Thomas Gibson's third stint in the director's chair on Criminal Minds turned into a family affair.
Not only is Hotch's (Gibson) son Jack (Cade Owens) back in the episode (Wednesday, 9/8c, CBS), but his real son, Travis, guest-stars in the episode, and his daughter, Agatha, makes a cameo as well as a trick-or-treater.
Baby Girl and beyond: Watch a supercut of Morgan and Garcia's pet names on Criminal Minds
"Travis said to me after two days, 'Dad, can I go to school online and become an actor?'" Gibson tells TVGuide.com. "I said, 'It's not all riding bikes and egging houses!' That was as much fun as he has had and gotten paid for. ... Unfortunately, because the show is not for kids, they've seen very little of it. A couple years ago, I was coaching Jack's soccer team and I put Travis' name as one of the kids, so I said, 'Watch this soccer scene. Hey, Travis, I did that for you.' So this was cool. It was really fun for them and fun for me, which is weird to say for a really scary episode."The episode takes the BAU to San Diego after a boy who had been abducted the previous Halloween reappears only for another boy, Hunter (Braden Fitzgerald), to disappear. Travis, 12, plays one of Hunter's friends. "He's not the unsub!" Gibson says. The unsub, though, is a young man who suffered a traumatic experience on Halloween at the hands of his father.It's no accident that Gibson helmed the father-and-son-themed episode. Virgil Williams, who wrote the script, pitched the idea to him after they were both assigned the Halloween episode. "He wanted to do some of the best examples and some of the worst examples of fathers and sons," Gibson says. "The worst is obviously the case. And he wove in a really nice little thing, revisiting [Hotch's] home life with him on Halloween getting a costume [for Jack] with Madam Bouvier [Cornelius Jones, Jr]. That scene was so fun to shoot." (Watch an exclusive sneak peek of the scene below.)
After he got the script, Gibson, whose oldest son James shadowed him during prep, jumped at the opportunity to put his children in the episode. "I said, 'Hey, there's a part for one of the abducted boys' friends. I talked to Christina, my wife ... and we saw that it could work in one day. My daughter's actually walking up the sidewalk with a group of trick-or-treaters and the shot moves with her across the street and finds Travis."Unlike his previous directorial efforts, Gibson appears heavily throughout the hour. "It was a little bit more challenging," he says. "For the most part, I prepared pretty well. You always learn from each one. Next time, if you're shooting over my shoulder, I could let my stand-in be the double and I can watch. For the most part, it was everything I wanted it to be."
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The actor will don the director's cap again for the 16th episode later this season, to be written by — yup — Williams. "The dream team!" he says with a laugh. "It's very interesting. It's a prison story."Safe to say that his kids probably won't appear in this one. "It's a prison. Hopefully not!"Criminal Minds
airs Wednesdays at 9/8c on CBS. Watch a supercut of Morgan and Garcia's pet names below.
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