There comes a time in every man's life when he needs to stand up and face the music. A time when he must walk right up to that mirror and ask some very difficult questions of himself. Things have not been great recently. I know it, you know it, we all know it. And while it's true that I haven't exactly been Mr. Perfect Star of CBS's Criminal Minds lately, I can assure you that all of this is going to change.
Because I'm the Joe Mantegna of this show, damn it, and it's time I started acting like it.
I just didn't realize what a huge responsibility it was going to be to become the male lead in a serial-killer-themed TV drama. It changes your life in ways you'd never expect. The truth is, you can't prepare for the experience of suddenly being the star of Criminal Minds. It's something that just happens to you. I kidded myself by thinking I could still maintain a semblance of my old life, but I was wrong. I was dead wrong. And I'm sorry.
I've been selfish. That's the long and short of it. I've put my own needs before the needs of Criminal Minds, and there's no excuse for that.
Take last week, for instance. I didn't even bother to find out who the killer was until the final day of taping! In fact, sometimes I go through an entire episode without ever knowing who the killer is, or wanting to know. Heck, even that time Jason Alexander guest-starred I could barely muster up the energy for an actor's duel, and that was in the middle of Sweeps, for crying out loud. Let's face it, that's just plain irresponsible. You deserve a better star of Criminal Minds than that.
It's not like I don't care, because I do. Believe me, I care. It's just that sometimes I don't always show it. The truth is, it isn't easy bringing the complex world of the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit into your living room every Wednesday night. Matter of fact, it's stressful as hell. Each week I have to juggle a dozen new characters and subplots at once. It's almost like I'm making this whole starring–on–Criminal Minds thing up as I go along.
It's not like there's some kind of manual for this. There are no books on how to be a thoughtful and caring star of Criminal Minds that would help guide me through this new phase of my life.
You see, I never had my own star of Criminal Minds to look up to when I was young, so there was no one to teach me the right way to do this. But that's no excuse. I need to be there for you, the audience, now. Why? Because that's what an actor portraying the character of Special Agent David Rossi is supposed to do.
No more coming home from a long shoot and just crashing. Not anymore. I will read my lines for the next day, and damn it, I will learn them. No more half-assed furrows of the brow or so-called "steely glances" delivered with the conviction of an eight-year-old. You deserve the best, and I will give you the best, even if the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences chooses not to recognize it as such. Because, it's me, okay? Joe Mantegna. You know me. When I look you in the eye and tell you, "Hey, look, I blew it, I'm sorry, I will try and do better," you know this to be true. Remember Body Of Evidence? Remember how disappointed you were with me after that? Well, I do. I hardly slept for months. But then I made it up to you by appearing in a little motion picture called Searching For Bobby Fischer. See what I mean? I can change.
I can be the star of Criminal Minds that you need me to be. And I will not cower from my responsibilities. For I am resilient. I am adaptable. I shift with the rain, and the sun, and the wind. I let pain and sorrow run through me like an electric current. I am a conduit of the human condition—a living, breathing amalgamation of humanity's hopes, dreams, and fears. In my veins courses the blood of a thousand lost souls. I am the cop in the alley. I am the priest, trembling at the altar. I am the mother on the hospital bed, crying for her stillborn child. I am us. I am you. I am Everyman. I am Mantegna.
Don't forget to watch Criminal Minds every Wednesday night at 9 p.m. Eastern time, only on CBS.