5 A-List Actors Who Blew Us Away With Their Criminal Minds Appearances

5 A-List Actors Who Blew Us Away With Their Criminal Minds Appearances
Image credit: CBS, Paramount+

Do you remember any of them from the original show?

Criminal Minds: Evolution has reimagined the fan-favorite CBS procedural. Now, each season has only ten episodes and features one major investigation by the BAU team, spiced up with the occasional secondary serial murder case.

While this format allows the show to focus on the beloved profilers and their personal lives, it also robs it of some of its more exciting aspects. For example, during the original run, Criminal Minds' creators packed one case into one episode, which led to a number of guest stars playing the unsubs and their victims.

In fact, there were so many celebrity cameos that it's become something of a hobby for Criminal Minds fans to hunt for familiar faces that only appeared in one or two episodes. Even A-list actors make the list from time to time. Here are five of the most notable examples.

Evan Peters

Character: Charlie Hillridge, the kidnapped kid

Appearance: S5E16 Mosley Lane

Before his chilling performance in Dahmer, Evan Peters had a few stints in the crime genre. The role that flew under the radar for many is Charlie Hillridge in the famous Season 5 episode Mosley Lane, directed by Matthew Gray Gubler.

Kidnapped at the age of 8 by the episode's unsubs, a family of sinister child abductors, Charlie was raised in their captivity and unwittingly became their partner in crime. In a gripping finale, he breaks out of his prison, helps the BAU apprehend the criminals, and finds his way back to his long-lost mother.

Sydney Sweeney

Character: Dani Forester, the victim of Miranda Dracar, the Fox's copycat

Appearance: S5E8 Outfoxed

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This is probably the cameo that nobody remembers. And even after seeing the brief (and devastating) scene in which Sweeney appeared, it is hard to recognize the wildly famous actress as Dani, the young daughter of the Forester family who was killed by a copycat killer mimicking the infamous BAU killer known as The Fox.

After all, Sweeney was only 12 when she made her mark on Criminal Minds. However, the girl's performance, especially in the heart-wrenching scene where Dani is held at gunpoint, showed her incredible talent even at such a young age.

Did you know that Sydney Sweeney used to be on Criminal Minds?

Elle Fanning

Character: Tracy Belle, the two-time serial killer survivor

Appearances: S2E6 The Boogeyman & S2E23 No Way Out II: The Evolution of Frank

Elle Fanning made a double appearance on Criminal Minds when she was just 8 years old. She portrayed Tracy Belle, the girl who survived two encounters with the BAU unsubs. In The Boogeyman, she narrowly escaped death at the hands of Jeffrey Charles, a chilling underage serial killer played by fellow child star Cameron Monaghan.

In the same season finale, Tracy found herself the target of a new assailant who was killing off victims rescued by the BAU. Fortunately, the team's intervention ensured Tracy's safety once again, leaving viewers to imagine her continued happiness in the Criminal Minds universe.

Aaron Paul

Character: Mike Zizzo, the BAU suspect

Appearance: S1E10 The Popular Kids

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Aaron Paul might not be immediately recognizable as the long-haired, eyeliner-clad Mike Zizzo, the leader of a self-proclaimed Satanic group opposing the local church in Season 1 of Criminal Minds.

Given his unconventional appearance and interests, the profilers suspect him of cult-related murders. As the story unfolds, however, it becomes clear that Zizzo and his group were framed, ultimately clearing the young charismatic man of any wrongdoing.

Amber Heard

Character: Lila Archer, the starlet who kissed Reid in the pool.

Appearance: S1E18 Somebody's Watching

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Perhaps the most surprising Criminal Minds cameo came from scandalous actress Amber Heard, who made a memorable appearance in Season 1 as Lila Archer, a beautiful Hollywood starlet whose stalker was killing potential threats to her career.

The BAU had to protect the woman, and Spencer Reid stayed at her house, leading to a famous scene of a particularly steamy kiss in a pool.

Criminal Minds: Evolution Season 2 releases the first two episodes on June 6 on Paramount+, with eight more installments to follow each Thursday.