The big break: Catching up with Beaman native and "Criminal Minds" actor Mike Kruse

Beaman native and 2008 BCLUW High School graduate Mike Kruse (pictured) recently wrapped up shooting on an episode for the 15th and final season of "Criminal Minds," which will air this fall. (Photo courtesy of Mike Kruse) 

When 2008 BCLUW graduate Mike Kruse moved west to pursue an acting career in 2012, an acquaintance told him that he’d probably have to put in five to 10 years before landing a major part. As it turned out, her prediction was right on the money.


Kruse, who’s starred in national ad campaigns with companies like Skechers and McDonald’s and acted in a Hallmark Christmas movie, has finally scored a dream role on one of the most popular television shows of the 21st century. This fall, he’ll play a suspect named Billy Hanes on an episode of “Criminal Minds.”


The upcoming 15th season will be the final installment of the wildly popular FBI procedural on CBS, and although Kruse can’t reveal much about the plot or the arc for obvious reasons, he recently spoke to The Grundy Register in a wide-ranging interview about the auditioning process, what lies ahead and how to make it in Hollywood. A transcript of the conversation, lightly edited for clarity, appears below.


Grundy Register: First off, big congratulations. (Landing the role) is a pretty cool achievement. We’ve talked previously about your spots in a national advertising campaign for McDonald’s and the Hallmark Christmas movie. In your mind, is this your biggest role yet?


Mike Kruse: I think it’s my biggest strictly in terms that it’s my first major network TV show, and I’ve actually been auditioning for “Criminal Minds” since I moved to LA—so, five years now. I’ve gone to producers, and I’ve had some roles that I felt I was right for but just kept getting passed up on. So I’m very familiar with the casting team, and obviously, with the show. Finally, when I auditioned for this role earlier this year, I knew it was the right fit. I had a feeling that I could play it really unique in a way that maybe other people in town couldn’t, so I’m just grateful that they saw that as well.


“Criminal Minds” is one of the most watched shows on TV, and it’s become kind of an institution in the crime show canon over the last 15 seasons. How exciting is it to act on a show like that, and how much pressure comes with it? How much pressure do you put on yourself to perform?


It’s interesting because going into the audition, there’s a little bit of the typical nerves prior to reading for a role, but this one was one that I knew I was right for it and I was super passionate about it. There’s sometimes where I go into projects where I know that I’m probably not a right fit, so I audition and then I never expect to hear back from them. For this, I read for it, and I was kind of just waiting by the phone because I knew that this one might click in place.


Then, I got a call back, and the nerves kind of pick up more because I’m just getting closer to booking. The callback is basically the same scene except now you’re reading for 10 to 12 more people at the audition, and you’re meeting the director and the producers. The casting team likes you, but you’re kind of just seeing if the network and the show runners think you’re a good fit. 


I thought it went well, and then they put me on hold, which means you’re not officially booked, but you’re one of the top options. I was on hold for a few days, and then they finally confirmed me and said I was booked. That’s when the pressure kicked in because I not only was the right fit for it, but now I needed to perform and I needed to do this on the day when we’re actually filming.


My mind kind of looks ahead and gets a bit more concerned about my performance. I know that I can do it, but I actually want to hold my own against all these veterans that have been working forever. 


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