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Best Performances: Mandy Patinkin on Why Saul Is so Good at Silence

The Homeland star talks about the evolution of his craft.

Krutika Mallikarjuna

Best Performances is TV Guide's Emmys video series highlighting the best acting performances of the year. Actors take viewers behind the scenes of their Emmy-nominated performances and explain the secrets of their craft.

Mandy Patinkin is a legend of stage and screen, remembered for a body of work that spans cult classics like The Princess Bride all the way to his current role as enigmatic Saul Berenson on Homeland. He has one Emmy in addition to six other nominations (including 2018's nom for Supporting Actor in a Drama Series), three of which are for Homeland. But Patinkin is no old hat phoning it in, in fact he told TV Guide that Season 7 is in fact his most rewarding season of the political drama yet.

"I'm asked, as Shakespeare says, to mirror nature," said Patinkin. "It's our job, I feel, to create a poetic possibility to offer the viewer, so that hopefully there's possibly a moral, or an option...that maybe you haven't thought of. And this year that gift was given to me unlike any other season of Homeland."

Undaunted by portraying the devastating real cost of fake news, Patinkin and his costar Claire Danes went full throttle and fans of the show reaped the rewards. But that's not to say the show or the performances turned into the dramatic night-time soapiness of Quantico; Patinkin stressed that on a show like Homeland, the best work is done in the silences.

Nowhere in the season is that more true than in a pivotal scene in "Species Jump" in which Saul guides Carrie to a truth she refuses to see. It's the weight of Saul's gaze, rather than his series of questions, that forces her to admit that Dante, an ally at the FBI, is really the mastermind plotting the downfall of the people she's trying to help. "The space in-between the lines where the audience could think and place themselves and imagine things they haven't even considered, at its best that's what, I hope, Homeland offers the viewer."

(Full disclosure: TV Guide is owned by CBS, Showtime's parent company)