‘Criminal Minds: Evolution’ Star Joe Mantegna on Rossi’s Dark Place: ‘Give It a Little Time’ (VIDEO)

While Joe Mantegna hadn’t been expecting to step back into his role as Special Agent David Rossi after Criminal Minds ended a 15-season run in 2020, he also wasn’t entirely shocked it happened.

“There was really no indication at the time when we ended,” he tells TV Insider in the video interview above. “But I’ve been in this business long enough to know anything’s possible and sometimes things happen for a reason and I think this was a good enough reason and so here we are.”

Here is Criminal Minds: Evolution, a 16th season with the members of the Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU), and this time, the profilers have one UnSub (Zach Gilford’s Elias Voit) with a network of serial killers to hunt down over 10 episodes on Paramount+.

That move to streaming does give them more room to dig into a case like they are. “For the most part, we were pretty much a one-off show in the sense that each episode was so contained,” Mantegna, who directed Episode 3, says. Occasionally, they’d have multi-episode arcs, bring back characters, and revisit storylines. But “this gives us a chance to really go in depth on one particular story while still maintaining a different variety within each episode that is true unto itself.”

Furthermore, they’re no longer stuck with the restrictions of network TV. “I think some of the fans will understand that, OK if Rossi’s going to be the one to step over the line and push the envelope in terms of language and things like that, that makes sense,” he laughs. “I would be the one for that.”

While his character does start off the season in a dark place — he’s still grieving after his wife’s death — that will change. “The way I look in the trailers is even not the Rossi we remember,” he says before promising, “Give it a little time. Dave’s got stuff to do and people to see and places to go.”

Watch the video interview above for more from Mantegna, including him reflecting on when Rossi first joined the team (“with a little attitude”), about Rossi in these early episodes, and how it’s clear the cast has fun together — which is important for the characters’ line of work.

Criminal Minds: Evolution, Thursdays, Paramount+