Friends With Better Lives star James Van Der Beek is staying in the CBS fold as the male lead opposite Patricia Arquette in CSI: Cyber. Inspired by the work of real-life cyberpsychologist Mary Aiken, the CSI spinoff centers on Special Agent Avery Ryan (Arquette), who heads the Cyber Crime Division of the FBI, a unit at the forefront of solving illegal activities that start in the mind, live online, and play out in the real world. Van Der Beek will play FBI Agent Elijah Mundo, an expert in battlefield forensics recruited by Ryan for his war efforts in Afghanistan. A self-proclaimed action junkie, Mundo often will put himself at risk to seek permanent justice, while Ryan will level his diehard behavior with her expertise in psychology. Together, they will fight the world’s toughest cyber crimes. The casting comes on a day when cybercrime is dominating the news headlines with the stories about a Russian crime ring that allegedly has access to more than 1 billion usernames and passwords and about a computer breach at a government contractor conducting background security checks on Department of Homeland Security personnel.
I hear it was CBS Entertainment Chairman Nina Tassler and head of casting Peter Golden who came up with the idea to pursue Van Der Beek for the role. He became the top choice for the role and sparked to the idea after meeting with Carol Mendelsohn and Anthony Zuiker, who co-created and executive produce CSI: Cyber with Anne Donahue. This marks a return to the drama side for Van Der Beek after back-to-back comedy series, Don’t Trust The B—- In Apt 23 and Friends With Better Lives. He was sought after for both comedy and drama projects after the end of FWBL, including for a role on the Netflix comedy Grace & Frankie. (The Netflix show just cast Van Der Beek’s FWBL co-star Brooklyn Decker.) Getting an actor like Van Der Beek who is well versed in both genres falls into CBS’ strategy to infuse comedy in their crime procedurals, illustrated by the hire of another actor with background in both comedy and drama, Ted Danson, as the lead of the mothership CSI series. The other two recently cast CSI: Cyber cast cast members, Peter MacNicol and Charley Koontz, also have comedy experience. Van Der Beek is repped by Paradigm and Brillstein Entertainment.