by J. Rentilly
Playing the straight-and-narrow man can take its toll on an actor, particularly if the role is Aaron “Hotch” Hotchner and the show is CBS’ gleefully diabolical, often pitch-black procedural Criminal Minds.
Celebrating the broadcast of the show’s 150th episode this week (Wednesday, 9 p.m.), Golden Globe-nominated actor Thomas Gibson is the polar opposite of the frequently furrow-browed Hotch—light, easygoing, and ready to laugh, even at himself. “Hotch’s fatal flaw is that he takes his job a little too seriously, and that can lead to an early grave,” says the 49-year old Gibson. “I work hard, but I leave it at the office. You have to.” Gibson, also much-loved for his roles on Chicago Hope and Dharma & Greg, shares some tips for blowing off some steam between cracking the byzantine brains of Criminal’s iniquitous masterminds.
Men’s Health: Television production schedules can be rigorous, 12 hours a day. That’s a lot of time to be playing in shadows. How do you shake that off?
Thomas Gibson: Yeah, you really need a way to shake off the day, but also to build the strength and stamina for the next one. That’s something Hotch hasn’t quite figured out yet. I’ve always been involved in sports as a kid. I swam competitively as a kid. I played all the team sports—baseball, football, and soccer. But I also went to summer camp for a few years where we were exposed to team handball and track & field and marksmanship and skeet shooting, all kinds of stuff. There were certain things that stuck. There was a counselor there who thought I had some tennis potential. So I played for a while. Summer I was 13, my grandfather and my father taught me how to play golf. I took lessons that summer, and I played everyday that summer. I probably would’ve kept playing, except I realized that girls don’t watch golf; they watch tennis. So I let my golf game go dormant and started playing tennis.
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