National Treasure Mandy Patinkin recently spoke to Cindy Adams at Page Six about his new movie Ali and Nino. Here's what he had to say:
“People ask who am I, what do I do, because I’m also a singer. But I’m an actor first. Words, acting, reverberates through my life. I’m really a lyric driver like Oscar Hammerstein, Paul Simon. Singing for me means talking words on a musical note. I’m a storyteller. It’s why I love Yiddish theater.
Stories in those shtetls tell of birth, death, celebration, everything. And I like to work live. In plays. Thank God I’m 64 this month and always have a platform to speak. I’m dedicated to be the voice for those who cannot speak. I will always strive to see they’re never forgotten. I’m just back from 10 days in Cambodia with Ruth Messinger [Democrat who ran for NYC mayor in ’97]. We saw people who’d suffered under the Khmer Rouge. Look, we all have different experiences. Some, none of us share. But I listen to them. I hear their pain. Their journeys. Women who’ve struggled in Cambodia’s factories making shirts we Americans wear. Despite thirst, they can’t drink water during working hours because the bathroom means moments away from their work. Women fighting for working rights. Rights to survive. You walk away proud to have met them. I am involved in the refugee problem. I align.
They’re close to my own ancestors, my grandparents who survived Russia’s pogroms. Both sides need to be heard. In this country, we’re a family called America. We must pay attention to what our people are saying. Our nation must be inclusive. Arthur Miller, in his play ‘Death of a Salesman,’ wrote, ‘Attention must be paid.’ Tonight, after this, are several events dedicated to helping unfortunates. I will go to those.
That’s why this movie ‘Ali and Nino’ is important. A Romeo-and-Juliet story, Muslim-Christian style, it was a book published in the ’30s, long before our own current political struggle. I play the nobleman father of the girl. We need more stories like this. People are afraid of one another. They need to learn to live with one another despite our turmoil. We must sit next to one another, listen to one another, learn to be uncomfortable or we won’t anymore have a world to live in. So to talk about this more, call me. Don’t e-mail. Call. I don’t like to write ideas. I’m more of a verbal person.”