Born in Chicago, Mandy Patinkin, 66, made his Tony award-winning Broadway debut in Evita in 1980. His films include Yentl, The Princess Bride and Wonder. On television he has played CIA agent Saul Berenson in Homeland for the last seven seasons, receiving four Emmy nominations. Children And Art, Patinkin’s first new album since 2002, has just been released. He is married with two sons and lives in New York City.
What is your greatest fear?
Dying, and sometimes living.
What is your earliest memory?
When I was four, we were at Midway airport in Chicago, and there was a large crowd of people surrounding a lady – everyone was screaming at her, lights were flashing. It was scary. I later learned she was Marilyn Monroe.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
Second-guessing myself: being a Monday morning quarterback for everything I say and do.
What makes you unhappy?
Feeling that I have disappointed my wife, my children, my friends, my co-workers, my audience.
If you could revive something extinct, what would it be?
All the lost languages, indigenous cultures, plants and animals that we have let die.
What is the worst thing anyone’s said to you?
“I hate tenors and I hate Jews, but you moved me.” Said by an audience member who waited to meet me after a concert. I was horrified that a human being needed to couch a compliment in hate.
Is it better to give or to receive?
Giving is receiving.
What single thing would improve the quality of your life?
Less work, more living.
To whom would you most like to say sorry, and why?
To my father, for not telling him the truth when he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and going along with the family lie that he had hepatitis, when he knew he didn’t. At the age of 17, I lacked the courage and strength to stand up for what I believed.
What does love feel like?
Love is a religious experience, which then requires me to define religion, which I define as everything I don’t understand.
Have you ever said ‘I love you’ and not meant it?
Yes, I sign most emails and correspondence “love Mandy”, because I want to mean it.
What has been your biggest disappointment?
Citizens around the world blaming others for their personal disappointments, othering them, labelling them, terrorising them with hate-filled rhetoric and shutting the doors of their hearts.
If you could edit your past, what would you change?
I would have been a better listener. I would have pursued more friendships instead of focusing so much on work and myself. I’m doing all that now, but I’m running out of time.
Dame Julie Andrews: ‘My biggest disappointment? Losing my singing voice’
What keeps you awake at night?
Not being at peace with myself, in spite of an ongoing lifetime effort to try to calm down and accept that, no matter what, I did the best I could.
What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
To take chances and know it truly doesn’t matter whether I succeed or fail.
Where would you most like to be right now?
On a walk with my father, asking him all the questions I never got to ask – and just listening.