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A.J. Cook Says Appearing on ‘Criminal Minds’ Helped Her ID Real-Life Pedophile (Exclusive)

A J Cook Says Appearing on Criminal Minds Helped Her ID Actual Pedophile
Michael Yarish/Paramount+

Criminal Minds star A.J. Cook took some of her on-the-job training out for a spin in the real world.

Cook, 45, has played Supervisory Special Agent Jennifer “JJ” Jareau for nearly two decades on Criminal Minds and spinoff Criminal Minds: Evolution. Given all of her accumulated expertise, she knew something was wrong when confronted with an unsavory character offscreen. 

“I have had to learn some things that you didn’t necessarily want to know,” the actress exclusively told Us Weekly. “But they have come in handy in my life. Recently, I dealt with a pedophile and I knew it. I knew it about this guy!”

Cook felt like her hands were tied, though. “But what do you say? What do you do?” she questioned. “Then it came out later that he was, and I was like, ‘Boom!’”

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While the actress admitted it was “so dark,” she acknowledged as a mother, “that’s a handy skill to have.” Cook and husband Nathan Andersen are parents to sons Mekhai, 15 and Phoenix, 8.

Aisha Tyler, who has played forensic psychologist Dr. Tara Lewis in the Criminal Minds universe since 2015, told Us Weekly that being on the show has impacted the way she watches other crime shows and documentaries.

A J Cook Says Appearing on Criminal Minds Helped Her ID Actual Pedophile
A.J. Cook as Jennifer “JJ” Jareau and Aisha Tyler as Dr. Tara Lewis in “Criminal Minds: Evolution” Monty Brinton/Paramount+

“I will be like, ‘Oh, that guy absolutely did it,’” Tyler, 53, said. “‘I mean, look at his facial expression. Look at how he’s looking up and right instead of down and left.’ He’s obviously lying.’”

Tyler also admitted that the show has made her “much more of a skeptic.”

“I spend a lot more time, both in real-life and when I’m watching other stuff, looking for people’s non-verbal cues, and internalizing the ways in which they’re telling you things without telling you things,” Tyler said.

The actress opined that hopefully her skepticism expresses itself “not in a negative way, just in a protective way,” especially when it comes to dealing with members of her family. 

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“I’m like, ‘No, delete that. Don’t open that. Don’t read that,’” she explained. “I think we’re realizing that not knowing what’s real is really bad for your mental health. It’s really hard to move through the world when you don’t have basic guideposts about what information is coming to you and whether it’s authentic or not.”

Or, Tyler joked, maybe it just makes her a really good wing woman. 

“That probably just makes me louder in a bar,” she told Us. “I’m like, ‘That guy’s full of s—t! Don’t go home with him!’”

Season 2 of Criminal Minds: Evolution premieres on Paramount+ Thursday, June 6.

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