He was raised in a conservative Jewish family, and started singing in synagogue choirs at age thirteen. He later attended Julliard with fellow actor Kelsey Grammer.
He won an Emmy Award in 1995 for his role on the medical drama series Chicago Hope, and he later received acclaim for his role as Saul Berenson on the Showtime series Homeland.
His cousins include Mark Patinkin, author and syndicated journalist, and Sheldon Patinkin, on of the founders of The Second City comedy troupe. In 1980 he married Kathryn Grody and together they had two children.
Rob Reiner directed him in his memorable performance in The Princess Bride.