Andrea Joy "A. J." Cook[1] (born July 22, 1978) is a Canadian actress known for her role as Supervisory Special Agent Jennifer "JJ" Jareau in the CBS crime drama Criminal Minds. She has also appeared in films such as The Virgin Suicides (1999), Out Cold (2001), and Final Destination 2 (2003).

Early life

Cook was born in Oshawa, Ontario, and spent most of her life growing up in 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 a severe astigmatism, but wore contacts and thick glasses to correct her vision. She eventually underwent surgery in 2007 where a lens implant was used to correct the impairment.[2][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 admitted that she still tap dances.


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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 captivating suicidal 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 rough-around-the-edges 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 did return 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] 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]

Personal life

Cook is a Mormon, but does not limit her acting solely to roles reflecting her beliefs.[12] 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[13] to be with him. They reside in Los Angeles, California with their two sons.[4]

In March 2008, it was reported that Cook and Andersen would be expecting their first child in September.[14][15] Their son, Mekhai, was born in 2008.[16] Mekhai makes a brief appearance as Henry LaMontagne in Criminal Minds, when Cook's character is buying children's medicine from a pharmacy.[17] He reprised the role in the two-hour season seven finale in 2012 and several other episodes throughout the series. In March 2015, Cook and Andersen announced they were expecting a second child. The couple's second son, Phoenix Sky, was born in July 2015.[18]

Cook is best friends with actress Meghan Ory.[19]



Year Title Role Notes
1997 In His Father's Shoes Lisa Movie
1997 Elvis Meets Nixon Hippie Chick Movie
1997 Goosebumps Kim Carter Episode: "Don't Wake Mummy"
1997 Psi Factor: Chronicles of the Paranormal Jill Starling Episode: "Second Sight/Chocolate Soldier"
1998 Psi Factor: Chronicles of the Paranormal Lee Mason Episode: "Hell Week"
2000 Spiral Staircase, TheThe Spiral Staircase Local Girl Movie
2000 Higher Ground Shelby Merrick Main role (22 episodes)
2000 First Wave Lindsay Tilden Episode: "The Flight of Francis Jeffries"
2003 Dead Like Me Charlotte Episode: "Sunday Mornings"
2003–2004 Tru Calling Lindsay Walker 21 episodes
2005 Bloodsuckers Fiona Movie
2005–present Criminal Minds Jennifer "JJ" Jareau Main role
2011 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Debbie Shields Episode: "Mask"
2011 Bringing Ashley Home Libba Movie
File:AJ Cook Oct 2010 (cropped).jpg


Year Title Role
1997 Laserhawk Pretty Girl
1999 Blue Moon Alison
1999 Virgin Suicides, TheThe Virgin Suicides Mary Lisbon
1999 Teen Sorcery Dawn
2001 Wishmaster 3: Beyond the Gates of Hell Diana Collins
2001 Ripper Molly Keller
2001 Out Cold Jenny
2002 House Next Door, TheThe 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


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  12. 2009 radio interview with A. J. Cook. Published on A. J. Cook's channel on YouTube.
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External links

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