lot of stuff together and we bond in different ways. No one is going to be able to guess — trust me. But you'll be delighted, I think."

As for their on-set dynamic, Vangsness says the teasing spills over into real life.

"He loves to tease," she says. "He's a teaser and I'm very gullible, but he teaches me that it's okay. We spend so much time before takes being like, 'Could you try to be a better actor in this? Could you maybe give me something?' It translates because when we start acting, we understand that our intention is to not throw each other as actors, but as characters. I'm going to try to push [his] buttons. We spend a lot of time doing that, and it's really fun."

"Criminal Minds: Evolution" airs Thursdays on Paramount+.