Pop: This Year's Model

Posted on Jan 4, 2012 | 06:00am
What would Criminal Minds' Dr. Spencer Reid—myopic, introverted genius—make of the actor who portrays him, Matthew Gray Gubler, becoming a fashion muse and appearing in Vogue and glossy ad campaigns?
­ "I think his head would explode," Gubler says with a laugh. "He's read every book in the world, but probably nothing Anna Wintour has done. He wouldn't know what to make of it." But the 31-year-old actor is at ease straddling the worlds of acting and modeling. "I've always looked at all entertainment with the same perspective and lens," he says. "It's never been hard to switch between things."
Gubler's initial foray into the fashion world was accidental: In 2001, while attending New York University film school, he was approached by a scout for a Kate Spade campaign. Before long, "I'm in Paris opening up a Louis Vuitton show," Gubler says. "I'm like, ‘Holy smokes—I have to walk up there and not laugh!' It was a thing I knew very little about. It was like someone calling you and asking, ‘Hey, do you want to be an astronaut?' "
When it comes to assessing his looks, the Las Vegas native is charmingly self-deprecating. "It was during a time when modeling went away from the Zoolander buff, cool-guy thing and into—luckily for me—a scrawny, weird-eyed, longhaired thing," Gubler insists. "I caught it at the right time … or it caught me, rather."
Just as he was getting used to balancing his schedule between foreign runways and finals, Gubler got another big break. After working as an intern for director Wes Anderson, he got a call asking if he'd want to play a small part in Anderson's 2004 film, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. Steady acting work followed with roles in the film (500) Days of Summer and, beginning in 2005, TV's Criminal Minds. Modeling, he says, "helped me more as an actor than I gave it credit for. It's some of the hardest acting I've ever done—you don't have the words to hide behind."
Now his acting work is informing the fashion world; most recently, Bruce Weber photographed Gubler for both Vogue and Spanish Vanity Fair.
"I found out that he's a regular Criminal Minds watcher. He's one of the greatest American photographers alive today," Gubler says. "And the first thing he said when he met me was, ‘What's with Spencer's headaches?' "
("I watch Matthew on Criminal Minds all the time," Weber confirms. "He reminds me of the guys I went to boarding school with. He's not only good-looking, but smart on top of that and all the girls I know have crushes on him.")
While his Criminal Minds castmates may tease him about his fashion plate status, Gubler insists that his real-life sartorial choices are simple: "Most of my wardrobe I've had since high school."
His latest modeling work includes a campaign for Aldo, photographed by Terry Richardson.
"Some people were like, ‘Why did you do that? Why would you do a shoe campaign?' " Gubler says. "Some people have this weird thing in their minds about what successful actors should and shouldn't do.
"I've never believed in limiting myself. I don't see why someone can't be a model and an actor and a director." He pauses, and laughs. "To have someone say ‘No one's ever done that' seems like a great reason to do it."