60 Minutes: Mandy Patinkin ‘Homeland’ Review, Train Set + Impatience

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60 Minutes: Mandy Patinkin

Bob Simon shared a profile of Mandy Patinkin for 60 Minutes. The performer has had a four-decade career, and at age 61, he is gaining new fans as Saul in the Showtime drama series Homeland. It seems that he has been his own worst enemy during his career, which has me intrigued for this conversation.

60 Minutes traveled to Cape Town, South Africa, where Homeland is filmed, thanks a combination of “light…ethnic diversity of the extras, and…tax breaks.” The series tracks a fictionalized CIA clashing against Islamic terrorists. In the series, Patinkin portrays Saul Berenson, a former top official who provides the show’s moral center in a chaotic world where it can be hard to know who is telling the truth.

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60 Minutes: Mandy Patinkin Homeland Review

“On occasion, a well-constructed drama can do what no reality or news program can do,” Patinkin said. “It can show both sides’ opinions.” To prepare for the role, Patinkin did meet with people in the CIA, though he was not at liberty to be much more specific.

60 Minutes wondered about the real life CIA operatives’ reactions to the series, and the actor said reactions have run the gamut. He explained that one man shared his worldview to help demonstrate his motivations for the sometimes morally challenging actions that are taken.

Patinkin said the latest season of the series poses a question “I rarely see in American television…. Is America possibly the bad guy?”

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60 Minutes: Mandy Patinkin Stage Performances

60 Minutes: Mandy Patinkin 'Homeland' Review, Train Set + Impatience

Mandy Patinkin, whose career as an actor and musician ranges from Broadway to the Showtime series ‘Homeland,’ talked with 60 Minutes about his life lessons. (s_bukley / Shutterstock.com)

Before the spy world, Patinkin made his career onstage in performances like Sunday in the Park with George and Evita, for which he received a Tony Award. He even learned to fence for his memorable movie role in The Princess Bride.

Other audiences know him as a musical performer, who travels the U.S. singing everything from show tunes to rock. I was supposed to see him in concert once, but I missed the show because my flight was delayed. Patinkin does not read music, apparently, and is lyrically motivated, which draws him to some classic playwrights and songwriters who tell stories.

60 Minutes: Mandy Patinkin Names Ritual

Bob Simon also harassed Patinkin about the speed with which he speaks (and walks). The actor admitted that his fast-talking ways have been a concern in the past. But these days, “there’s various things that have popped up that I really want to say before I check out, if I can leave something behind,” he said.

In a later conversation, Simon met the actor at his upstate New York home, where he had taken a bike ride and cleaned the house, but was still brimming with energy. He said that before he gives a big interview or performance, he has to go through another ritual. He recites the names of the people he has known who have passed away.

“There was a line in the libretto of Carousel, and the line is, ‘As long as there’s one person on Earth who remembers you, it isn’t over,'” he said. He also discussed the idea that life is a game, and that dying is kind of like losing, because you don’t get to hang around anymore.

60 Minutes: Mandy Patinkin Heartburn Controversy

Why didn’t Mandy Patinkin ever make it as a leading man? He admitted that he made two big mistakes that worked against him through the years. The first was agreeing to do the film Heartburn with director Mike Nichols and Meryl Streep.

Patinkin said he knew he was not a fit for the part, but he wanted to be a movie star. However, his clash with the character showed, and he was replaced after just one day with Jack Nicholson. Later, he transitioned into television, where he won an Emmy as a doctor on Chicago Hope.

60 Minutes: Mandy Patinkin Quit Criminal Minds

Later, he starred in the CBS drama Criminal Minds, and he caused quite a stir when he abruptly quit the hit series, citing his objections to the content of the series.

“I chose it because I was greedy. I wanted more money,” he admitted, which is a pretty big thing to own up to, in my opinion. For years afterward, he figured he may never work in television again, especially since he had gained a reputation as someone who is hard to work with.

60 Minutes: Mandy Patinkin Impatient

Mandy Patinkin publicly apologized for not taking direction over the years from the directors he worked with. The actor said that some of his anger goes back to the passing of his father, when Mandy was only 18. His dad passed from Pancreatic Cancer, and he never had the chance to pursue the dreams he set for himself.

“I became impatient for anything I dreamed of. I wanted it done by sundown,” Patinkin said. I guess that age 18 is not a bad time to develop that type of determination, despite the sad circumstances.

60 Minutes: Mandy Patinkin Train Set

Mandy Patinkin has an electric train set, which he has used to document his life over the decades. He grew up playing with trains, and now they help to tell the story of his personal history. His train town pays homage to his late parents, and it seems to be quite the refuge for the actor.

His wife of 34 years, actress Kathryn Grody, had two sons with Mandy. She said people probably don’t realize how funny he is. She also said that he does not realize his own intensity, which can sometimes rub others the wrong way. Looking back, Mandy admitted that it took him time to learn to manage his own moods. However, his family knows how to deal with his high energy.

60 Minutes: Mandy Patinkin on Saul

That’s very much in contrast to his circumspect starring role in Homeland, which he apparently called “an aspiration.” Patinkin said that is how you can tell he is acting, because his real life energy level is much higher than that of his character, Saul.

What does he want to learn from his onscreen alter ego. “His quiet, his ability to truly, legitimately listen. His lack of a need to speak first, to get his ideas out,” Patinkin said.

Coming up, Mandy Patinkin will tackle an experimental musical with collaborators Paul Ford and Taylor Mac. In rehearsal footage, he was singing “Bohemian Rhapsody.” He loves to connect with others through music. After that, who knows what he might do? “You really do learn something if you get the luck of being able to hang around,” Patinkin said.

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