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

The Transformation Of Matthew Gray Gubler From Childhood To Criminal Minds

If you're an avid "Criminal Minds" watcher, you know that Matthew Gray Gubler is one of the show's most iconic stars. The procedural crime drama centers around a group of criminal profilers in the FBI who are part of the Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU). Gubler plays supervisory special agent Spencer Reid, a genius who holds multiple PhDs. Reid's quirkiness mirrors that of Gubler's in real life, and fans have expressed their love of the nerdy detective all across social media. He appears in all 323 episodes of "Criminal Minds," although he's not currently slated to appear in the upcoming revival season.

While Gubler is most well-known for his role as Reid, he's had an eclectic career — though he didn't always want to be in the spotlight. Let's take a look at the transformation of Gubler from his very early days up until he landed his spot on the "Criminal Minds" team.

Matthew Gray Gubler didn't plan to be an actor

Though Matthew Gray Gubler is known as a successful actor, he didn't always think of acting as a career. According to Biography, Gubler studied acting while in high school at the Las Vegas Academy of Arts because his main interest, filmmaking, wasn't an option. Fortunately for him, he was naturally talented, and he went on to star in multiple productions while in school.

"I was in 'Picnic' at the academy, and 'The Importance of Being Earnest,' and I also got to play The Cat in the Hat and The Mad Hatter, two of my favorite fictional psychopaths," Gubler said. "I never thought I'd be making a living off of acting — it's still kind of a shock for my family and friends to see my face on TV every Wednesday night." He eventually graduated from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts with a degree in film directing, and later got the opportunity to direct several episodes of "Criminal Minds."

When his breakout show was reaching its final episode, Parade asked if Gubler was going to continue acting or go back to directing, to which he replied, "With everything I've done in every way, I've always tried to not necessarily give myself a limit or a trajectory, which is how I was fortunate enough to end up on this TV show. So, I think for the future, while directing is still one of my biggest passions, everything is my passion, so I would love to continue acting."

He was a model

Before he landed his big role on "Criminal Minds," Matthew Gray Gubler was a successful male model. While still a student in New York, he was stopped by a model scout with DNA Model Management and was soon modeling for industry giants like Tommy Hilfiger, Marc Jacobs, and American Eagle (via TV Guide). Regarding the whole experience, he joked, "It was during a time when there were really emaciated weirdos modeling. It wasn't like they were looking for Fabio."

Even though he's been characteristically self-deprecating about his looks, Gubler was a successful model who walked in fashion shows and appeared in several print campaigns. According to models.com, he was once ranked in the top 50 male models, holding the 46th spot. While he's often recognized for his looks, Gubler has confessed that he was bullied as a kid. He told Glamour, "I'm so thankful for every bully I've ever had. It never affected me, and that's why I'm so thankful for them. I learned early on that if anything, it made me stick closer to who I am and not try...it just made me very solid with who I was. I don't see it like, 'poor me.' I was lucky. It taught me a beautiful lesson, and I'm really grateful for it."

Matthew Gray Gubler struck big with Wes Anderson

Matthew Gray Gubler's first acting credit is all thanks to Wes Anderson. In an interview with Glamour, Gubler explained how he came to meet Anderson through an internship. "In order to graduate from film school, we had to do a semester of interning. I really wanted to intern for Wes because he's one of my favorite filmmakers and lives in New York and has a production company there. I sent a little weird DVD of movies I made and a note saying I would love to get him coffee. [Laughs] I lucked out and got to work there, and that was a real dream come true."

During his internship, Anderson convinced Gubler to audition for his upcoming movie "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou," where he (ironically) played the part of Intern #1. Shortly after landing the role, he took a trip to Hollywood and auditioned for a certain crime procedural show. The rest is history.

He is a painter

Aside from his passions of acting and filmmaking, Matthew Gray Gubler is a talented artist. In 2004, he created a website that featured his characteristically quirky art that some may describe as "creepy," and for years it served as a sort of art portfolio for his watercolor, oil, and pastel paintings. He took the webpage down after Flash was removed from the internet, but he's since revitalized his website with a new look.

Gubler's art has appeared in galleries, group shows, and magazines (via The Things). However, he has confessed he gets nervous when people critique his art in person. In 2013, he told Buzzfeed, "On the internet, it's this safe space where I can put it up and people can click on it or not. I don't have to be in the same room as them pretending to like it, so I very rarely show people things ... some people misinterpret my style of painting as offensive, and I've had instances where I've painted beautiful portraits for, like, a girlfriend or someone, and they're just like, they look at it with a grimace and they're like, 'This is terrible.'"

Despite his insecurities, his pieces have sold for thousands of dollars, inspired countless tattoos, and received praise all across the internet. Gubler may be modest about his skill, but at least the rest of the world recognizes his many talents.

He voiced a chipmunk

In 2007, Matthew Gray Gubler took a reprieve from the dark world of "Criminal Minds" to provide the voice of Simon –- the loveable, nerdy brother of Alvin (voiced by Justin Long) –- in the feature film version of "Alvin and the Chipmunks." According to Box Office Mojo, the movie would go on to earn an impressive $365 million at the global box office. Distributed by 20th Century Fox and helmed by "Muppets from Space" director Tim Hill, "Alvin and the Chipmunks" combines live action and computer-generated animation to bring the beloved 1980s cartoon to life. The story centers on three chipmunk brothers adopted by human songwriter Dave Seville (Jason Lee). Gubler's character, Simon, is often the voice of reason among his mischievous brothers Alvin and Theodore (Jesse McCartney).

The actor continued to voice Simon through three more "Chipmunks" films: "The Squeakquel," "Chipwrecked," and "The Road Chip." The sequel earned even more than its predecessor, raking in $443 million (Box Office Mojo). However, the third and fourth films didn't fare quite as well and there's no word on a fifth movie. In an interview with Page Six, Gubler reflected on how much he loved playing Simon. "Oddly, I feel more a part of this than anything else I've been lucky enough to be in. Actors talk about dreaming of playing Othello, but for me, it's Simon. It's the biggest deal to me," he said.

Gubler co-starred in 500 Days of Summer

When "500 Days of Summer" was released in 2009, it stood apart from its romantic-comedy counterparts, specifically because the romance at the center of the film doesn't last. The film centers on 20-somethings Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and Summer (Zooey Deschanel) as they fall in and out of love.

Matthew Gray Gubler co-stars in the film as Tom's friend, Paul. Paul is in a healthy relationship with Robyn (who doesn't appear in the film). He speaks the truth about real love to Tom and comforts his friend after Summer dumps him. IMDb quotes Paul telling Tom, "But truthfully, Robyn is better than the girl of my dreams ... She's real." Although Gubler only appears in a few scenes, Paul's perspective on love helps illustrate how unrealistic Tom is about romance.

In an article about the film's 10th anniversary, The Observer noted the one-dimensional characterization of Summer and said of the movie, "For a film that was heralded as a quirky response to the traditional romance and has since endured as a cult classic, its central message and themes don't go down quite as easily today." The article further broke down Summer's lack of character depth and decried her existence as serving no purpose aside from Tom's dreams. However, this is the important truth Gubler's character subtly points out in the film.

He played the protégé of a serial killer

The extremely dark 2008 comedy "How to Be a Serial Killer" allows Matthew Gray Gubler to portray a wannabe murderer rather than a profiler and hunter of serial killers. Gubler plays Bart — a nebbish video store clerk who becomes a student of Mike (Dameon Clarke), a self-help bro with 10 easy steps to self-actualization via grisly murder. Mike is a dark, twisted Mr. Miyagi to Bart's Daniel LaRusso and Gubler plays Bart with believable cowardice. As a review of the film from horror website Dread Central notes, "Bart's the kind of character most audience members will want to beat with a sock full of quarters until he stops being such a simpering idiot."

An independent film, "How to Be a Serial Killer" was distributed by Monterey Media and only opened on one domestic theater screen. According to Box Office Mojo, the movie played for one weekend and earned $899. Limited audience reviews of the film on Rotten Tomatoes were less than favorable. However, Liz, a super reviewer on the site, called the movie, "An entertaining social etiquette of sorts that makes you laugh, creeps you out and makes you want to become best friends with Matthew Gray Gubler."

He dated Kat Dennings

Matthew Gray Gubler doesn't usually live his romances in the limelight. The actor's love life isn't the focus of his interviews or press junkets. Nonetheless, like many other Hollywood celebrities, he is rumored to have dated Taylor Swift (via Cosmopolitan). However, Gubler has never spoken on the record about a former relationship with the mega pop star. Kat Dennings remains the one celebrity Gubler has confirmed dating and over the years, the two have worked on-screen together.

Dennings and Gubler hooked up in 2007 and although their romance didn't last, their friendship has continued in the years since. The two appeared together in both the small independent horror-comedy "Suburban Gothic" and the short-lived Hulu series, "Dollface." Gubler sat down with the website Shock Ya to discuss "Suburban Gothic" and his relationship with Dennings. "I love Kat, as she's actually one of my closest friends, and we actually dated many years ago. It's very rare to find weirdos who are like yourself, so when you find them, you keep them close," he shared. The imaginative comedy series "Dollface" ran for two seasons on Hulu. The show centered on Dennings character, web designer Jules Wiley and her search for love and purpose. Gubler co-starred as Wes, Jules' potential love interest.

Gubler has directed music videos and television episodes

Matthew Gray Gubler continues to forge ahead on his path as a professional actor but hasn't forgotten his longing to get behind the camera. The years have opened up significant opportunities for Gubler to direct. His first stint as a director came in Season 5 of "Criminal Minds" when he had the opportunity to steer the ship for the episode, "Mosley Lane." Gubler would go on to helm 11 more episodes of the dark crime procedural (via IMDb) and directed his own satirical YouTube series, "Matthew Gray Gubler: The Unauthorized Documentary."

Fellow Las Vegas natives and mega music stars The Killers hired Gubler to direct two of their music videos as well. The actor helmed The Killers' videos "Don't Shoot Me Santa" and "Dirt Sledding." According to an interview with Gubler from Nylon, both videos are for Christmas singles from the band, who then donate the proceeds to the non-profit RED to help combat AIDS. The article also explains that Gubler and the members of The Killers have friendships going back to when they were just starting in their respective Industries.

Gubler spoke to Nylon about his vision for "Don't Shoot Me Santa," stating, "I thought nothing would be funnier than starting a cheerful Christmas song seeing a man at the end of his rope beating teddy bears with flaming tomahawks and having an adult tantrum. I really wanted to show the difference between grimy, dirty Santa and a cheerful holiday band."

He became an ordained minister

Matthew Gray Gubler continues to add interesting roles to his resume. In 2014, the model-actor-director-painter chose to become an ordained minister. According to the "Criminal Minds" fandom page, Gubler's path to ordination was spurred by his desire to officiate the wedding of his close friend and "Criminal Minds" costar Paget Brewster. The actor received his ordination a month before his friend's wedding.

Through the 15 years they spent working on the series together, Brewster and Gubler forged an extremely deep bond. Gubler even introduced Brewster to her husband, musician Steve Damstra. With excitement, the actor shared on Twitter that he officiated the wedding between his two friends. In a post-wedding tweet, Gubler wrote, "On October 27, 2014, Gubler became an ordained minister and held the wedding of the star of Criminal Minds, Paget Brewster and Steve Damstra, his best friends, on November 29, 2014."

He also tweeted that he "had the unique pleasure of getting to officiate the marriage of 2 of my best friends and now i (sic) have minister fever." No word on whether the actor has offered his services as an officiant since, so this may have been a solitary event for Gubler.

Starred in his own satirical documentary

After Matthew Gray Gubler began to gain public recognition for his role as Dr. Spencer Reid in "Criminal Minds," he poked fun at his newfound celebrity status. In 2006, Gubler launched a YouTube series called "Matthew Gray Gubler: The Unauthorized Documentary" – an obviously satirical episodic series. The actor's humorous commentary on narcissistic celebrities who take themselves too seriously pre-dates the similarly themed Joaquin Phoenix vehicle "I'm Still Here." Although both parodies mock celebrity culture, Phoenix did extensive press for "I'm Still Here" in character. As noted by The Guardian, Phoenix infamously appeared as his self-absorbed character on "The Late Show with David Letterman" which prompted the actor to apologize to Letterman 18 months later. "I'm Still Here" could almost qualify as serious performance art, whereas Gubler's video series delights in its silliness.

Gubler's YouTube series spans 14 short episodes (each episode runs under 10 minutes) over two seasons and features guest appearances from, among others, comedic talent Jason Alexander and the late, great actor, Anton Yelchin. In Season 1, Episode 11, Yelchin takes "acting lessons" from Gubler and refers to him as the "actor's ... actor's actor" (after Gubler refers to Yelchin as "Anthony"). MTV News points to Gubler's mockumentary as evidence the actor "has a wonderful sense of humor and isn't afraid to make fun of himself" and we agree. Season 2 of "The Unauthorized Documentary" aired from 2020 to 2021.

Gubler chose not to join Criminal Minds: Evolution

When the "Criminal Minds" reboot was announced, the show's fans grew excited at the return of their favorite FBI profilers. Before "Criminal Minds: Evolution" premiered, Deadline announced the return of long-time stars Paget Brewster, A.J. Cook, Joe Mantegna, and Kirsten Vangsness. Adam Rodriguez and Aisha Tyler, who joined the cast in the original show's later seasons, also confirmed their inclusion in the reboot. However, glaringly missing from the cast announcement was Matthew Gray Gubler as Dr. Spencer Reid.

Pre IMDb, over 15 seasons, Gubler appeared in 323 of the original "Criminal Minds" episodes. The actor, who began his trajectory on the show when he was 25, wrapped the series finale when he was 40. Both Gubler and Reid grew up through the show's lengthy run. In an exclusive interview with Looper, Gubler's friend and co-star Paget Brewster opened up about his absence from the reboot. "Matthew was the only person in the last two seasons that had been in every single episode. He did 15 years straight through," Brewster explained. She elaborated on Gubler's choice to decline reprising his role. "He was never able to go do other stuff, so I understand," she said.

However, Gubler's character hasn't been killed off of "Criminal Minds: Evolution," and there are numerous plausible explanations for Reid's absence. Perhaps Gubler will make guest appearances in future episodes.