Longtime Criminal Minds writer/co-executive producer Virgil Williams has broken his silence on the on-set altercation that ultimately got original cast member Thomas Gibson fired, after 11 seasons as Aaron Hotcher.
While filming the second episode of Season 12 in late July, Gibson “came to me with a line change that he wanted,” Williams explained while hosting a recent workshop at the Ghetto Film School in Los Angeles, People.com reports. “I felt that change would have hurt the story. I offered him a fix. He didn’t accept the fix. He said, ‘Fix it so I’m happy’ and then walked off.”
Following a second conversation about the line change, Gibson kicked Williams in the shin as he walked by him, the producer claims.
According to Gibson’s own account of the incident, he was relating the differing of opinions to castmates when Williams entered the room and “started coming towards me. As he brushed past me, my foot came up and tapped him on the leg.”
Afterward, “We had some choice words, for which I apologized the next day,” Gibson said. “We shot the scene, I went home — and I never got to go back,” suspended as he originally was for two episodes, before eventually being fired, as announced on Aug. 12.
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As for writing out Hotch (who is currently away on special assignment for the FBI Director), Williams said, “It hasn’t been smooth… but we tried to do it seamlessly and move on.”
Williams — who reportedly has anger management issues of his own, and who copped to once being suspended from a set for raising his voice — claims that Gibson created a “hostile work environment.”
That said, “I pray for him. I hope that he’s getting time with his family,” Williams said. “I hope the best for the guy.”