"My wish was granted! I was so excited when I got the script,” she tells TVGuide.com. “It was like a kid in a candy store moment. I was just super giddy about it.”
"It started out as a joke. I guess there was a fan video put together with all the action and everyone getting beat up and shot, and we’re like, ‘JJ’s done nothing but shoot a dog [in Season 2’s "The Big Game"]. That was the most danger she’s faced! It’s her turn!’" Cook says. "It was that realization it’s my time to get beat up — it’s kind of like a rite of passage on the show — and then I really started pushing it."
Not that she had to do too much begging. The producers and writers, who sit down with the actors before every season to chat and brainstorm ideas, were happy to fulfill her request, especially since JJ is now a full-fledged profiler. “It makes sense now that she’s in the field more. I think we didn’t do it earlier this season because she had to get used to being back and having [her son] Henry at home,” Cook says, referring to the cast upheaval last season when CBS dropped her and Paget Brewster before rehiring them this year. “But you’ll see, there’s no hesitation or anything with her when she confronts [the unsub]. I don’t know what people think [JJ’s fighting skills] might be, but she’s pretty badass — I’m just saying!”
That’s mostly because Cook herself is active in real life and loves “being physical and working out.” In fact, she surprised the show’s stunt coordinator, Tom Elliott, with her skills during training.
"Tom didn’t know that I was a physical person — that I can do a roundhouse kick, so we incorporated that in. It was fun because he was discovering stuff that I can do that he didn’t know," she says. "We just sort of started choreographing this dance, I guess you can say. It was a lot of fun — a really creative process. … On the day of, when we were all costumed up, it was awesome. We actually got some really great behind-the-scenes footage that I think the fans should keep an eye out for — we walk through the stunt process and they filmed me getting the beat-up makeup on."
As with any good fight, JJ will have some bruises and blood to show for it, but Cook emerged from the stunt injury-free. “I’m a pro! Not bad for my first one, huh?” she says. “We did have one close call. There’s a knife involved and thank goodness it was a dummy knife! It was my own fault because I hesitated for a split second. It could’ve been a lot more ugly had it been a real knife, but there have been some gnarly stories, even with prop knives, so I was lucky.”
After the final punch is thrown, Cook just hopes that fans will see JJ differently — or at least more than just the sympathetic nurturer of the BAU.
"I think her being a mother, there’s always going to be that ‘mother hen’ nature about her," she says. "JJ’s still going to juggle being a mom and being an agent, and she’s still going to listen to victims, but this episode, you’ll see how tough she is. She holds her own. She is a tough, butt-kicking cookie. She’s come a long way from the girl who was scared of the dogs! It’s a very revealing episode."
In that vein, the episode will also reveal an “interesting” relationship between JJ and another member of the team. Don’t worry — it’s nothing romantic (JJ’s still with Will [Josh Stewart]), but it is “eye-opening,” Cook says. “Let’s just say it will fill in the blanks a little bit more as to what she had been doing the past year.”
And now that she’s got her first brawl underneath her belt, when will the next one be? “I have no idea, but I hope soon,” Cook says. “I have to start all over again and ask!”
TVLINE | What kind of case is at hand? I’m afraid I’m going to give something away, but… there’s this guy who’s trying to get his son back while going through this messy divorce, and he finds out he’s sick, so he is sort of killing people along the way. Things sort of come to a head toward the end where we figure out where he may be, with his son. The team darts off like superheroes, and we all split up, and I find myself face-to-face with this unsub.
TVLINE | What sorts of firsts did the episode present you with as an actress? There’s a huge fight scene at the end between me and the unsub, and it’s incredible. I’m a very physical person so I’ve sort of been asking them for a while to get me out there. We also actually find out some interesting things as to what JJ had been up to while she was away [for the back half of Season 6]. There’s a cool little moment between her and one of the other team members where you’re like, “Huh – who knew?!” I really liked that as well, finding out a little more about JJ and her relationship with one of the other team members. Ooh, how’s that for a tease!
TVLINE | Is it that she took, like, Krav Maga lessons with someone during her time away? Or is the fight scene a bunch of clumsy elbows to the jaw? We’ll have to find out, won’t we? But yeah, it’s ugly…. [Laughs] But she holds her own. She holds her own.
TVLINE | There are photos of JJ with blood all over her – it must get ugly. I can’t wait until it airs. I’m going to tweet a picture when it gets closer to the airdate, when I have permission. It’s such a great picture, and I’m sure it’s going to spark everyone’s interest as to how she got that way.