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Criminal Minds - Season 8 - Joe Mantegna Interview

TVLINE | It sounds like you have an especially resonant episode this week, and not just the usual unsub grisliness.

Well, it’s kind of a dual story because we have this unsub who’s out doing his usual kind of mayhem, preying on the homeless, but the secondary story comes in when, during our investigation on Los Angeles’ Skid Row, I spot a guy that turns out to be my commanding officer when I served in Vietnam, 40-plus years ago.

TVLINE | I have to imagine Rossi is pretty surprised by that.

He is very surprised, and what’s interesting, too, is they incorporate flashbacks, so all of a sudden it goes to black-and-white and there we are in Vietnam with a 19-year-old version of me (played by Robert Dunne) as well as the younger version of Meshack Taylor (Joseph H. Johnson Jr.). It’s an idea that I’ve been kicking around for a long time, and my assistant wrote a wonderful storyline that they were able to incorporate as part the episode. I’m just a strong believer that with a show that’s as successful and long-running as ours, the fan base becomes invested in the characters as much as they are in the stories. We’re always going to have an unsub, we’re always going to have a crime — that’s the nature of the show — but at this point they really like to look behind the curtain and see what’s going on in the lives of the characters, and this gives them a chance to not only get into the background of David Rossi but also for me to be able to tap into something that I feel very passionate about, which is our United States military and some of the problems that the veterans face.

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