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Zach Gilford Got Solid Advice On How To Play A Serial Killer For Criminal Minds: Evolution

For fans of "Friday Night Lights," Zach Gilford's recent small-screen success has been a long time coming. The actor made us all cry by portraying sweet but neglected QB1, Matt Saracen. With more responsibility than a teenager should take on, Matt had to take leadership of the Dillon Panthers and look after his ailing grandmother. Many viewers will always hold his break-out character with clear eyes and full hearts. That isn't to say that Gilford hasn't played conflicted characters before. The actor's role as guilt-stricken Riley in one of Mike Flannagan's most memorable projects, "Midnight Mass," was particularly heart-wrenching. 

In Gilford's most recent role, he delves into the harrowing mind of serial killer Elias Voit in the "Criminal Minds" continuation. Dubbed "Criminal Minds: Evolution," the Paramount+ series certainly has evolved. Instead of unmasking unsubs one episode at a time, the revamped series unravels one mystery throughout a season. At the heart of this story is Voit, who has created a network of serial killers. As excited as Gilford was to take on this new challenge, there was a bit of advice he still took to heart.

Voit's duality was based on a real-life serial killer

Everyone knows the name, Ted Bundy. One of the most famous murderers in living memory, Bundy operated in the 1970s, known for nursing fake injuries to lull victims into a false sense of security. He accomplished this due to his chameleon-like ability to blend into a crowd. He could appear completely normal at first, but just like that, flip a switch and become someone else. This character study helped Zach Gilford conceptualize his "Criminal Minds" character with the help of one of the writers.

"Breen Frazier, one of the writers, told me, I think it was about Ted Bundy; he said there was good Ted and bad Ted," Gilford told Parade. "And I think this guy functions that way and likes to believe as long as he keeps the bad Voit separate from good Voit, it's OK. It'll just stay over there in the shadows, and I can live my life that I worked really hard to build." But as it typically goes with serial killers, there is eventually an end to the mayhem that they inflict. By the end of "Criminal Minds: Evolution," Voit gets his comeuppance and finds himself behind bars. But if you ask Gilford, the similarities to Bundy stop there.

"I think he does not want to be caught," Gilford said when asked if Voit shared Bundy's desire for attention. "I think he'll do almost anything not to be caught."