Joe Mantegna Talks 'Criminal Minds'

Joe Mantegna was, among others, Fat Tony on The Simpsons. Coming in as a replacement for Mandy Patinkin on Criminal Minds, then, did he have problems playing a subordinate? After all, his character David Rossi founded the BAU.

"That was planned," Mantegna, 62, tells If Magazine. "We would address it in the show, where I basically have a line where I tell the government official that I want to come back - I say, 'I don't want to come back to take over the unit. I trained the guy who's running the unit. I want to come back just because I want to come back.'"

In fact, Mantegna, who joined Criminal Minds in season 3 as Senior Supervisory Special Agent, finds it "interesting" that his character came back. He says it gives his character that old school feel, something he particularly enjoys.

"This guy's got a little bit to learn. He dropped off - he started the unit, then left, and it's passed him by in some respects. So a younger, more vibrant kind of guy, the fact that Thomas Gibson's character is the guy who spearheads the unit, I think is as it should be. He's like the senior pilot."

For him, however, that doesn't mean that his character takes the backseat. Hardly, in fact, since David Rossi has some pretty big responsibilities himself. He had retired to write books and do lecture tours, but returned to settle some unfinished business. And that will continue in season 5,

"I think everyone will be pleased - I think this fifth season for a show, an hour drama, is [creatively] right where it belongs."

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