'Criminal Minds' Paget Brewster on leaving: 'I'm probably in denial'

paget-brewster-red-carpet-nc-420.jpgPaget Brewster is doing her best not to think about her imminent exit from "Criminal Minds." Again.

With several weeks of filming left on the seventh season of the CBS mystery series, which airs a new episode tonight (Wednesday, March 21), the actress is in her last rounds as FBI Behavioral Analysis Unit Agent Emily Prentiss. It's a spot she knows only too well, having been written out of the show during the sixth year ... but this time, her departure is on her own terms.

Nevertheless, Brewster tells Zap2it, "I guess I'm probably in denial. I'm not thinking that far ahead, and I'll bet when I read that last script, I'm going to cry like a baby. And there's the possibility that later, the team might need Prentiss or 'Criminal Minds' might need Paget. And I'm game."

Brewster has seen both sides of the fan response to her decision to leave: "I made the mistake -- and so many actors do this -- of looking at message boards. It felt like half the people were saying, 'This is great, I want to see her do comedy,' and the other half were saying, 'What an ungrateful creep. She left, and then she came back, and now she's leaving again.'

"It hurt to read that people were mad. It made me feel bad. I understand how they feel, though. I'm a fan of shows, too, and I want my favorite characters to be where I want them to be. I'm touched and flattered that there's any kind of response to what I choose to do for a job. That's pretty unusual. The entire experience is bittersweet."

Executive producer Erica Messer has confirmed that the door is open to Brewster for future "Criminal Minds" guest appearances. The actress and her role will remain in the show's universe in any event, through frequent repeats on A&E and ION. Also citing the characters played by Mandy Patinkin and Lola Glaudini early in the run, she reasons, "These people live forever in that fictional world."

Brewster will be going back on the TV market at the tail end of pilot season. She's looking forward to being a free agent, at least for a while, but if an existing series should call for her services on a regular basis? "I don't want anybody to get fired!," she stresses from experience. "I would prefer to look at the possibility of a show adding cast members than at somebody being let go."
Photo/Video credit: Newscom
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