Although Jennifer Love Hewitt left “Criminal Minds” in the Season 10 finale (May 6) to focus on the birth of her second child, fans don’t need to worry about the pregnancy of her co-star A.J. Cook causing another actress to leave the show.
Zap2it spoke to showrunner Erica Messer, who revealed just how Cook’s pregnancy would effect the series going into Season 11.
“It depends on when she actually has the baby,” Messer says. “Shooting starts the first or second week in July. So if she has the baby the end of July, we’ll have to figure out how much time she’ll want. My guess is it will probably be the first five episodes.”
Messer and the other writers faced a major predicament in Season 10 when both Hewitt and Cook announced they were expecting.
“It was so funny. I literally had the conversation about Jennifer not coming back because she wanted to be at home with the baby on a Thursday,” Messer explains. “Then on Friday, A.J. came into my office and she’s like, ‘I’m pregnant,’ and I was like, ‘Oh my God, what?’ I thought if I wrote this kind of thing it would be over the top that both of you are pregnant.”
The decision to have Cook’s character JJ pregnant on the show was a no brainer for the writers, since it would explain her absence in the beginning of Season 11. Plus, it gives the writers a unique opportunity to play.
“My hope is we could have a fun guest star when A.J.’s on maternity leave,” Messer says. “It will be different because JJ won’t be there. There is no replacing her as we know, but there’s an opportunity there to have fun for a few episodes.”
Fans will see the rest of the BAU team dealing with the absence of both Hewitt and Cook’s characters when Season 11 begins.
“We’ll probably be really reflecting on the comings and goings of people,” Messer says. “In the beginning of the season we’ll be acknowledging that kind of thing. How rare it is for the team to be together for as long as they have been? That’s not a normal working experience anywhere, let alone the FBI where people come and go traditionally all the time. We want to write to that as much as we can.”
“Criminal Minds” airs Wednesdays on CBS.