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Matthew Gray Gubler Says Criminal Minds' Spencer Reid Was Originally 'Like Data From Star Trek'

The CBS procedural "Criminal Minds" became a big hit over the course of its run, amassing 15 seasons under its belt before it ended in 2020. The show's popularity then led to a revival in 2022 on Paramount+, under the name "Criminal Minds: Evolution."

One of the key ingredients to the show's success has been Dr. Spencer Reid. The character is a profiler with the Behavioral Analysis Unit of the FBI, with an IQ of 187 and an eidetic memory, skills that make him invaluable to the team despite his young age.

The character is played by Matthew Gray Gubler and became a fan favorite during his time on the show. Gubler has appeared in over 300 episodes, becoming the longest-running cast member on the show until Kirsten Vangsness surpassed him with her appearances on "Criminal Minds: Evolution."

In an interview, however, Gubler revealed that his casting in the role was far from a slam dunk and in fact took some convincing, as the creative team had envisioned the character more akin to the "Star Trek" character Data.

The producers felt Gubler was all wrong but invited him back for more auditions anyway

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Matthew Gray Gubler spoke about the audition process to get the role of Dr. Spencer Reid on "Criminal Minds" and revealed that he was almost rejected for the part.

Regarding the initial audition for the character, Gubler said that while the feedback on his audition was positive, his choices on how to play the character went against what the creative team had in mind. He explained that the team's mental image of Dr. Reid was more akin to the stoic, practical nature of Data from "Star Trek: The Next Generation," played by Brent Spiner. Gubler, however, was "too gregarious," and the team was worried he "would bring too much weirdness" to the role, he said.

However, Gubler impressed the team enough that they asked him to return for a second audition, where they repeated the same thing: His performance was excellent in a vacuum but went completely against the image of the character they had in their heads.

Gubler's work again impressed the team enough for a callback, and after four or five auditions, the show's creative team finally decided to cast him as Dr. Reid.