56 Hours: How Channeling Actor Joe Mantegna’s Agent Rossi on “Criminal Minds” Helped Save a Real Kidnap Victim
What would. Agent Rossi. Do.
In a recent episode of the long-standing drama series Criminal Minds, fictional FBI Special Agent David Rossi is abducted.
A big fan of Mantegna’s heroic character, and an associate of mine, was recently abducted by an actual criminal enterprise, right off the street, in front of his home.
For real. I know, right?!
My associate, let’s call him “Mr. X,” was blindfolded and bound up like an animal, then spirited away to an unknown location away from the city and his family. He was given only limited amounts of water. And was threatened with violence, death and worse if he didn’t give up the passcodes to his online banking apps — their goal was easy money from access to his bank apps.
The story is still under police and legal investigation, so we have to tread lightly. But a barefoot Mr. X finally found a way to outwit his abductors and fortunately make his way home to safety. But over the course of three harrowing days, he relied on his instinct, intelligence and understanding of human nature, along with one other constant — what would fictional FBI Agent David Rossi do?
Mr. X suggests, “Joe Mantegna is great as Agent Rossi, I admire his style and professionalism, even as a fictional character. I was kept in solitude, with time to think and weigh up my awful predicament — they could’ve killed me at any moment. So, I channeled Rossi from the very first day. When they were trying to wear me down. I would consider what Rossi would do, and what I might do to lead someone like Rossi to find me. Even though I didn’t know exactly where I was, I realized I needed to leave bread crumbs for the authorities.”
Smart. Real smart.
Mr. X says he mostly “remained cold” and hyper-vigilant throughout the whole ordeal, playing out scenarios in his head to work out his best chances of survival. He also dropped several clues including, leaving his finger prints in odd but strategic places and, other signs of his presence in the locations that he was kept.
But also like Rossi, he figured it would help if he could think like his abductors, explaining: “I also tried to channel Agent Rossi’s analysis of their mindset. He often asks, What did they really want? Who was on the other side of the calls — that is, who was the kingpin, the head of the beast? Also, what would I say to create doubt amongst them? Could I turn them against each other, which Rossi often does? He gets into the minds of his adversaries. But always remains calm. So, I focused on trying hard not to show fear, even if I did panic momentarily, or it would’ve been curtains for me. In fact, I even turned the tables on them, staying calm when they pointed a gun in my face — I responded with defiance and a little laugh, which kind of freaked them out and drove them batshit crazy.”
On top of that, and taking another page from Rossi’s book of getting under his adversary’s skin, Mr. X admits, “My final play was to convince the last guy that his mates had double-crossed him. So, I turned him, and got him to agree to let me go — which meant hightailing it out of the trunk of his vehicle, running barefoot and finding a Good Samaritan who helped me.”
When Mr. X was questioned by the authorities, they wanted to check him out medically but what he wanted to do first and foremost was to recall every detail that could help. Incidentally, still keeping ice-cool, when paramedics took his vitals, his blood pressure stayed low at 120/80, with a heart resting rate of 72.
Indeed, Mr. X adds, “The authorities were impressed with my endeavors and mental strength. They believed it played a major role in attaining my eventual freedom. I told them I had only one goal, to see my family again. When you’re alone for those hours, I tried to picture everyone I loved including my family, my parents, my brothers, and friends. So, I had to get out alive to see them again. I had to behave in a way that could offer the best chance of getting out. There were so many guns against me but I found a way to overcome all of that.”
And this writer’s associate did just that, thanks to his indomitable spirit and a lot of leaning on actor Joe Mantegna’s fictional hero, Agent David Rossi.