The Actor Barbra Streisand Says Was Convinced She Wanted To Have An Affair

During Barbra Streisand's directorial debut with the 1983 musical "Yentl," a surprising romantic subplot unfolded off-screen — or at least that's what Streisand claims her co-star, Mandy Patinkin, hoped for.

Streisand not only directed but also wrote the script and starred as Yentl, a Jewish girl impersonating a boy to pursue religious education. She shared the screen with Patinkin, cast as Avigdor, the character Yentl falls in love with. While their on-screen chemistry was evident, Patinkin reportedly had hopes for a more romantic connection behind the scenes. Streisand, in her memoir "My Name Is Barbra," wrote that Patinkin, renowned for his role in "Criminal Minds," approached her romantically under the impression that she wanted to have an affair with him. Patinkin, though, did not become a part of Streisand's relationship history. At the time "Yentl" was filmed, Streisand was involved with Jon Peters, the producer of "A Star Is Born," while Patinkin was already married to his current wife, Kathryn Grody.

Patinkin and Streisand were good friends at the time. When Patinkin's first child was born around the same time "Yentl" was in production, Streisand sent a silver Tiffany spoon as a gift with the inscription "From Your Auntie Yentl," Patinkin told The New Yorker. Streisand wrote that the two managed to move past the incident, though she opted to curtail their characters' love story in the film as a result.

Mandy Patinkin caused unscripted drama on the set of 'Yentl'

As Barbra Streisand was focused on Mandy Patinkin's performance in "Yentl," Patinkin was more interested in striking up something more romantic with his co-star, according to Streisand. In her memoir, Streisand revealed her dissatisfaction with Patinkin's portrayal of his leading character. Citing a scene just a couple of weeks into filming, according to The New York Post, Streisand wrote in her memoir: "I think [Patinkin] had two or three lines, but he wouldn't look me in the eye. He just stared at my forehead."

In an attempt to address the issue, Streisand said she called Patinkin in for a conversation, but things took a completely different turn. Streisand wrote that, once in her dressing room, Patinkin told her with a frown on his face, "I thought we were going to have a more personal relationship." Despite her shock, Streisand didn't want to make Patinkin feel bad. "Mandy, this kind of behavior can't continue. I'm prepared to replace you," she told him, omitting her lack of interest in a romantic entanglement, especially with a married man.

Although Streisand said that Patinkin managed to adjust his approach after the rejection, the dynamic between them shifted, and she couldn't execute the on-screen love story as originally planned, despite their apparent chemistry. Interestingly, in a Life magazine interview from December 1983, after the movie's release, Patinkin described Streisand as: "A guy. Period. I never thought of her as a girl."

Mandy Patinkin didn't want the role in Barbra Streisand's directorial debut

Years later, Barbra Streisand said she brought up the issue again with Mandy Patinkin. Patinkin sought Streisand's assistance for a note on his album, as Streisand recalled in her memoir. Before getting into it, she said she questioned Patinkin about his behavior during the filming of "Yentl," to which he responded, "Well, I was scared." Notably, the role of Avigdor was Patinkin's first leading role, and he was initially hesitant to even take it on.

In a conversation with The New Yorker, Patinkin explained, "I wasn't a movie star; I wasn't anybody famous or powerful — I was just a stage actor." Despite the casting director's efforts to persuade him to speak to Streisand, he declined, stating, "I don't think it's appropriate, because if someone has spent fourteen years on this, I don't want to be critical of it," referencing the time it took Streisand to develop the script.

Interestingly, Streisand shared a similar perspective in her memoir, acknowledging, "I realize now, in retrospect, that [Patinkin] wasn't used to being a leading man. And I was trying to make him into one," alluding to the fact she pushed Patinkin to accept the part. Despite her initial decision to omit the love-making scene between Avigdor and Yentl, Streisand now seemingly regrets it, admitting that she should have given their story the culmination it deserved.