Family & Companions
A polarizing talent who inspired fervent fans as well as devoted detractors, Mandy Patinkin broke through with his Tony-winning turn as Che, the narrator of the 1979 Broadway smash "Evita." He earned a Golden Globe nomination opposite Barbra Streisand in "Yentl" (1983), a Tony nomination for starring in the 1984 musical "Sunday in the Park with George" and cinematic immortality with the line "Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die" in "The Princess Bride" (1987). After the latter film brought him mainstream fame, he appeared in major feature films including "Alien Nation" (1988) and "Dick Tracy" (1990) and earned an Emmy for his love-him-or-hate-him turn as the tormented, sharp-tongued Dr. Jeffrey Geiger on "Chicago Hope" (CBS, 1994-2000). Surprising many, he left the series after one season to focus on his recording and theatrical careers, returning to the series only near its end. Patinkin resurfaced on the hit crime drama "Criminal Minds" (CBS, 2005- ), but shocked viewers, critics and colleagues alike when he just stopped showing up to work after two seasons, adding to his career-long reputation as a difficult performer. Regardless of any baggage, he found a new home as Claire Danes' wise, protective CIA mentor on the critically acclaimed series "Homeland" (Showtime, 2011- ). Beloved as well as mocked for his intense, over-the-top performance style, Mandy Patinkin proved to be a passionate artist who followed his heart and instincts instead of playing the stardom game.
Born Nov. 30, 1952 in Chicago, IL, Mandel Bruce Patinkin came from a Russian and Polish Jewish family and was raised in conservative Judaism. Nicknamed "Mandy," he began singing as a child in synagogue and briefly attended the University of Kansas before transferring to Juilliard to study drama. Showing a temperamental side that would haunt him throughout his career, the high-strung, emotional Patinkin clashed with his teachers and dropped out to pursue the stage. Success came quickly, and he created the role of Mark, the gay lover of a cancer-stricken man in the Pulitzer Prize-winning "The Shadow Box." Singing remained his true passion, however, and he nabbed the role of the lifetime when he was cast in the new Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice Broadway musical, 1979's "Evita" as the narrator, a one-man Greek chorus named Che in honor of the famous revolutionary. The demanding role required Patinkin to expend considerable energy, and although some critics mocked the high tenor's fervently over-the-top performance, the actor's hard work paid off when he won a Tony Award for his efforts.
Patinkin segued to the screen with performances in a pair of high-profile films that made much of his own heritage. He played Tateh, a Jewish immigrant who finds success in America as a filmmaker in Milos Forman's sprawling but uneven adaptation of E.L. Doctorow's novel "Ragtime" (1981), and an accused spy with shades of Julius Rosenberg in another adaptation of the author's works, "Daniel" (1983). He notched a Golden Globe nomination and made his biggest impression that same year, however, opposite director-actress Barbra Streisand in "Yentl" (1983), playing Avigdor. Many fans were disappointed that Patinkin was not given the chance to sing in the film, but were pleased when he returned to Broadway the following year to star in the Stephen Sondheim/James Lapine musical "Sunday in the Park with George," loosely inspired by the life of pointillist painter Georges Seraut. He earned a Tony nomination and a CableACE Award for his role, but his professional reputation soon took a big hit. Signed to star opposite Meryl Streep in Nora Ephron's autobiographical dramedy "Heartburn" (1986), Patinkin was fired by director Mike Nichols and replaced by Jack Nicholson.
Dogged by a growing reputation for being mercurial and erratic both on set and off, Patinkin returned to the stage to star in the bizarre sex change musical, 1987's "The Knife," which received poor reviews across the board. He chalked up a major triumph that same year, however, when he played a flamboyant, revenge-seeking swashbuckler in Rob Reiner's instant classic "The Princess Bride" (1987). His oft-stated delivery of the immortal line, "Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die" stuck with audiences, who would go on to quote it back to him decades after the fact. He scored a cult success with the multilayered "Alien Nation" (1988), in which he played an extraterrestrial rookie cop paired with a bitter, alcoholic veteran (James Caan), as well as took the small, semi-musical role of 88 Keys, the pianist for the nightclub singer Breathless Mahoney (Madonna), in Warren Beatty's candy-colored hit "Dick Tracy" (1990). Off-screen, he recorded his self-titled debut album and began to tour, working up a set of songs that would comprise his second album, 1990's Dress Casual. He starred as the emotionally frozen uncle of a fierce-tempered orphan in the Broadway adaptation of "The Secret Garden" and continued to record and perform music, including a string of performances on "Late Show with David Letterman" (CBS, 1993- ).
Many were surprised when Patinkin next accepted a leading role on David E. Kelley's hospital drama "Chicago Hope" (CBS, 1994-2000), but his portrayal of the brilliant but caustic heart surgeon Dr. Jeffrey Geiger definitely made waves. Although some fans and critics complained that Patinkin was too hammy and, in a nod to the actor's vanity, sang too frequently, others adored his intensity. For his efforts, Patinkin won an Emmy, a Golden Globe nomination and the lion's share of attention. Despite his success, he left the show after one season to return to the gypsy life of guest spots, including a memorable role as Lisa Simpson's would-be husband on "The Simpsons" (Fox, 1989- ). He also focused on singing and touring, including his pet project, 1998's Yiddish album Mamaloshen. He earned an Emmy nomination for his guest spot on "The Larry Sanders Show" (HBO, 1992-98) and made high-profile appearances as the titular tragic hero of "The Hunchback" (TNT, 1997) and a kid-friendly comic villain in "The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland" (1999). "Chicago Hope" fans had reason to rejoice when Patinkin began an Emmy-nominated recurring run near the show's end, helping inject some much-needed adrenaline to the sagging series.
The actor returned to Broadway as the lead in a new 2000 production of "The Wild Party," but his performance divided critics and reportedly alienated his fellow cast members, who allegedly found him unprofessional and difficult. Still, Patinkin took home another Tony nomination and went on to spearhead a series of concerts celebrating the music of famed theater composer Stephen Sondheim. He returned to series television as Rube Sofer, a supernatural mentor to a newly dead grim reaper on the black comedy "Dead Like Me" (Showtime, 2003-05), but found a sturdier, more popular vehicle with "Criminal Minds" (CBS, 2005- ), where he essayed the part of Jason Gideon, an experienced but troubled FBI profiler. Although the gritty crime series was an immediate hit, Patinkin's difficult professional nature reared its head again and he shocked the industry - and infuriated many of his co-stars and colleagues - when he abruptly stopped showing up for work after two seasons. In several interviews given before he dropped out, Patinkin spoke of his dislike of televised violence and his difficulty reconciling his participation in the series. Although his intentions might have been noble, Patinkin ended up leaving the series in the messiest possible manner and several of his castmates would later give interviews that cast the actor in a less than flattering light.
Off-screen, Patinkin overcame many health issues, including a degenerative eye disease called keratoconus that led to him receiving two corneal transplants, and a successful battle with prostate cancer. As always, singing remained his greatest and most unwavering of passions, and he returned to musical performance, landing a starring role in the London-based musical "Paradise Found" in 2010. The following year, he made a triumphant return to television with his subtle characterization of Saul Berenson, the CIA's Middle-East Division Chief and mentor to Claire Danes' passionate, emotionally disturbed agent Carrie Mathison on "Homeland" (Showtime, 2011- ). The critically acclaimed hit, based on the Israeli series "Hatufim" ("Kidnapped"), was the perfect showcase for Patinkin's larger-than-life gravitas, and he and Danes enjoyed an almost father-daughter-like onscreen chemistry that proved to be one of the show's many assets. Between seasons of the series, Patinkin provided a voice for the English-language version of Hayao Miyazaki's animated hit "The Wind Rises" (2014) and played a supporting role in Zach Braff's comedy-drama "Wish I Was Here" (2014).
By Jonathan Riggs
Cast (Feature Film)
Music (Feature Film)
Began singing at age nine in the choir at his temple on the South Side of Chicago (date approximate)
Made Broadway debut in "Trelawny of the Wells" alongside Meryl Streep, Mary Beth Hurt, John Lithgow, and Michael Tucker
Originated the role of Mark, the lover of a man dying of cancer, in "The Shadow Box" at Long Wharf Theater; reprised role in 1977 Broadway production
During run of "The Shadow Box," co-star Geraldine Fitzgerald gifted him with singing lessons
Appeared opposite Dianne Wiest in the New York Shakespeare Festival production of "Leave It to Beaver Is Dead" production
Made guest appearance on the classic sitcom "Taxi" (ABC, NBC)
TV-movie debut, "Charleston" (NBC)
Delivered breakthrough stage role of Ché the narrator opposite Patti LuPone's Eva Peron in "Evita"; won 1980 Tony Award as Featured Actor in a Musical
Returned to the stage to play Hotspur in NYSF Central Park production of "Henry V"
Cast as Tateh the future filmmaker in "Ragtime"
Offered a fine turn as the romantic lead opposite Barbra Streisand in "Yentl"
First collaboration with Stephen Sondheim, "Sunday in the Park With George"; directed by James Lapine; earned Tony nomination as Lead Actor in a Musical; filmed for TV and aired on PBS in 1986
Played role of Buddy in "Follies in Concert," a staging of the Stephen Sondheim-James Goldman musical; recorded and filmed for airing on PBS
Co-starred with Glenn Close in the feature "Maxie"
Fired from "Heartburn" and replaced by Jack Nicholson (July)
Turned down the lead in the original London production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's "The Phantom of the Opera" (1986) because he did not want to move his family
Undertook controversial role of a transsexual in the Nick Bicat-David Hare musical "The Knife", produced at the New York Shakespeare Festival
Delivered memorable film role of Inigo Montoya in Rob Reiner's "The Princess Bride"
Co-starred as a being from another planet in "Alien Nation"
Signed on to play Ché in film version of "Evita" with director Oliver Stone and star Meryl Streep; Streep withdrew from project in late 1989 and project was delayed
Appeared as Leontes in a NYSF staging of "The Winter's Tale," directed by James Lapine
Began performing a weekly concert series off-Broadway at the Public Theater
Broadway concert debut, "Mandy Patinkin in Concert - Dress Casual"
Feature singing debut, "Dick Tracy"; songs written by Stephen Sondheim; played small role of piano player for bombshell Breathless Mahoney (Madonna)
Returned to Broadway playing Archibald Craven in the musical version of "The Secret Garden"
Portrayed Alfred de Musset in Lapine's feature directorial debut "Impromptu"
Co-starred in Philip Haas' "The Music of Chance"
Made cameo appearance in Lapine's film comedy "Life with Mikey"
Replaced Michael Rupert in the Broadway musical "Falsettos," directed by Lapine
TV series debut, joined the ensemble for the ambitious CBS medical drama "Chicago Hope"
Asked to be released from "Chicago Hope" citing a desire to spend more time with family; agreed to make occasional guest appearances
Made guest appearance as himself on the HBO comedy "The Larry Sanders Show"
Starred in the PBS production of Arthur Miller's "Broken Glass"
Played title role in the TNT production of "The Hunchback"
Landed supporting role in "Lulu on the Bridge"; screened at Cannes; released direct-to-video in 1999
Returned to Broadway in "Mandy Patinkin in Concert: Mamaloshen," drawing material from his album of Yiddish songs
Cast as an obnoxious American tourist in John Sayles' Spanish-language "Men With Guns"
Co-starred as the media savvy political advisor Kenneth Duberstein in the acclaimed Showtime drama "Strange Justice"
Resumed role of Dr. Jeffrey Geiger on "Chicago Hope" on a recurring basis
Played the comic villain in the children's film "The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland"; also sang and danced
Co-starred on Broadway alongside Toni Collette and Eartha Kitt in "The Wild Party"; earned Tony nomination as Lead Actor in a Musical
Provided a character voice for the English-language version of Hiyao Miyazaki's anime "Laputa: Castle in the Sky"
Cast as producer Joseph Papp in the film biography "Piñero "
Cast as Rube Sofer in the Showtime comedy-drama "Dead Like Me"
Played Special Agent Jason Gideon on the CBS crime drama "Criminal Minds"; left series due to creative differences
Played Prospero in off-Broadway production of "The Tempest"
Reunited with his "Evita" co-star in "An Evening with Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin" on Broadway
Returned to series television as CIA Division Chief Saul Berenson opposite Claire Danes on "Homeland" (Showtime)
Appeared in the comedy drama "Wish I Was Here"
Voiced Papa Smurf in animated feature "Smurfs: The Lost Village"
Cast as Mr. Tushman in the drama "Wonder"
Cast in writer/director Dan Fogelman's romantic drama "Life Itself"