It wasn’t his first movie, but chances are that the first time you saw Mandy Patinkin was in The Princess Bride. He was Inigo Montoya, the drunken swordsman whose only purpose in life was to catch and kill the six-fingered man. And his famous lines are probably already rolling around in your head even before you read them:
“Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”
There’s been a lot of water that’s flowed under the bridge since then—1987, the year I graduated from high school, as a matter of fact—and Patinkin went on to do a lot of roles, in movies, TV shows and stage productions ranging from Dick Tracy to Squanto to Hercules to Evita to Chicago Hope. He played Satan on Touched by an Angel. He played Quasimodo in a TV movie rendition of The Hunchback. Right now he’s starring in the Showtime series Homeland, which just walked away with a fistful of Emmy awards last Sunday.
So it’s been a full and quite successful entertainment career for Mr. Patinkin. But it’s not always been one he’s liked. Or even approved of.
In 2005, he began appearing on CBS’ Criminal Minds, a police procedural that is, well, very much like every other CBS police procedural—obsessed with all things criminally violent and macabre. He now says of his two years on the series (courtesy New York magazine):
The biggest public mistake I ever made was that I chose to do Criminal Minds in the first place. I thought it was something very different. I never thought they were going to kill and rape all these women every night, every day, week after week, year after year. It was very destructive to my soul and my personality. A fter that, I didn't think I would get to work in television again.
He feels that the violence on his current HBO Showtime show, while dark at times, is different from Criminal Minds’. And he adds in his New York interview,
I’m not making a judgment on the taste [of people who watch crime procedurals]. But I’m concerned about the effect it has. Audiences all over the world use this programming as their bedtime story. This isn’t what you need to be dreaming about. A show like Homeland is the antidote. It asks why there’s a need for violence in the first place.
My first thought is that Plugged In should tackle Homeland in a review so we can explore the differences Patinkin is talking about. I’d like to see how different it is. My second is that it’s really nice to hear from an actor who has obviously thought long and hard about what he gets involved with, and what the cost of certain types of entertainment is.