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Criminal Minds: Evolution's Zach Gilford Likens Filming To 'Bad Therapy Role-Playing'

When Zach Gilford signed on to play Elias Voit on "Crimnal Minds: Evolution," it was clear he'd need to push himself into some pretty dark places. He did, after all, sign on to play the first season-long unsub the blood-spattered world of "Criminal Minds" has ever created. The task was all the more towering as Gilford was also claiming a role that was far darker than arguably anything he'd ever been asked to play prior.

Thankfully, the actor leaned headlong into the darkness for "Criminal Minds: Evolution," creating what some believe to be the most dangerous unsub the BAU has faced. Of course, part of what made Voit so memorable, and so tricky to play, is that the series spent so much screen time away from his life as a calculating, cold-blooded killer, focusing often on his life as a caring father and husband. And as complicated as that storytelling got, it was even more so for Gilford because his onscreen partner was played by his real world wife Kiele Sanchez.

Things understandably got dicey between Elias and Sydney Voit by season's end. And as Gilford told Entertainment Tonight, shooting those tense scenes with his actual wife felt like a decidedly different sort of acting gig. "It's one thing when you do these scenes with an actress and you're imagining," he said, adding, "But then when you're actually having these interactions with your wife, but you're in this make-believe experience, it almost feels like bad therapy role-playing." 

Gilford says filming scenes with his real-life wife can sometimes get icky

As Zach Gilford later admitted, "Criminal Minds: Evolution" was hardly the first time he'd shared the screen with his real life partner Kiele Sanchez. The couple had indeed already worked together on the 2010 TV movie "Matadors," as well as 2014's "The Purge: Anarchy." But it's safe to say those projects did not involve the sort of life-imitating-art-imitating-life theatrics that came with their tricky onscreen pairing in "Evolution." While he claims they've each gotten good at separating their work lives from home life over the years, Gilford also admits shooting some of Elias and Sydney Voit's darker scenes didn't always feel great.

"We both will go home at the end of the day and we'll both be like, 'That was really gross,' have a drink and just shake it off," Gilford told ET, adding, "We're not people who bring our work home with us." He continued, "We've worked together before but we've never had this relationship between characters, so it's been fun to be at work together and do stuff with each other. I think she's such a good actress and to get to have her as my scene partner [is wonderful]. But it is just like, it feels icky sometimes."

Ick-factor aside, Gilford and Sanchez clearly brought their respective A-games to the "Evolution" set every day. In doing so, they helped the "Criminal Minds" team explore a genuinely unsettling side of an unsub rarely ever glimpsed on the show. And "Evolution" is all the more unforgettable for it.