Earlier this year, Ben Savage played a Young Mandy Patinkin in the penultimate episode of Criminal Minds. Two months later, he played a Young Mandy Patinkin in the penultimate episode of Homeland.
His casting on the Showtime thriller, as you can imagine, was no coincidence.
For the purpose of flashbacks to East Berlin circa 1986, in which the oneday CIA bigwig began cultivating an asset, Homeland “went through so many discussions about how we would portray the Young Saul,” co-creator/executive producer Alex Gansa tells TVLine. For starters, “There was some talk of trying to make Mandy (who is 67 in real life) look like he was in his late 20s,” Gansa shares. “But we did some tests and it just wasn’t believable.”
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Producers briefly considered hiring one of Patinkin’s two non-actor sons, both of whom are in their 30s, while also bringing actors to read for the role. And while Gansa was unaware that 39-year-old Savage, best known for TV’s Boy Meets World, had twice played a younger version of Patinkin’s Jason Gideon on CBS’ Criminal Minds, luckily someone in his camp remembered that spot-on casting.
“I think it was Judy Henderson, our casting director, who was aware of that,” Gansa offers. “And when Ben came in to read, the resemblance is so strong it felt like the smart thing to do. He just bears such an uncanny resemblance to Mandy.”
Savage’s latest turn as a Young Patinkin wound up not being a speaking role per se, however. Instead, line readings in Patinkin’s own, very distinctive voice were dubbed in for the flashbacks, to further create the illusion of his younger self.
The series finale of Showtime’s Homeland airs this Sunday, April 26 at 9/8c.
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