Barbra Streisand opens up about past on-set challenges in her memoir.
Barbra Streisand, the illustrious EGOT recipient, has unveiled some of the more trying episodes that transpired during the making of her 1983 directorial endeavor, ‘Yentl’, within the pages of her newly published memoir, ‘My Name Is Barbra’. In this poignant account, Streisand not only took on the roles of writer and director but also starred in this groundbreaking film, which tells the story of Yentl, an Ashkenazi Jewish woman who, in defiance of societal norms, adopts a male persona to pursue academic studies following her father’s death.
At 81, Streisand revisits the days of ‘Yentl’ and reveals the complexities of working with co-star Mandy Patinkin, who was cast as Avigdor. Patinkin, now 70, stood out as the sole cast member to significantly disrupt Streisand’s directorial poise. Streisand recounts a particularly intense encounter in her dressing room with Patinkin, who had then expressed a misplaced expectation of an off-screen romantic liaison with her, despite his married status and her clear lack of mutual interest.
Streisand’s recounting of the interaction is direct and unapologetic. She had entertained no thoughts of an affair, especially not under the dual pressures of directing and acting, let alone with someone she wasn’t drawn to on a personal level. His emotional response to her professional stance on the matter left Streisand in a delicate position, balancing the integrity of the film’s production against the emotional well-being of her co-star.
Patinkin, who is married to actor and writer Kathryn Grody, had his representatives contacted for comments, which at the time of reporting had not been provided.
Streisand’s challenges with Patinkin didn’t just end with personal boundaries but extended to her directorial efforts. She recalls exerting effort to shape his portrayal of Avigdor to embody a strong and compelling lead, which might have contributed to the tension between them. Looking back, Streisand acknowledges the actor’s discomfort with being shaped into a leading man, suggesting his previous experiences hadn’t prepared him for such a role.
Years later, the discord between Streisand and Patinkin surfaced again when he approached her for a professional favor, which she declined, candidly addressing the unresolved strain from their ‘Yentl’ days. The exchange, however, ended on a note of mutual understanding and revelation of Patinkin’s fear, a driving force behind his difficult behavior.
Streisand also details the impact of their strained relationship on the film’s narrative, particularly in a significant scene that was ultimately rewritten due to the off-screen dynamics, a decision she retrospectively questions.
‘Yentil’ went on to win a Golden Globe for Streisand’s direction and an Oscar for Best Original Song Score, underscoring her achievements despite the production challenges.
‘My Name Is Barbra’ is available now, offering readers an intimate look into the experiences that have shaped Streisand’s legendary career and personal growth.