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The Iconic Family Drama You Forgot Starred Criminal Minds' Jayne Atkinson

Jayne Atkinson has had a long and illustrious career. Born in 1959, the British actor has appeared in movies like "Blank Check," "Syriana," and "The Village," while also appearing on many successful television shows, such as "The X-Files," "House of Cards," and "24." In fact, one of her biggest television roles is that of Erin Strauss in "Criminal Minds." Strauss is the Behavioral Analysis Unit Section Chief, and her position has her mostly in an administrative role. She's the direct supervisor of the intrepid BAU team, and she appears in 24 episodes (via IMDb).

Unfortunately for Atkinson, Strauss is killed by poison on the hit television show, but her legacy is respected by her coworkers as they lament the loss of a great friend and mother. Overall, Strauss is a character haunted by her former decisions, but she eventually comes to accept them before her untimely murder. Fans of the "Criminal Minds" character can catch Atkinson in many different roles in other movies and television series, but there's one well-known family drama film that you might not realize she starred in.

Atikinson played Annie Greenwood in Free Willy and its sequel

Jayne Atkinson played a significant role in both 1993's "Free Willy" and its sequel, "Free Willy 2: The Adventure Home." "Free Willy" stars Jason James Richter, Lori Petty, Michael Ironside, and Atkinson. Atkinson plays Annie Greenwood, one of the foster parents of a boy named Jesse (Richter). "Free Willy" tells the uplifting story of a troubled orphan caught up in the foster care system who eventually befriends a captive killer whale, which results in the animal earning his freedom in an iconic scene that is still referenced to this day.

"Free Willy" has a 71% critic score on Rotten Tomatoes and it was a huge financial success, with the movie earning close to $154 million on a $20 million budget (via The Numbers). The movie inspired several sequels and spin-offs, with Atkinson returning once more for the direct sequel, in which her caring and compassionate character once again lends her wisdom and insight to others. "Free Willy" is currently available on HBO Max and Hulu (via TV Guide).