Zap2it : Your history with "Criminal Minds" has factored into your character JJ's history in an ever greater way. What's your take on that?
A.J. Cook: Our writers are really good at tapping into what's going on. They're not afraid to write what's really happening, and that's always how we've kind of done it ... with Mandy [Patinkin] leaving, then me leaving and other characters coming on, and the whole thing with Paget [Brewster, who left, then returned and then left again).
That whole monologue I gave in the episode where I left in Season 6, that was my voice and [the writers'] voice, and it really resonated with the audience. I think that's what's so lovely about our show, that we're not afraid to speak our truth and use our lives for our characters.
Zap2it: Since the year you were off the show has played into developing JJ's back story this season, are you satisfied with how things have evolved over the course of your "Criminal Minds" tenure?
A.J. Cook: It's been interesting, this whole journey. Whatever it was at the time, it was meant to be. I've just always believed in making lemonade out of lemons -- and I don't even like to call it "lemons," because it is what it is. It's life, and you learn.
I look at these things as opportunities to grow and to better myself and to prioritize what's really important in my life. It's been a beautiful thing, and we've also been able to see JJ grow a lot, which I'm grateful for.
Photo/Video credit: CBS