Whether on the slopes of North Lake Tahoe or the set of Criminal Minds, Thomas Gibson keeps his focus
By Hudson Morgan
ON MOST DAYS, Thomas Gibson can be found in climates of surf (Los Angeles, where he stars in the G-man drama Criminal Minds) or turf (San Antonio, where his wife and three kids live). Today, however, he's on snow, schussing his way down a black diamond at Northstar-at-Tahoe Resort in a pair of fold-up Persol sunglasses—Steve McQueen on skis.
Not that the former Dharma & Greg star is taking it too seriously: When a dude in a vintage teal snowsuit glides by us, Gibson can't help but joke, "The Stein Eriksen onesie—that's the look you want." A few hours—and more than a few trips up and down the mountain—later, Watch! sat with the 49-year-old actor at The Ritz-Carlton's slopeside restaurant, Manzanita, for an après-ski interview.
WATCH!: What's San Antonio like? It's not too hard-core Sovereign Republic of Texas, right?
THOMAS GIBSON: It's not. There are bumper stickers in Austin that say "Keep Austin Weird." San Antonio's is "Keep San Antonio Lame." [Laughs.]
WATCH!: Have you been to Lake Tahoe before?
THOMAS GIBSON: I skied here 12 years ago, and the last time I was here it was 5 degrees and the people I was with insisted on eating lunch outside.
WATCH!: We'll stay inside today. So, Criminal Minds: sixth season, 15 million viewers a week. Not too shabby.
THOMAS GIBSON: God, it's amazing, isn't it? You give us 42 minutes, we'll get you your unsub [short for "unknown subject" of an investigation]. It's all about putting the world right every week and getting your guy. Also, never underestimate the American public's taste for murder and mayhem.
WATCH!: Did you ever think it would be this big?
THOMAS GIBSON: It was a good pilot, but you never know. We were put up against Lost, which was great because we were not expected to do anything but finish second. Which we did.
WATCH!: I think they call that the soft bigotry of low expectations.
THOMAS GIBSON: [Laughs.] It's the key to success in everything! My golf game, skiing and my wife might say my marriage.
WATCH!: What does your wife do?
THOMAS GIBSON: She's finishing her master's while juggling home, hearth and three kids. She's interested in an emerging field called somatic psychology. She promises that she'll explain it to me! [Laughs.] All I know right now is it seems to be a nexus of all her interests.
WATCH!: Do you let your children watch Criminal Minds?
THOMAS GIBSON: Noooo, they've never seen it. They're 11, 8 and 6. Maybe when they're 40. We were watching the bad Michael Bay movie—that's redundant!—Transformers. And one of the characters said, "Bros before hos." And I said, "You know what? This is not appropriate." But some of my kids' friends come up to me and say, "I saw your show!" And I say, "Well, I certainly hope you didn't, because that's not OK."
WATCH!: "And, uh, stay away from my children."
THOMAS GIBSON: Exactly. Even my wife finds it very disturbing. She's seen a few but not many. Johnny Depp said he's doing all these parts for his kids, which is really cool, and I miss being able to do things my kids can watch. But I do a lot of traveling through airports and there are lots of people who watch Criminal Minds. It's amazing.
WATCH!: What kind of things do people say to you?
THOMAS GIBSON: I get a lot of "Best show on television," which is really nice. I used to get a lot of, "How's Dharma?" Even after the fact, for a while, even into the first couple seasons of this. [Former Criminal Minds star] Mandy Patinkin told a very funny story of being on an airplane and somebody saw him as they were passing by his row and without breaking stride they said, "I've enjoyed most of your work." [Laughs.] Like, did you really have to slip the knife in there so quickly?
WATCH!: Hilarious. Do you ever get anything like that?
THOMAS GIBSON: People do say, "What were you thinking, really, with Flintstones? Really? Psycho Beach Party? Really?" You know, they were both funny scripts! And they have their moments. The problem is, I grew up doing theater, and when the play's over, it's over. It disappears forever. These don't.
WATCH!: For better or worse.
THOMAS GIBSON: Residuals help keep my kids in school, but if there's a bad one, you know it's going to be around forever.
WATCH!: Are you leaning toward film or TV next?
THOMAS GIBSON: I feel like I've missed so much of my kids that continuing with this series for a little while longer would be OK, but if I did another TV series, they'd be gone. I have a short I want to direct based on this very bizarre Nicholson Baker short story called "Subsoil" about killer potatoes. It's great.
WATCH!: How much do you miss doing comedy?
THOMAS GIBSON: We have a table read before we start shooting every show and it's the only time we read it front to back out loud, and it's always so depressing. It's like, "Wow, do we really have to do that? Can't we maybe do a bedroom farce this week?"
WATCH!: But you did recently beat out 63 other nominees for Entertainment Weekly's Underappreciated Entertainer of the Year Award.
THOMAS GIBSON: I was overwhelmed to be so underappreciated! [Laughs.] Procedurals—and ours is a procedural with a twist, with a little bit more character development—are traditionally ignored by any of the awards stuff anyway. It would be nice to get the recognition, but it doesn't break anyone's hearts that we don't. It's all gravy.
A RESORT THAT'S THE PEAK OF LUXURY
Forget the Rockies. Never mind the Alps. The destination that has the snow set doing 360s is The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe, the first luxury hotel in North Lake Tahoe and the area's first new-build development in decades.
Nestled amid the Northstar-at-Tahoe ski resort, the 170-room aerie combines the novelty of a ski-in, ski-out alpine retreat—outdoor fire pits for roasting s'mores, gondola service to the local village, access to the only Burton Snowboard Academy in the country—with the glitz of any urban Ritz-Carlton.
Want a three-hour massage? Hit the 17,000-square-foot spa and fitness center.Don't want to schlep your own skis? Hello, ski valet! Craving fine dining? Try Manzanita, the French-inspired California cuisine restaurant where you can pair a bottle of, say, Vinoce sauvignon blanc with James Beard-winning chef Traci Des Jardins' warm bread salad with baby artichokes and Bellwether Farms Crescenza cheese.
Of course, The Ritz-Carlton isn't just a winter wonderland: Visit in the summer months for some of the best hiking, mountain biking and golfing this side of the Mississippi. And if you do happen to make it in time for ski season, just be ready for moguls—the snowy kind and the business kind. ritzcarlton.com/laketahoe