What You Don't Know About Matthew Gray Gubler

If you're a "Criminal Minds" fan, chances are, you're a big Matthew Gray Gubler fan, too. For 15 years, the actor played Dr. Spencer Reid, the genius special agent. But "Criminal Minds" isn't his only claim to fame. Over the years, the actor has also appeared in "500 Days of Summer, "R.V.: Runaway Vacation," "Dollface," and "Life After Beth."

As fans of Gubler probably know, his acting career isn't his only claim to fame — over the past few decades, the actor has become well-known for his unique brand of eccentricity. From his wacky website to his disturbing paintings to his bizarre children's book, Gubler is certainly an unconventional star. But one thing's for sure — he's one of the most creative and surprising actors on our screens today.

Curious to learn a little more about the "Criminal Minds" actor? Here are a few things you probably never knew about Matthew Gray Gubler.

Matthew Gray Gubler lives in a haunted tree house

There's no denying that Matthew Gray Gubler is something of an eccentric. Fans of the "Criminal Minds" actor will probably not be too surprised to learn that his house is predictably eccentric, too. In fact, Gubler himself calls his house a "haunted tree house." During a tour with Vanity Fair, the star showed off some of the "weird stuff" in his home.

Gubler began by showing off his "kimono closet" where he stores — you guessed it — his large collection of kimonos. He went on to describe how he redesigned the house to match the spooky Victorian exterior. His work included hand-building a brick fireplace that, as he put it, "looked like a drunk gnome had built it in the 1800s." His home is also filled with memorabilia from some of his film roles, including original artwork from "The Life Aquatic," his first film role. Gubler summed up his home life, saying, "I used to get beat up a lot as a kid ... now I'm a grown man who wears a kimono and makes stuffed animals and has teeth in his fireplace, so I'm doing alright."

He designed tote bags for the American Red Cross

It seems like Matthew Gray Gubler is constantly creating new things, and one of his perhaps lesser-known projects was creating tote bags for the American Red Cross in 2015. "In my quest to do every single thing imaginable, I love making shirts and stickers and buttons, and the totes were just ... a lot of bummers are going on in the world, and the Red Cross helps everyone, and I just wanted to do something to spread some cheer," he explained to Glamour. "So I made a 'I love the universe' picture and figured I could give the proceeds to that."

Gubler went on to explain that he also ended up creating children's blankets for the charity. "Every blanket sold, one will be given to a kid in need," he said. "I like the idea of giving things to people in need." It's pretty incredible to see how Gubler uses his creative mind to help others.

The actor makes stuffed animals in his spare time

Is there anything Matthew Gray Gubler hasn't tried? Well, based on the fact that his creative work has extended into making stuffed animals, our guess is, no. "I make stuffed animals — I'm trying to make stuffed animals," Gubler told Vanity Fair in 2015, showing off his collection of fantastical stuffed creatures in his office. He showed off various puppets, including a bright pink octopus with wide eyes and jagged teeth. "This is a[n] octopus because there's one — if there were two it would be octopi," he said with his characteristic straight face.

Gubler's love of stuffed animals extends to his everyday life, too. In fact, in 2018, he tweeted an image of his backpack containing a teddy bear. "Heads up, I always have a small teddy bear in my backpack," the actor wrote. While we aren't too sure how true this is, knowing Gubler, we wouldn't be surprised if he did have a permanent backpack teddy!

Matthew Gray Gubler makes bizarre portraits in his spare time

One of Matthew Gray Gubler's other creative outlets is painting and drawing. As you can probably imagine, his artistic work is, well, just as eccentric as he is. His main interest seems to be in drawing portraits. In an interview with Buzzfeed, the actor prefers to display his work on his website in a section called the "Museum" instead of showing it to people in person.

"Some people misinterpret my style of painting as offensive, and I've had instances where I've painted beautiful portraits for, like, a girlfriend or someone, and they're just like, they look at it with a grimace and they're like, 'This is terrible. I don't look like this, and you're awful, and you must hate me,'" he said. "And I'm crushed by it, so I kind of am weird about being in the room when it's shown." To be honest, we can't say we're too surprised that many of Gubler's subjects don't quite understand his work!

He's directed several episodes of Criminal Minds

When it comes to film and TV, Matthew Gray Gubler doesn't just thrive in front of the camera — he also enjoys getting behind the camera, too. In fact, over the years, the actor directed a total of 12 episodes of "Criminal Minds." He has also directed several music videos and short films in his time, too.

For Gubler, directing is one of his "main loves in life." The first time he directed "Criminal Minds," Gubler was slightly overwhelmed. "The first time around, I was so overly prepared, I was not prepared to act in my own episode," he recalled to Entertainment Weekly. "I was like, 'What the hell?'" However, over the years, Gubler became more and more comfortable in the director's chair.

After all, Gubler had initially wanted to be a director, not an actor. In fact, he trained at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts' film school and only got into acting by chance. "My peers knew I liked acting, so they'd be like, 'Go get that guy Gubler. He'll be in your student film,'" he told The Hollywood Reporter. It's no wonder that Gubler wanted to get back to his roots and direct a few episodes of the show, though.

Matthew Gray Gubler created a predictably eccentric website called Gublerland

If you want some insight into Matthew Gray Guber's mind, Guberland is probably the first place you should visit. Guberland is the actor's website — there, you'll find information about his art in the "museum," a store that sells merchandise and even a "cemetery" that contains things from Gubler's past. It's probably one of the strangest actor websites on the internet — and who would have expected anything less?

"With the Internet it's getting eerie in the lack of humanity and being able to fake someone's MySpace [page]," he said in explanation of his unique website design to the Post Gazette in 2006. "I wanted something nobody would fake." 

As he once described it in an interview with Mademoiselle Robot, the website is "a friendly playground on the internet where everyone is welcome except bullies and fascists. When I was little my favorite thing to do was play with puppets and toys. ... I'm doing the exact same thing only now instead of playing with plastic action heroes on my floor, I am now playing with pixel monsters I have drawn on my computer, and instead of doing all of this with my imaginary friend, I do it all with my real friend named Steve who helps bring them all to life."

The actor wrote a children's book in 2019

To add to his collection of creative projects, in 2019, Matthew Gray Gubler became an author with his first children's book, "Rumple Buttercup," which told the story of a Gubler-ian monster who lived in a drain. So how did he come up with this monster?

"Every morning I wake up and try to think of new ways to make things," he told Parade. "Rumple popped into my head a few years ago, and I, basically, wrote the book for anyone who's ever felt like they didn't quite fit in, just to make them know that they're not alone."

Apparently, Gubler was inspired by his own childhood. As a kid, he explained, he never quite fit in. Using Rumple Buttercup, Gubler hoped to send a message to children that it's okay to be different. "I knew that I was different, and so this book, to me, has always been more about embracing individuality as opposed to he's weird," he said. That's a pretty great message if you ask us.

Matthew Gray Gubler has done some professional modeling

Matthew Gray Gubler may be known for his acting (and directing, and writing, and craft-making), but there was a time when he was a model. According to TV Guide, the actor was scouted by a modeling agency while he was still a student. "It was during a time when there were really emaciated weirdos modeling," he said. "It wasn't like they were looking for Fabio." Apparently, he was even a top 50 model, according to models.com.

But as Gubler told the "Criminal Minds" Fan Club on Facebook, modeling wasn't actually all that different from acting. "Truly the hardest acting I've ever done has been modeling on runways," he said, "because all of a sudden you're, like, told to walk down this impossibly long, like, highway stretch of land, with, like, lights and pulsing, like, music and you're without a doubt wearing something so ridiculous ... and you're told to not laugh."

He wanted to be a magician as a child

Long before acting or directing became his ambition, Matthew Gray Gubler was fascinated by the world of magic. "I wanted to be a magician when I was a child," he told The West Australian. "Then I found the magic of filmmaking and loved acting in my own stupid movies." 

In a 2019 tweet, Gubler opened up about his childhood as an aspiring magician. Alongside images of him as a young magician, he wrote, "The best thing about being a 12 year old self employed magician with a pantry full of home-made jester hats was the free training I got magically escaping from all the lockers I was stuffed in."

These days, Gubler focuses more on acting than on magic — but he still likes to perform magic from time to time. "I would love to do more magic. ... I love ghost stories. I've had a lot of cool experiences with ghosts," he told Newsday. "My hope is to create a sort of merger, doing some kind of magic show. ... hopefully relating with like ghosts or Halloween."

He got his start as Wes Anderson's intern — both on and off screen

After graduating from film school, Matthew Gray Gubler didn't start auditioning straight away. In fact, his first steps into Hollywood were as an intern to none other than Wes Anderson. "I don't like to go 'medium' on anything," he told AnOther. "When I had to get an internship to graduate from film school, there was an easy way to do it, but I thought: 'F*** it! Wes Anderson's in New York and he's my favorite film maker!'" Apparently, Gubler wasn't an amazing intern. "Actually, I was the worst intern ever! Like, he would send me on shopping runs and I wouldn't know what couscous was, and ... I don't know," he said.

Even if Gubler wasn't a great intern, Anderson clearly saw something in him. In fact, he even cast him as an intern in his film, "The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou." 

"I owe him my acting career," Gubler told Backstage. "He's the best. It's a beautiful film that I'm so proud to have been a part of."

Matthew Gray Gubler prepares for his roles using this technique

So, how does Matthew Gray Gubler actually get into character before performing? Unsurprisingly, Gubler has his own unique, creative approach to acting. "For a character, I actually sketch them and create a painting of what they look like — a physical painting — and I keep that with me," he told Backstage. "I feel like through that I often capture nuances of the face, like, muscles in the face. And I let that seep in."

Then, Gubler works on creating the "richest, most thorough backstory anyone ever had" so that he understands his character's past. This way, he feels like he knows how his character would respond to any given situation. "I know how they would react to someone waving to them at the mall," he said. "I know if they had a bar mitzvah if they're Jewish; I know what the theme for their bar mitzvah was." With all of this preparation, by the time Gubler gets in front of the camera, the character comes so naturally, he doesn't even have to worry about "acting."

He loves being an outsider

Matthew Gray Gubler has always been eccentric. In fact, even as a child he felt like an outcast. But for Gubler, being an outsider has always been a blessing rather than a curse. "I have always been an outsider and my favorite people are outsiders," he told The Rogue Magazine. "Being ostracized a lot as a kid taught me early on that it doesn't matter what people think about you."

Instead of idolizing "popular" kids, he learned to see the value in people who didn't try too hard to impress anyone. "With the risk of sounding pretentious, all I strive for in everything I do is sincerity," he said.

In another interview with Details, "[The feeling of being an outsider is] the thing I can conjure up the easiest." Throughout his career, he explained, he's hoped to help other outsiders feel better about themselves. "I just want to make those that feel like outcasts feel like they belong somewhere," he said (via Glamour).

The actor studied at the Las Vegas Academy of the Arts

Before Matthew Gray Gubler became a professional actor or even a film school student, he spent time training at the Las Vegas Academy of the Arts, a performing arts high school. When Gubler was a student, the school was still brand new. "I was very blessed to go there during its formative years, when it was, in a sense, a bit of a risk," he told Vegas Magazine. Apparently, the school was filled with great young artists, thanks to the audition process that "weeded out all of the kids who were just phoning school in. It's this amazing, safe world," he said.

While studying at the high school, Gubler got to experience performing on stage. He played the Cat in "The Cat in the Hat," the Mad Hatter in "Alice in Wonderland" and Ernest in "The Importance of Being Earnest" (via Biography). By the sounds of things, he certainly had an amazing education in the performing arts!

Matthew Gray Gubler carries some pretty strange things around

At this point, you probably won't be surprised to hear that Matthew Gray Gubler doesn't exactly have the most normal things in his bag on a day-to-day basis. In an interview with BUILD Series, the actor revealed some of the oddities he likes to carry around.

First of all, Gubler has what almost looks like a child's backpack — we can't say we're surprised. "I have a hat, it's very important to stay warm," he began as he rifled through his bag. Then, he pulled out a set of colored pencils, a gourd (which he processed to throw into the audience), his book's artwork, walnuts, a journal, and Ray Bradbury's "Something Wicked This Way Comes." 

"Masterpiece of a book — if you love October and you love reading, then you'll love this book," he said. It's pretty interesting to take a peek inside Gubler's bag — and we're hardly surprised by the mishmash of creative and practical items he carries.