Fans of “Criminal Minds” were stunned when star Thomas Gibson was axed by the show over a behind-the-scenes altercation with a writer on the long-running procedural, and now the actor is telling his side of the story in an exclusive interview with People.
“I feel like it took years to make a good reputation and a minute to damage it,” the 54-year-old actor tells the magazine.
As he explains, he was directing the second episode of the show’s upcoming 12th season when simmering tensions between himself and writer-producer Virgil Williams hit the boiling point.
“We were shooting a scene late one night when I went to Virgil and told him there was a line that I thought contradicted an earlier line,” says Gibson. “He said, ‘Sorry, it’s necessary, and I absolutely have to have it.'”
Gibson admits he was frustrated by the response, and went back to the set. He was telling some of his fellow cast members about the exchange when Williams entered.
“He came into that room and started coming towards me,” says Gibson of the life-changing incident. “As he brushed past me, my foot came up and tapped him on the leg. If I hadn’t moved, he would have run into me. We had some choice words, for which I apologized the next day, and that was it. It was over. We shot the scene, I went home — and I never got to go back.”
After Williams filed a formal complaint, Gibson was suspended for two weeks, and then learned he had been “dismissed” from “Criminal Minds” altogether. And while Gibson’s character, Aaron Hotchner, will appear in the first two episodes, it remains unclear how the character’s absence will be explained.
“It seems like they’re trying to erase me from the show. That hurts,” Gibson admits. “But I’m using this time to be with my kids, and I look forward to what’s next. Maybe I’ll do a comedy, or a play, or direct, or produce.”
He adds: “My pride and reputation are hurt, but in the end I know the good work is what people will remember. I just need more opportunities to do good work and be a good guy.”
You can read more from Thomas Gibson — including his DUI arrest, his divorce and behind-the-scenes drama from “Criminal Minds” — check out the upcoming issue of People.