A. J. Cook

Andrea Joy Cook[1] (born July 22, 1978),[2] known professionally as A. J. Cook, is a Canadian actress. She is best known for her role as Supervisory Special Agent Jennifer "JJ" Jareau on the CBS crime drama Criminal Minds (2005-2020). Cook has also appeared in The Virgin Suicides (1999), Higher Ground (2000), Ripper (2001), Out Cold (2001), Final Destination 2 (2003), and Tru Calling (2003–2004).

A. J. Cook
A.J.Cook crop.jpg
Cook in 2010
Andrea Joy Cook

(1978-07-22) July 22, 1978 (age 42)
Oshawa, Ontario, Canada
Years active1997–present
Nathan Andersen
(m. 2001)

Early lifeEdit

Cook was born in Oshawa, Ontario. She spent most of her life growing up in nearby Whitby, where she attended Anderson Collegiate Vocational Institute. She has three siblings: Nathan, Paul, and Angela. Cook was declared legally blind in the second grade because of severe astigmatism, but wore contacts and thick glasses to correct her vision. In 2007 she underwent surgery during which a lens implant corrected the impairment.[3] A dancer from age four,[4] Cook began taking jazz, tap and ballet lessons. She danced competitively for many years, before deciding at the age of 16 that she wanted to try acting. Cook also taught dance when she was younger and has stated that if she hadn't become an actress, she would most likely have set up a small dance studio somewhere. In an interview, she said that she still tap dances.


Cook's first job was in a McDonald's commercial in 1997. She graduated to series work with a guest role on the television series Goosebumps, and parts in two television movies, In His Father's Shoes and Elvis Meets Nixon. Cook launched her feature film career as one of five suicidal Lisbon sisters in 1999's The Virgin Suicides. Also that year, she took a starring role in the TV series Higher Ground, in which Cook played Shelby Merrick, a teenage girl dealing with abuse and heartache at a wilderness school for struggling kids. Higher Ground lasted one season, ending with a romance between Shelby and Hayden Christensen's character, Scott.

After Higher Ground, Cook appeared in the 2000 TV movie The Spiral Staircase (alongside Higher Ground alum Kandyse McClure), and then captured leading roles in several films, including Out Cold (as Jason London's love interest), Ripper, I'm Reed Fish, and Final Destination 2. In 2003, Cook guest starred in Dead Like Me. She was also in season one of Tru Calling as Lindsay Walker.

Since September 2005, she has starred as Jennifer "J.J." Jareau in the CBS drama Criminal Minds. On June 14, 2010, it was announced that her contract option would not be picked up for season six as a series regular reportedly due to budget cuts on the show,[5] but she returned for two episodes to wrap up her character's storyline due to thousands of letters and petitions written to the show's producers.[6] She also returned for one episode for the departure of Paget Brewster from the series.[7] On April 16, 2011, it was reported that she had signed to reappear for two more seasons of the show.[8] Cook would continue to star in the series until it ended in 2020 after 15 seasons.

Other venturesEdit

In 2013, it was announced she was hired as a spokeswoman for Proactiv.[9] She appeared in the January/February 2014 issue of Maxim magazine.[10] She was ranked at 88 on the Maxim Hot 100 2014 list.[11] She was the Grand Marshal for the STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, Virginia on April 3, 2016.[12]

Personal lifeEdit

Cook is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,[13] but does not limit her acting solely to roles reflecting her beliefs.[14] On August 3, 2001, she married her long-time boyfriend, Nathan Andersen. The two met in a film class at Utah Valley University, and she later moved to Salt Lake City, Utah[15] to be with him. They reside in Los Angeles, California with their two sons.[4]

In September 2008, their first son Mekhai Allan was born.[16][17] He makes a brief appearance as Henry LaMontagne in an episode of Criminal Minds, when Cook's character is buying children's medicine from a pharmacy.[18] He reprised the role in the two-hour season seven finale in 2012 and several other episodes throughout the series. The couple's second son, Phoenix Sky, was born in July 2015. He also appeared in Criminal Minds as JJ's second son, Michael.[19]



Year Title Role Notes
1997 Laserhawk Pretty Girl #1
1999 The Virgin Suicides Mary Lisbon
Teen Sorcery Dawn Direct-to-video
2001 Ripper Molly Keller
Wishmaster 3: Beyond the Gates of Hell Diana Collins Direct-to-video
Out Cold Jenny
2002 The House Next Door Lori Peterson
2003 Final Destination 2 Kimberly Corman
2006 I'm Reed Fish Theresa
2007 Night Skies Lilly
2008 Misconceptions Miranda Bliss
2010 Mother's Day Vicky Rice
2012 Least Among Saints Cheryl
2013 Wer Kate Moore
2019 Back Fork Nida


Year Title Role Notes
1997 Elvis Meets Nixon Hippie chick TV film
In His Father's Shoes Lisa TV film
Goosebumps Kim Episode: "Don't Wake Mummy"
Psi Factor Jill Starling Episode: "Second Sight/Chocolate Soldier"
1998 Psi Factor Lee Mason Episode: "Hell Week"
1999 Blue Moon Alison TV film
2000 The Spiral Staircase Local Girl TV film
Higher Ground Shelby Merrick Main role
First Wave Lindsay Tilden Episode: "The Flight of Francis Jeffries"
2003 Dead Like Me Charlotte Episode: "Sunday Mornings"
2003–2004 Tru Calling Lindsay Walker Main role in Season 1; 20 episodes
2005 Bloodsuckers Fiona TV film
Criminal Minds Jennifer Jareau Main role in seasons 1–5; 7–15; 16–present
recurring in season 6
2006 Vanished Hope TV film
2011 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Dr. Debbie Shields Episode: "Mask"
Bringing Ashley Home Libba TV film


Year Title Note
2019 Criminal Minds Episode: "Chameleon"


  1. ^ Sean Daly (February 1, 2003). "Whitby star reaches her Destination; Career, love life on roll Teen flick pure fun". Toronto Star. Retrieved September 27, 2009.
  2. ^ "Empire". Empire. August 17, 2015. Retrieved November 11, 2020.
  3. ^ Cartel, Mari (October 5, 2011). "A.J. Cook Seeing 'Criminal Minds' Clearer Thanks to a Medical Procedure". healthbistro.lifescript.com. Archived from the original on March 6, 2012. Retrieved January 5, 2012.
  4. ^ a b Braun, Liz (January 31, 2003). "A.J. Cook's career starting to sizzle". jam.canoe.ca. Archived from the original on October 21, 2013. Retrieved January 13, 2010.
  5. ^ Ausiello, Michael (June 14, 2010). "Breaking: 'Criminal Minds' drops A.J. Cook". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved July 7, 2015.
  6. ^ Ausiello, Michael (June 25, 2010). "'Criminal Minds' update: Cook and Brewster returning – but for how long?". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved July 7, 2015.
  7. ^ "A.J. Cook Returns to 'Criminal Minds' for Paget Brewster's Final Episode". Screen Rant. Retrieved July 7, 2015.
  8. ^ Ng, Philiana (April 16, 2011). "A.J. Cook Returning to CBS' 'Criminal Minds'". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on April 29, 2011. Retrieved April 16, 2011.
  9. ^ "AJ Cook for proactiv". Twitter. Retrieved May 7, 2014.
  10. ^ "AJ cook- maxim magazine". Retrieved May 7, 2014.
  11. ^ "Hot 100 - Maxim". Maxim. Archived from the original on February 2, 2015. Retrieved July 7, 2015.
  12. ^ "Criminal Minds Star AJ Cook To Serve As Grand Marshal For STP 500". Martinsville Speedway. April 3, 2016.
  13. ^ Pierce, Scott (April 3, 2015). "From Philo to Donny – 22 Mormons who made their mark on TV". The Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved April 30, 2016.
  14. ^ 2009 radio interview with A. J. Cook. Published on A. J. Cook's channel on YouTube.
  15. ^ The Arrow (April 21, 2002). "INT: A.J. Cook". Joblo presents Arrow in the Head. Archived from the original on February 20, 2012. Retrieved January 13, 2010.
  16. ^ "A. J. Cook Welcomes Son Mekhai Allan". People. Archived from the original on June 21, 2009. Retrieved March 2, 2009.
  17. ^ Wheat, Alynda (March 24, 2008). "Spring TV preview: Criminal Minds". Entertainment Weekly. New York City: Meredith Corporation.
  18. ^ Marsi, Steve (September 19, 2011). "Exclusive: A.J. Cook Previews Criminal Minds "Season for the Fans"". TVFanatic.com. Retrieved June 30, 2012.
  19. ^ Leon, Anya; Michaud, Sarah (July 23, 2015). "A.J. Cook Welcomes Son Phoenix Sky". People.

External linksEdit