‘FBI’ Star Shantel VanSanten Was Surprised by the Huge Scale of ‘Most Wanted’: ‘We Have a Jet?’

“They’re like, ‘Oh, yeah, we fly’,” says the actress, whose character Nina is now a regular on the Dylan McDermott-led spinoff

Shantel VanSanten joins "FBI: Most Wanted" as a regular for Season 5.
Shantel VanSanten joins "FBI: Most Wanted" as a regular for Season 5. (CREDIT: Mark Schafer/CBS)

Shantel VanSanten makes her debut as an “FBI: Most Wanted” regular in Tuesday night’s Season 5 premiere, but the Fugitive Task Force — and viewers — already know her character Nina Chase from those “FBI” crossovers.

It’s a big promotion for both the character and the actress, who was surprised to learn that the Dylan McDermott-led spinoff has its own jet.

“There was a line in the script where Remy [McDermott] says, ‘Hop on the jet.’ I was like, ‘We have a jet?” They’re like, ‘Oh, yeah, we fly,’” VanSanten told TheWrap ahead of the episode, which is titled “Above and Beyond.”

VanSanten first joined the “FBI” team in 2022 when Missy Peregrym went on maternity leave. The actress told TheWrap that we’ll see more of Nina’s baby — mom and baby both survived a shooting last season — and romantic partner Stuart Scola (“FBI” regular John Boyd) in upcoming episodes. But for the premiere, the focus is just on Nina, who demonstrates some impressive driving skills we haven’t seen before as she and Barnes (Roxy Sternberg) chase a shooting suspect.

Edwin Hodge, Dylan McDermott, Shantel VanSanten and
(L-R): Edwin Hodge, Dylan McDermott as Supervisory Special Agent Remy Scott, Shantel VanSanten and Roxy Sternberg in the “Above and Beyond” episode of “FBI: Most Wanted.” (CREDIT: Mark Schafer/CBS)

TheWrap: What was it like joining this show? Was it a little daunting?

Shantel VanSanten: Of course, I still feel like a seventh grader who starts at a new school and you wonder where you’re gonna have lunch. I was talking to Dylan during my first episode and he was sharing with me his experience of joining a cast that had already been together. [McDermott’s Remy Scott took over the task force in April 2022 after Julian McMahon’s character was killed off.]

I said, “I know I’m pretty quiet, but this is a lot.” There was no way to watch every single episode and know what happened on and off screen, so we just hit the ground running and Nina was a part of the team.

And luckily, I knew Edwin [Hodge] from another show that we were on together. And there were some really beautiful anchors, obviously, I knew the character. I knew the world because of the crossovers. I knew some of the writers and directors so that all helps. And it was really wonderful the way that they just welcomed me and it was just like, “Oh, we’re just a team. This isn’t even difficult.”

With the “Most Wanted” crew, you’re on the road way more, you’re traveling way more than the team in New York, both in real life and on the show

There was a learning curve for me joining the Fugitive Task Force, the places we fly and the things we do and the locations we get to shoot at. It’s so much fun and so interesting, because they’re not close to the city. You know, I had a year and a half of being on FBI and shooting all around Manhattan and Brooklyn, and we get to like, go to the outskirts and, you know, we’re in woods and cliffs.

The pace is faster too.

Everybody told me, “We’re a different show.” And I don’t think I really grasped it until I read a few scripts and I saw the locations and just how big the episodes are, how big the crimes are, how involved they are, how they really dive into the lives and the characters that they build around the crimes is so interesting.

And the way we work is as a unit. As you know, on “FBI,” it was more about partnerships. And this is really a unit of people who each have different capabilities that we lean on. And I’m learning about some of Nina’s new capabilities about automobiles and driving that I didn’t know I had!

“FBI: Most Wanted” airs Tuesdays on CBS at 10 pm ET/PR and streams the next day on Paramount+

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