While Matthew Lillard is best known for his turns in the movies Scream and Scooby-Doo, he also played a memorable character on the police procedural Criminal Minds. First rising to prominence in the mid-1990s in such films as Serial Mom and Hackers, Lillard quickly became one of the most versatile young stars in Hollywood. With his deceptively wide range and affable demeanor, he set himself apart from his youthful contemporaries through the sheer number of characters he could play. Even as he stopped starring in blockbuster movies, Lillard found a new niche for himself as a brilliant character actor, and shows like Criminal Minds were a perfect fit.


Running for 15 seasons during its initial stint on the air, Criminal Minds was a change of pace from the usual police procedural because it called on the real science of criminal profiling. Set within the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit, the series dramatized some of the most fascinating criminal cases in history and managed to deliver compelling characters as well. The best Criminal Minds episodes blurred the line between truth and fiction, and the long-running series called on a host of guest stars who stole the show in their one-off appearances.

Matthew Lillard Played Serial Killer David Roy Turner In Criminal Minds

Matthew Lillard looks on in Criminal Minds

Matthew Lillard’s lone Criminal Minds appearance came in season 8, episode 6, “The Apprenticeship,” when he played serial killer David Roy Turner. The character was unique among unsubs on Criminal Minds because he was both a copycat killer and a killer who worked with a partner, albeit one he was trying to train. In the episode, the BAU is on the hunt for a killer in Miami who is seemingly escalating, and working with a partner. Lillard’s character is a killer in his own right who, upon the death of his own mentor, takes a burgeoning young murderer under his wing.

RELATED: Criminal Minds’ 15 Most Memorable Unsubs Ranked

The creepiness of the Turner character comes from his persistence, and his seeming willingness to corrupt a youth into becoming a full-fledged terror. Like many details on the CBS series, it is what is implied about Turner that makes him the most harrowing, and Lillard’s deft performance sold all the subtle layers of the gripping criminal. Turner’s relationship with his apprentice, Toby Whitewood, is both symbiotic and abusive, and it illustrated the frequent theme of the cycle of violence which was at the heart of the show.

Lillard’s Criminal Minds Character Is Partially Based On Lonnie David Franklin

Matthew Lillard stands near a truck in Criminal Minds

As was true quite frequently, Matthew Lillard’s episode of Criminal Minds was based on a real case though his character’s connection with reality was somewhat tenuous. The fictional villain David Roy Turner was loosely based on real-life serial killer Lonnie David Franklin, who operated in Los Angeles from the 1980s until the mid-2000s. Also known as “The Grim Sleeper,” Franklin’s M.O. was similar to that of Turner’s, though enough details were obfuscated to make the connection between the two loose at best. Far from a word-for-word copy of the true-crime story, Franklin’s crimes served as a backdrop for an entirely different unsub.

Both the real-life killer and the fictional one targeted sex workers predominantly, and the second murder committed by Turner in the episode closely mirrored Franklin’s disposal methods. However, Franklin was never known to work with a partner, nor was he a verbose serial killing mentor as the show dreamed up for Turner. Other details were changed as well, such as the location of the crime sprees, and the underlying motivations that drove the men to kill. Nevertheless, the creators of Criminal Minds obviously did their homework and gave Matthew Lillard a dynamic character that was unforgettably creepy because there was a shred of truth to the story.

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