Mandy Patinkin has had a long and successful career on both stage and screen, but he says he’s been battling demons over the years that affected his work.
“I struggled with letting in other people’s opinions,” Patinkin said. “During ‘Chicago Hope,’ I never let directors talk to me, because I was so spoiled. I started off with people like Milos Forman, Sidney Lumet, James Lapine, unbelievably gifted people. So there I was saying, ‘Don’t talk to me. I don’t want your opinion.’ I behaved abominably. I don’t care if my work was good or if I got an award for it. I’m not proud of how I was then, and it pained me.”
The actor/singer only appeared briefly on “Chicago Hope” because he didn’t want to be away from his family, who were on the opposite coast; then, after he was cast on “Criminal Minds” in 2005, he suddenly disappeared because the content of the show was too much for him to handle. The show’s executive producer called him “the father who goes out for a carton of milk and then just never comes home.” And although Patinkin apologized to the cast and crew, he recognizes now that things could have gone very differently.
James Lapine, who directed Patinkin in “Sunday In The Park With George”–for which Patinkin earned a Tony nomination–says that the actor’s intensity may be what throws people off.
“Mandy was a handful on that show, but he’s not neurotic, oddly enough. He’s myopic. He would lose himself so much in the work, and he was playing an obsessive, which goes hand in hand. He doesn’t do things by halves — to prepare, he took a drawing class at the Art Students League of New York. He’s just unbelievably intense, maniacally focused. He was never mean, but that intensity may not always be to other actors’ tastes.”
Regardless of his past behavior, Patinkin has no shortage of friends and admirers who are thrilled to work with him, including Claire Danes, his co-star on “Homeland”.
“Mandy is obviously verging on legend,” Danes said. “He has that ineffable, magical something that’s impossible to identify, so it’s a great thrill to work with him.