Interview: Aisha Tyler Talks ‘Criminal Minds: Evolution’

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Michael Yarish / Paramount+

Ahead of the upcoming Criminal Minds: Evolution premiere, Nerds & Beyond caught up with original series star Aisha Tyler, who plays Tara Lewis.

Criminal Minds: Evolution catches back up with the FBI’s elite team of criminal profilers, the BAU. The team comes up against their greatest threat yet, an UnSub who has used the pandemic to build a network of other serial killers. As the world opens back up and the network goes operational, the team must hunt them down, one murder at a time.

Nerds & Beyond: Tara, since her arrival, has been an unsung hero of the BAU. What can you tease about her position amongst her peers this season?

Tyler: Well, you know, she’s one of the later additions to the BAU, obviously. And she really came in from a very academic line of work. She was a forensic psychiatrist and an analyst and really was about the mind of the serial killer. A lot of her work prior to the BAU was about these jailhouse interviews really picking apart the mind of a sociopath or a psychopath. Now, she is a full-blown field agent. The BAU has been shut down so our agents don’t have the same resources that they had before. They don’t have their jet; they don’t have Garcia handling everything. They’ve really had to do more with much less.

So, I think what you’re going to see from Lewis is that she’s been on the road, she’s been working and sleeping in her car occasionally staying at roadside motels, eating in diners. She hasn’t cut her hair since the beginning of the pandemic. She’s really been devoted to the work. You’re going to see a tougher, more hardened field agent in Tara but also someone who has developed these other skills around her forensic abilities that are going to make her a better profiler.

Michael Yarish /Paramount+

Nerds & Beyond: Tara has always been a very well-loved character. What has the sudden resurgence of Criminal Minds bringing in so many new fans meant to you?

Tyler: We have come up with the phrase the “Criminal Mind-aissance” because there really was one, which I think we were all, maybe not shocked by, but it was a nice surprise when the show ended. I remember like right around when the show ended, a story came out that it was the most downloaded drama on Netflix. Then when COVID happened, it became the number one streamed show in the world because all these people found the show again, right? They were watching it on all these streaming platforms and there was a big TikTok, you know, kind of blowout. That was awesome because people were discovering the show; new people were finding their way to the show and falling in love.

We were just thrilled, we love making the show. You know, it is very dark. It deals with macabre subject matter. People love the show so much. We hear people say, “I went to law school because of the show. I’m studying criminal justice cause of this show. I was in some scenario where I remembered something on the show and it helped me get out of an unsafe situation.” We just want to tell great stories, but it’s amazing that it affects people how it does. It makes us feel a lot of responsibility to tell these stories with care and intention to respect its incredible fan base.

We are really going to give the fans what they came for, which is more of these characters, more of our heroes, more of the important work they do, but also their emotional life. The romance, the gallows humor that arises naturally when you work in such dark work. We hear all the time from real-life profilers, that they’re always trying to keep things light to balance the darkness and the lightness. I think you’re really going to see that. So for all the fans that just fell in love, we are really about to bring a combo plate you will enjoy.

Criminal Minds: Evolution premieres its first two episodes on November 24 on Paramount+. CBS will also host a special broadcast of the first episode at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT on November 24.

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By Haley
Haley joined the Nerds and Beyond team in 2019 as a Writer and Editor. Her main fandoms include Criminal Minds, Wrestling, and The Walking Dead. You can find her on Twitter @haleyanne_.
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