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Joe Mantegna Has No Problem Jumping In And Out Of Character On Criminal Minds: Evolution - Exclusive

There's no argument that Joe Mantegna is an old pro at acting, having been in the business since the 1970s. He has starred in everything from "The Money Pit" and "The Godfather Part III" to "The Simpsons" and "Criminal Minds." It's that last gig, though, that he may be best known for at this point, having played Special Agent David Rossi for 14 seasons, including in its new incarnation, "Criminal Minds: Evolution."

On "Evolution," which streams new episodes on Thursdays on Paramount+, the agents at the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit get back to work after the COVID-19 pandemic subsides in order to hunt down a sophisticated serial killer. Rossi is once again leading the team, but this time around, we see him as a broken man. His wife died during the show's two-year hiatus, and the BAU is working under the threat of being dismantled.

Outside of that, "Evolution" is the same "Criminal Minds" fans have grown to love, just with a heightened sense of urgency and even more gruesome scenes. It's a job that may look heavy and dark from a viewer's perspective, but during an exclusive interview with Looper, Mantegna assured us that he doesn't absorb that bleakness or take it home with him.

'You don't necessarily have to live the life of your character'

During our conversation, Joe Mantegna admitted that people often ask him how he handles the grimness of a show like "Criminal Minds: Evolution," and his answer is that he and his fellow co-stars know how to keep things light on the set.

"When you watch the show, you're watching ... maybe 50 minutes of the show, but it takes us eight days to film that show," said Mantegna. "You're only watching 50 minutes of grimness, but we spend seven to 23 hours' worth of [time filming it]. So there's plenty of opportunity for [keeping things light]."

When it comes to particularly spine-chilling scenes, Mantegna is a master at letting it roll off his back.

"As soon as they say 'cut,' that scene is over, and now you're back in reality," he said. "I have no problem jumping between David Rossi and Joe Mantegna when I'm on a set, as it should be. That's the nature of the business, and you learn that. You don't necessarily have to live the life of your character."

"Criminal Minds: Evolution" streams new episodes on Thursdays on Paramount+.