Why Mandy Patinkin Hated His Role in Criminal Minds

Mandy Patinkin is talent personified. Aside from being a legendary actor, he has also been privileged to have a successful career spanning more than four decades in theatre, television and as a recording artist. In 1980, Patinkin took home a Tony Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical after making his Broadway debut in Evita. In addition, he’s also starred in some of the biggest movies and TV shows in the business, like The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Homeland, and The Princess Bride, to name a few, according to IMDb.

“No matter how many times I’ve done it… I’ve been doing it since I was 14, maybe even 7 years old… and yet fear is my middle name,” Patinkin said during an interview with Backstage in 2013. “It’s holding up it spontaneous and fresh.” Though Patinkin admitted he still gets nervous from time to time, he’s proven to be one of Hollywood’s finest leading actors — and his work speaks for itself. In 1995 he won an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for his performance in Chicago Hope. Five years later, in 2000, it was nominated for a Grammy for Best World Spoken Album.

And at one point he also became everyone’s favorite special agent (although he wasn’t a fan of the role himself).

Mandy Patinkin didn’t like his Criminal Minds story

Mandy Patinkin joined the cast of Criminal Minds in 2005, and his character, FBI Special Agent Jason Gideon, was both an integral part of the series and a fan favorite. However, his time there was short-lived. After completing just two seasons and making a few appearances in Season 3, Patinkin left Criminal Minds — and the reason for his sudden departure was “creative differences,” according to Entertainment Weekly at the time.

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However, that wasn’t necessarily the truth. In fact, during a 2012 interview with New York Magazine, Patinkin revealed that he actually regrets ever signing on to the show. “The biggest public mistake I ever made was going into Criminal Minds in the first place,” he confessed. The ‘Dead Like Me’ star admitted that she wasn’t a fan of the dark and terrifying crime stories the series focused on. “I never imagined that they would kill and rape all of these women every night, every day, week after week, year after year,” Patinkin told the outlet. “It was very destructive to my soul and personality.”

The actor added that he was concerned about how “Criminal Minds” would affect viewers subconsciously. “Viewers around the world use this program as a bedtime story,” he noted. “This is not what you must dream of.” However, given Patinkin’s shocking departure, producers had to make sure his character had a fair send-off as well.

Mandy Patinkin and his Criminal Minds character had a similar outcome

Mandy Patinkin’s reason for leaving Criminal Minds and the way his character FBI Special Agent Jason Gideon was written off shared some similarities. The actor claims the show’s content was traumatizing to deal with on a daily basis, and as for Gideon, the death of his girlfriend Sarah was also extremely damaging to his mental state, causing him too much emotional turmoil to continue working at the agency distract.

Fans had high hopes that Patinkin would eventually return to his role. However, they were finally able to close that chapter after Gideon was killed off-screen in season 10 of Criminal Minds after not appearing on the show for several years. “It felt like a really nice way to honor Gideon,” executive producer Erica Messer said during an interview with TV Guide. “We don’t kill our heroes very often.”

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While Patinkin’s time on Criminal Minds was brief, his role not only meant something to viewers, but he also had a lasting impact on the show. “All of these things were a beautiful tribute to a character that we really only knew for two years,” Messer added, “but he has a deep, long legacy in the show’s mythology.”