Tag Archives: Damian Lewis

Mandy Patinkin: Why ‘Homeland’ Violence Doesn’t Bother Him

Mandy Patinkin, Claire Danes Showtime photo

Mandy Patinkin, who left “Criminal Minds” in 2007 saying he loathed violence on television, returns to the small screen Sunday (10/2) in Showtime’s new “Homeland” — a series already notorious among critics for its scenes of Damian Lewis’ Marine character being tortured.  How does Patinkin explain this seeming contradiction?

“It’s very artfully done, and it is not the central issue by any means of this piece,” he responds.  “I find the sex and violence in this piece incredibly minimal, artfully done and non-offenseive to me.  This is an entertainent first and foremost, and very much a psychological thriller.  It goes to the core of why we are all in the positions we are in and who is responsible for the terrorism and the violence that has taken place in the world.  It is very much a whodunnit, very much a mystery, a spy story.”

The beloved performer plays CIA Middle East Division Chief Saul Berenson, the boss of Claire Danes’ character.  She becomes convinced that Lewis, returned to the U.S. after years of having gone missing in Afghanistan, may have been turned and now be part of an al-Qaida plot.  Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa of “24” fame are producing the intense new drama.

“You are really in the hands of masters here, and they’re really sensitive to this stuff,” Patinkin adds. 

The actor certainly came to his role prepared.  He did a great deal of research, “which I always love doing.  They sent me a bunch of books, definitive books about this world and these people, who are called ‘spooks.’  Then they hooked me up with the real guy who held a similar position to what I play — someone who has been all over the Middle East and knows where all the secrets are buried.  We went down to Langley,” he says, referring to the CIA headquarters.  “I met his family.” 

Danes’ character is almost like a daughter to Patinkin’s, according to him.  “I’m the father figure and mentor to her.  She is my child in terms of my character bringing her into this.  She’s an extraordinarily gifted human being, but troubled.”  Of the actress herself, Patinkin says, “She is amazing, as a person and as an actress.  She really is one of the best in terms of acting ability, which is a real gift to me at this point.”

Mandy Patinkin Happy Despite Wild Work Pace Rushing Between Concerts and ‘Homeland’

Damian Lewis, Claire Danes, Mandy Patinkin Showtime photo

Mandy Patinkin sounds delighted with the world and full of energy — despite the fact he’s been keeping up a pace that would frighten many.  Last week, for instance, “I finished a concert in Chicago with Nathan Gunn and my son Gideon — singing with him is my favorite thing in the world.  I did that on Wednesday in Chicago.  Then I flew back to North Carolina to shoot ‘Homeland,'” he says, referring to Oct. 2-debuting Showtime drama in which he plays Claire Danes’ CIA boss and mentor.  “We finished the seventh episode Thursday night, started the eighth one Friday.” 

From there, he had a weekend commitment in Toronto “to do my Yiddish concert, which has about 30 minutes of pop at the end of it.”  Then back to North Carolina series production.  “We keep shooting ‘Homeland’ ’til November 10th, then I have about three days off before starting the Patti-Mandy concerts,” he says.  He’ll be reuniting with his fellow vocal great and Evita  star Patti LuPone for their highly-anticipated Nov. 15-Jan. 15 stand at Broadway’s Ethel Barrymore Theatre.  After that, he and Patti will be taking their show on the road. 

Chatting on the phone, he makes it clear he’s excited about the “Homeland” scripts that deal with an American soldier who is rescued after having been missing for nine years (Damian Lewis) — whom Danes’ character begins to suspect is under Al Queda influence.  “You can’t wait to get hold of the next one to find out what is going to happen,”  he says.   He’s glad to return to Showtime, where he has a happy history including “Dead Like Me.”  And Patinkin says the 12-episode cable season was an attraction for him as well. 

 “It’s far more friendly in terms of being able to do other things.  I can continue my concert life, which is very important to me.  I can keep my two worlds floating there without exhausting myself,” says the Tony and Emmy winner.  “You book a year ahead of time in the concert world, which is why I’ve had so many to do while we’re in production — and they’ve been great about working around them all,” he says of his “Homeland” producers.  Next year, however, he says he’ll schedule concerts around the series’ shooting schedule. 

Patinkin tells us, “I’m in my car right now, and I’m on my way to the woods to take a hike.  I hike and hour and a half a day.  I have 10-12 hours of concert material to keep in the forefront of my mind, so I review it while I’m hiking.  I vocalize out loud, sing the whole thing to the trees.  It’s my favorite thing.  If I can make it through the vocalizing while I’m hiking, I know I can do it onstage.” 

Of course, he’s had to contend with the weather in Charlotte.  Hurricane Irene snuffed plans he had to go to a family wedding, and there’ve been times he had to do his vocal work in a nearby gym.  “But clearly I prefer being outside .  It’s been more than 100 degrees out through most of July and August.  At first it was really difficult, but then I really got into it.  It’s so hot, you just have to give in.  I’d go on these hikes and be drenched when I came back, like I just got out of a lake.  Then I’d stretch, and shower and — I’ve never felt better.  I just love it here.”