*EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW* Paget Brewster on Coming Home, Emily’s Future!

paget-brewster1*EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW* Paget Brewster on Coming Home, Emily’s Future!

Our Ms. Brewster has the unique status of having come and gone more than any of her compadres within the history of the show. We railed when she was fired, cheered when she was rehired, and booed (but tried to remain supportive) when she left again on her own terms. Now she’s BACK on her own terms, to much fanfare, and Emily Prentiss’s experience in running Interpol for the last 4 years has primed her to now lead the BAU as Unit Chief. Paget graciously gave up part of her weekend to chat with all of us, and I think you’ll all be pleased to read what she had to say!

“You have to fight for what you want!”

TJ: Hello there! Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to talk to us. I’d like to start by asking you how you came to Criminal Minds. What attracted you to the role of Emily Prentiss, and could you share what the audition process was like for you?

PB: No, thank you for taking the time out of your day to talk with me, Tari.  I met the original cast of Criminal Minds in Vancouver in 2005 when they were shooting the pilot, then called “Quantico”, and I was shooting a CBS TV movie called Amber Frey: Witness For The Prosecution.  A year and a half later, while shooting another TV movie in New Orleans, I called my agents and said I was tired of living in hotels, flying back and forth and never being home. I had shot four movies in a row and I missed being on an actual TV show. I hated that kind of life and begged them to send me out for TV shows only.

Two days later my agent called and asked me if I would meet with the producers of Criminal Minds. I had watched the show since it began airing and had always been one of those people who read everything about serial killers, watched every documentary and true crime show so I was very excited. When I flew home I met with Ed Bernero, Simon Mirren, Chris Mundy and Mark Gordon.

They started telling me about the show and I told them I watched it, they seemed happy and they started talking about the episode they were writing that week. I recognized the story from a Dr. Michael Stone interview I had seen paget-smiles-turtleneckso I said, “Are you basing this on ‘The Toy-Box Killer’?” And they just stared at me for a minute. I think Simon started laughing and Ed said “How do you know about that?” and I said “I’m one of THOSE people… you know what I mean.” I think they said they were THOSE people too, and that I would be auditioning with Thomas Gibson in a few days.

I was offered a series regular role in a pilot for another network the next day so Criminal Minds just up and offered me the part of Emily Prentiss a day later. There was technically no audition process – only a meeting where they discovered I might be just the serial killer studying actress and CM fan they were looking for.

TJ: What were those first days like, in finding your character? Strauss brought Emily in as a spy to eliminate Hotch, but she didn’t play ball. Do you find it ironic that now Prentiss is replacing him?

PB: I don’t see it as ironic because I don’t consider Emily to be replacing Hotch. Nobody can replace Hotch. He suggested she become the Unit Chief and Emily feels immense gratitude toward Hotch for his support and confidence in her. It allows her to return to the BAU family without backtracking in her career, remember she was running Interpol for the last 4 years. I think it sent a great message about female empowerment, respecting our careers as women, as well as the notion of coming home.

TJ: Emily seems fearless, at times. Almost able to switch off certain emotions to get the job done, yet she has never come off as cold or uncaring – quite the opposite. What’s it like to walk that fine line, as an actor?

PB: I am so flattered that you think I’m doing that well! I have always been fascinated by first responders, detectives, police officers, firefighters, EMTs, profilers, our own Criminal Minds FBI consultants… they interact with people on what is usually the worst day of that person’s life, and they have most critical role to play in those hours, days, weeks, sometimes years.

But they themselves are still human beings with wit, compassion, regret and fear. I am endlessly impressed by their ability to dedicate their lives to seeking justice for victims while seeing the worst sides of humanity as well. I can only imagine how difficult that kind of life must be. That is my job – imagining it – and I pray I do my job well enough to truly honor all of our real life heroes.

TJ: Television is quite different now compared to when you first joined the team. What do you think are the benefits vs. the drawbacks of the ‘Golden Age’ that’s occurring right now?

PB: Well the benefits are outstanding writing and thousands of options to choose from. I love watching television. It’s what I do when I get home at the end of the work day, it’s what I do in the morning before I head to work! And I love that most of my friends: actors, crew, writers, directors, are all working now.

The only drawback I can imagine – and this is pretty “Grumpy Old Lady” of me to say – is that we now don’t have the common bond of all watching I Love Lucy or 60 Minutes together as a nation. The amount of choices sends us all off into our own TV orbits and I wonder if sports are the last holdout. I watched the Cubs win the World Series and it felt great! I haven’t watched sports in years so I’m completely guilty of doing the very isolated thing that I regret.

I also have a little bit of a grudge – again, Grumpy Old Lady –  against all of the movie stars who looked down on TV actors like myself and my peers for decades and then suddenly realized that TV is great. Now they are taking jobs away from all of the actors who battled it out in this medium when it was mocked. Movie stars take the TV jobs, so TV actors go to animation recording voices that then become movies that hire movie stars. I think this was a bit done by comedian Dana Gould. He gave my first acting job in TV.

TJ: Can you tell us what your favorite role has been, aside from Emily? And why that particular character?

PB: Besides Emily Prentiss, my favorite role is playing Dodo Bellacourt in Comedy Central’s  Another Period. Our second season just finished airing and we start shooting the third season this Spring. It’s “The Kardashians” meets dodo-laughsDownton Abbey, about an obscenely wealthy (and just plain obscene) family in 1905 Newport, Rhode Island. I play the matriarch of the Bellacourts who has a British/Atlantic mash up accent, a morphine addiction, a cheating husband, a basement full of servants and three remorseless, horrible grown children.

I’ve known most of the cast and the writer/producers Natasha Leggero and Riki Lindhome for years. There are no dressing rooms, no trailers, no special effects, no stunt people – it is a bare bones comedy troupe putting together the most beautiful looking, and hilariously dirty show ever made. And all out of love for the story and the creators. I’m incredibly proud of it and so thankful that the producers of Criminal Minds and CBS and ABC Studios are allowing me to continue doing Another Period while I’m on Criminal Minds.

TJ: One of my favorite Emily episodes is Demonology. You struck just the right chord of vulnerability, balanced with her innate strength. Her sense of justice was deep and heavy in this episode, as were her younger self’s insecurities, and it was one of the most visually beautiful Prentiss episodes. How were you able to get into her younger self’s mindspace to bring all of that out?em-demon

PB: I’m tempted to not answer this question because I feel so bad about what I’m going to say. We shot that episode 7 years ago and I simply don’t remember enough to answer this question. In my defense, it takes about 800 hours of shooting to create each 42 minute show and we shoot ten months straight in a year to make a season. I have to wipe out my memory banks to make room for new stories and lines every week (We do talk about it at work that our fans know WAY more than we do about our own show….).

TJ: A while ago, it was rumored that Emily may have been dating a woman at some point. Now that she’s back for good, and network constraints aside, what would you think about playing her as bisexual or realizing she’s gay?

PB: Prentiss being a lesbian was an idea brought up by Ed Bernero when he ran Criminal Minds years ago and I said yes. I don’t remember why that story idea went away but I embrace everything our writers create. I would be happy to play Emily as bisexual or gay because I trust our team would do it well and honorably.

If Emily were to get a female love interest in the future I hope she’d be played by Gwendoline Christie from Game Of Thrones or Joanna Gaines from Fixer Upper. I think those two ladies are exceptionally talented at what they do and very sexy.

TJ: CM is known for hiring and being supportive of women directors, and also having cast members like Joe, Matthew, and Thomas direct. Would you ever want to step behind the cameras and direct an episode?

PB: Ha ha… that old adage, every actor thinks “What I truly want to do is direct”. Nope. Directing looks like being pecked to death by a thousand chickens. Everyone has questions for you all day, every day, you never get the money, permits, cast or time to truly realize your vision so it’s a constant battle of compromises. It’s not for me. I like to do just one thing and scrabble really hard to do it well enough to keep doing it. I’m laser focused on that acting, though!!

TJ: What is your favorite episode of Criminal Minds, and why is it a standout for you?

PB: My favorite episode of Criminal Minds is whatever episode we are currently shooting that I am in. I’m not kidding. I’m so thankful to have this job back again, I love every single day at work. Even in the rain at 5am in the woods an hour and a half away from my home. I love it.

TJ: Your sense of humor is well known and often on display (Another Period, TAH, Friends, Grandfathered, Drunk History, twitter posts, fake ‘feud’ with Krish, etc…), can you tell us if you prefer working in comedy or drama, or do you enjoy both equally? Which is the most difficult?

PB: After being on Criminal Minds (on and off) for the last 11 years I have finally landed in my Dream Scenario. I get to satisfy my drama cravings on Criminal Minds and my comedy cravings with Another Period. I love them both, they are both challenging in their own way and when I’m only doing one, I miss the other. I’m very fortunate but – okay, truth be told – I fought like Hell in the contract negotiation to get them both so, my friends, you have to fight for what you want.

TJ: Who’s your best bud among your co-workers?

PB: Oof. This is too hard of a question… I love them all in different ways for different reasons. I need Joe’s advice. Need it, bug him for it and depend upon it. There is no one like Joe Mantegna. He is wise, funny, loving, thoughtful, gifted, and honest. Joe is the example of humankind in it’s highest form. He has taught me and inspired me more than anyone I’ve ever worked with.

paget-weddingGubler is my non-biological brother, and a remarkable artist and thinker in everything he does. He’s my husband’s best friend so I saw him all the time when I wasn’t on CM, and I owe him, in perpetuity, for introducing – and marrying me – to Steve. I missed working with Gube and I cherish every moment we get to act together again now that I’m back.

But I always hung out with all of the ladies the most. Brunches, pool hangs and Kirsten’s for cheese plates. I think a big part of that has been finding each other in a business that promotes women competing against each other. All of us, AJ, Kirsten, Aisha and I , are women who strongly support other women. It’s rare and finding each other in what can be – pardon my cussing – a bullshit Hollywood World is miraculous and we treasure it.

At my first table read of the script when I joined Criminal Minds in season 2, episode 9, in 2006, AJ and Kirsten walked up to me afterward and said “Hey, do you want to hang out, we could have brunch…?” I almost started crying because they were so welcoming and supportive. Sadly, actresses are generally so poorly treated by this business that an established cast wouldn’t behave that way with “the new chick”. It was a profound moment for me and we have been very close since that moment. I love those women.

da-girlsAlso, none of these relationships have changed over the years, even when I wasn’t on the show for four years. They are, have been, and will always be the family I choose.

TJ: I love that. What are your hopes for Emily? Where do you want to see her in another 10 years?

PB: Joe and I have joked since 2007 that we’d be on Criminal Minds using walkers with tennis ball feet to chase down the bad guys. We were always only half joking… we all love doing this show and there have been changes, some good, some bad, some necessary. Life has surprises for us all and the measure of our character is how we deal with those changes. We can only do our personal best, day by day, to make this world a better place for all of us.

My hopes for Emily are the same as my hopes for myself: to continue to work hard in this job, to do my very best even when it hurts physically or emotionally, to care for my co-workers and our fans, and enjoy my loved ones no matter what challenges the future holds.

THANK YOU, PAGET! 

 

 

30 thoughts on “*EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW* Paget Brewster on Coming Home, Emily’s Future!

  • November 21, 2016 at 1:07 am
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    My favorite part was when she described the close relationship between all the women. I LOVE that they have all been supportive of each other since day one. That really made me smile and I support a cast like that. THAT is why this show, despite major changes, will go on and is still loved by so many.

    What an AMAZING interview!!

    PS: “Directing looks like being pecked to death by a thousand chickens” is by far my favorite line!

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    • November 21, 2016 at 5:25 pm
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      I too love what she said about the women, and about the others, too. Without fail, everyone has said something similar about Joe. He must be a really rare human. And thank you, I’m glad you enjoyed the interview. 🙂

      Heh heh, 1000 chickens…

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  • November 21, 2016 at 7:07 am
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    This is fantastic! I love Paget, she is gracious, charming and a real class act. I’m so glad she’s back and even more glad she gets to continue with Another Period as well.

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  • November 21, 2016 at 9:30 am
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    I love PB, but I am a bit worried about episode 13 and if Gubler is leaving. Maybe I am reading too much from her responses. Really hope we have the magnificent 5 + 3 newbies + a bit of Shemar for the rest of season 12. And I really, really want Mr. Scratch to now target Emily. Imagine him trying to torture her with Ian Doyle? or with her time in Rome? So many great stories could be written from Emily’s long and eventful tenure in CM.

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    • November 21, 2016 at 5:26 pm
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      You don’t have to worry about Gube.

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    • November 22, 2016 at 9:30 pm
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      I am in the minority, but I would love Reid and Emily to get together. At first he was just a boy, but he’s grown to such a man, just right kind of energy Emly would need!

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  • November 21, 2016 at 12:59 pm
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    It’s so great to have her back!

    Emily should definitely get a girlfriend. That would make for a great character arc, as long as it didn’t follow the tired media trope of killing off the GF as a plot point.

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  • November 21, 2016 at 6:55 pm
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    I loved this interview! You asked some really interesting questions!! The only thing you didn’t ask that I wish we could have heard about is whether she’s missing having Thomas on set/working with him, her thoughts on the whole thing etc. but I assume all the cast/crew are still on gag order and can’t talk about it so I understand why you didn’t ask.

    But all the same it was still an awesome interview! Thanks 😀

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    • November 21, 2016 at 7:24 pm
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      There were actually a few questions I asked that she wasn’t able to answer (you’re correct), and a variation on that very question was one of them. Glad you liked the interview, she did mention that she’d never talked so much about herself in her life! I thought she gave great answers. 😀

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      • November 22, 2016 at 1:46 pm
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        You asked great questions, well done. Did you get any sort of vibe that Thomas was missed by her, or a kinda “oh not that asshole” thing lol?

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        • November 22, 2016 at 3:41 pm
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          You know, she straight-up told me she was sorry but that she wasn’t there and she couldn’t discuss it at all, so no vibes were given. I considered the matter dropped as of right then.

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  • November 21, 2016 at 8:26 pm
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    Terrific interview! I love how PB mentioned the amount of hours put into the making of an episode. I can’t imagine seeing it broken apart scene by scene, script page by page then see the magic of how everyone puts it all together. .. it’s just mind boggling. I’d love to see it, just once, start to finish, like they do. It gives me such an appreciation for the whole of it.

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    • November 21, 2016 at 9:57 pm
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      Glad you enjoyed! I hear you, all of that interests me no end, too. And it speaks to how hard they all work to give us our show. Every day.

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  • November 21, 2016 at 10:13 pm
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    This is a lovely interview. She seems like such a cool, friendly, down to earth person, and I’m glad that all the BS that the network put her through years ago hasn’t soured her on working on CM itself, and that she’s still as close as ever with the cast. I love that the female cast members get on so well on this show, and that the show allows their characters to be so close, and doesn’t have that ridiculous “pitting women against each other” crap that so many other shows have. It’s such a refreshing change of pace.

    And I still love that Gubler officiated her wedding :D. It’s adorable and sweet how close they are, too.

    Regarding Emily having a girlfriend, I’d be all for it, and I love that she’s so supportive of the idea, too! If CBS ever wants to be bold enough to go that route someday, that’d be awesome.

    Lovely interview with her. Thanks for sharing it with us!

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    • November 21, 2016 at 11:02 pm
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      *likes everything about this post*

      And thank YOU.

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  • November 22, 2016 at 5:57 am
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    I am so happy she is back. Paget always conduct herself with dignity and honesty. Having her back was my dream. The dynamics with her as Unit Chief will be very interesting and how she separates being JJ, Reid and Garcia’s best friend and also their boss. Hotch was emphatic but he never too off the boss mask.

    I really hope CM can work thru these cast changes and any financial issues and get a renewal for Season 13. The #nohotchnowatch people don’t get it: if you do not connect with a show just stop watching it (I had my issues after CM Season 7) but never wish a show to fail because you bailed out (I was always concerned with their renewals and contracts even in my Prentiss mourning phase).

    Tari, any possibility of interviewing Erica Messer? We could use some spoilers and info of the crossover episode with CMBB.

    Gracias amiga

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    • November 22, 2016 at 10:04 am
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      Hola! I imagine Erica’s the busiest of them all, what with managing two shows at once. Good thing she has Breen to steer the mothership, and Ian on BB. If I were able to interview her, I’d find out as much as I could, although they can’t always share as much as they’d (or we’d) like. Still, it’s nice to know what everyone’s thinking and wanting to hear about.

      Keep watching this space for updates, and thanks for reading! 😀

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  • November 22, 2016 at 11:15 am
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    I’m really glad to see that she’s back on the show.

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  • November 22, 2016 at 4:00 pm
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    First of all, Paget Brewster is back for good and I absolutely love that. Second of all, the answers that she gave were completely honest and true to herself, but they were written in such an intelligent way; I’m surprised that “Paget Twitter Mode” didn’t apply to here. She’s just so freaking amazing and quirky, but she’s smart and honest, which makes me love her to death.

    As for her being bisexual or being a lesbian, I would just love that to happen at some point in time. It might be the fact that CBS doesn’t like it, but that was years ago, and this is today. I think during that time, things would’ve changed at some point. It makes so much sense for her to be a bisexual person (because we all know that they are under-represented in TV) than to just be straight.

    I also loved the fact that she mentioned the amount of hours that they spent on CM. On any TV show, that just shows how much work they put into one episode for our enjoyment. I love writing, and maybe one day, I would just love to work as a writer as a popular TV show. That comment just made that pathway a little bit more visible to me.

    Even though all of my questions weren’t answered (like what’s her favorite cheese), it was very kind of her to sit down and be able to do an interview with you. I think that shows how much these people are willing to put away some time do genuine interviews with people like you. Thank you PB for your answers, and thank you Tari for making this happen.

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    • November 22, 2016 at 5:14 pm
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      I’m delighted you enjoyed the interview, thank you for reading, and as always, your comments are cogent and perceptive! 😀

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  • November 22, 2016 at 4:32 pm
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    Whole interview was great, awesome to have you back paget ,
    As for being bisexual/gay hell yeah as a fan of show this be great to see be even better if it was with co worker JJ but still all in for this, well done to all cast and crew for criminal minds show

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  • November 22, 2016 at 7:11 pm
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    This interview is fantastic! Great questions and wonderful, authentic answers!

    I’ve met Paget a few times and can actually hear her saying all of this. She is just one of the most humble, funny, witty, self-deprecating and kind people I’ve ever met. I’m so happy she is back on the show, and her “girl power” and amazing relationships with the women on CM has actually fostered and helped me find my own group of ladies from across the country who are my closest girlfriends. We like to say Paget brought us together!

    Thank you for this interview! You really got some great conversation going with P! Can’t wait to see more from you! 🙂

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    • November 22, 2016 at 8:33 pm
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      Hey, that’s really nifty that you’ve met her! Yes, I agree with all you’ve said about her personality, and congratulations on your “Paget-curated” circle of friends. So glad you enjoyed her responses, and the interview. To see more chats with behind-the-scenes CM folks, just peep the “Interviews” tab up top!

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  • November 23, 2016 at 8:24 am
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    I really have to say that I prefer that they make any new character gay, bisexual etc. Because that for me would feel much more organic and will allow the writers and audience to learn about, grow and love them. Since CM is quite inconsistent with their continuity and based on what we know of Prentiss at this point (and her previous relationships) it would feel more like a stunt than a genuine effort to show diversity from our BAU superheroes. Hope they explore that in the future.

    Reply
  • November 23, 2016 at 1:19 pm
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    I read the article because I was wondering her thoughts about Thomas and if she missed him. I surely miss tremendously and this show is different. She never mentioned Thomas nor Shemar, but hey…girl power! Thx

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  • December 4, 2016 at 10:26 pm
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    Thank you for this amazing interview!! It’s the best interview done to Paget yet (that i’ve read). I would soo love the lesbian/bi story arc for Emily, but let’s be honest, CBS is never gonna go for it. Please try to get an interview with the Gube! That would make my year! hahaha.

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    • December 5, 2016 at 1:39 pm
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      Mine too, actually! 😉

      Although Paget made this one especially fun!

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  • December 4, 2016 at 11:43 pm
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    Love Paget and her character Emily. Love how the cast actually really likes each other. Makes the show that much better. Em definitely needs a good. Prefer it be JJ, but suppose that ship has sailed.

    Thanks for the interview Tara & Paget!

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    • December 5, 2016 at 1:40 pm
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      Thank YOU for reading!

      Reply
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