Mandy Patinkin, who has been notably absent from movies and television since leaving CBS’s Criminal Minds in 2007, will headline Showtime’s Homeland opposite Claire Danes. The show revolves around a terrorist plot on American soil, and will begin shooting in January.

Mandy Patinkin is most famous for his role of Inigo Montoya in the 1987 sleeper hit The Princess Bride. In addition to his leading role of Jason Gideon in Criminal Minds, Patinkin played grim reaper and father-figure Rube in Showtime’s black comedy Dead Like Me.

Homeland centers around an American POW who returns after years of incarceration in Iraq. Patinkin will play a CIA chief who sends an agent (Danes) to investigate the soldier, who is under suspicion of terrorist collusion.

Speculation suggests that Homeland is the cable channel’s try for a 24-like crime thriller, which would certainly make sense, seeing as Howard Gordon is taking the helm. Gordon is executive producing the new series, along with writing the pilot with fellow 24 veteran Alex Gansa. Ben Affleck was rumored to direct the pilot a few months back, but Screen Rant hasn’t heard anything since.

The choice seems like an odd one for Patinkin, who expressed his disappointment with violent television after leaving Criminal Minds. One can certainly see how someone could get burnt out after the roles he’s taken – in addition to the murder-of-the week crime drama, Dead Like Me featured the grisly death of one or more people each episode, played for laughs. Patinkin declined to reprise his role for the 2009 direct-to-video movie Dead Like Me: Life After Death.

If Patinkin hopes to avoid TV violence, Homeland doesn’t seem like the place to do it. 24 was regularly one of the most violent shows on network TV, and the new show is likely to use the freedom of cable to the fullest extent. Showtime is the home of vigilante serial killer Dexter, after all.

The most likely answer is the most obvious one: Recently Patinkin has had only a short role in one episode of CBS’s short-lived ER successor Three Rivers and a small part in the UK movie 4.3.2.1. Odds are he needs a source of income and has set his personal feelings aside for a steady paycheck. Patinkin expressed an interest in expanding his stage and musical career in 2007, but apparently it wasn’t lucrative enough.

SIDEBAR: Maybe Patinkin should consider the role of Sith Lord: check out the way he handles a Lightsaber in this awesome Princess Bride/Star Wars mashup.

Homeland begins production in January and will likely air in the fall of 2011 on Showtime.

Source: Deadline Hollywood