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

Zach Gilford's Criminal Minds Journey Was Helped By Midnight Mass

"Criminal Minds" recently wrapped its 16th season of serial killer drama, and in the eyes of some, the series' inaugural streaming run delivered some of its best episodes to date. Subtitled "Evolution," the pseudo sequel series largely lived up to the billing, with the BAU elites reconvening for not just another run of creep-of-the-week storylines, but one dominated by an entire unionized network of violent unsubs. The new look "Criminal Minds" even took the unprecedented approach of spending the entire season getting to know the group's duplicitous leader, Elias Voit.

Voit is arguably one of the fiercest and smartest unsubs the BAU team has ever tangled with. The character quickly became a favorite among the series' long list of notable killers. That is primarily thanks to the work of Zach Gilford, who portrayed Voit. Known for playing nice guys in various film and television projects, "Criminal Minds" was a rare opportunity for Gilford to indulge in his dark side. During an interview with Entertainment Tonight, the actor admitted he may not have landed the role if not for his turn in Netflix's "Midnight Mass," noting, "I know that the writers, most of them saw that and loved it."

It's easy to see where Zach Gilford is coming from with that statement. In fact, prior to his show-stopping turn in "Midnight Mass," the actor had rarely been asked to explore such darkness, but the edgier role clearly helped pave the path to his unsettling "Criminal Minds" performance.

Criminal Minds producers wanted Gilford to bring a duality to his character

Gilford's "Midnight Mass" character Riley Flynn is not your typical bad boy. Rather, he's more of an average guy who has some issues. He makes some very bad decisions that not only cost the life of an innocent young woman, but lead to a lengthy prison stint. They also leave Riley dealing with guilt for the rest of his days. His tortured, post-prison life only gets more complicated when he's transformed into a blood-thirsty vampire against his will. For his part, Gilford expertly dips in and out of the darkness throughout "Midnight Mass," with Riley's story vamping along to a truly unforgettable end.

During his Entertainment Tonight interview, Gilford claimed his ability to tap into the darkness while not losing sight of the light indeed helped him land the role of Elias Voit on "Criminal Minds: Evolution," stating, "I think they felt like, 'Oh OK, I can see him playing this twisted character.'" More specifically, Gilford believes that this duality is what the producers were looking to tap into with Voit. He said that they wanted "someone who can trick the world, the audience, but also the world he lives in, to liking him." If you've seen Gilford at work in "Criminal Minds: Evolution," then you already know that this approach paid off big time.