Review: Mentalist Vinny DePonto plays benevolent mind games at the Geffen Playhouse
By David Hinckley, Globe Staff
Jan. 26, 2013 | 10:01 a.m.
Vinny DePonto, who plays a master of mentalism on TV’s The Mentalist, smiles during some of his more dramatic moments.
Globe correspondent Michael Cassutti caught up with the man behind the show at his home outside Los Angeles.
Why does Vinny DePonto want to play?
“If it’s not for this job. Then it’s a terrible job; it’s boring.”
The Mentalist airs Friday nights at 8:00 p.m. on CBS. And when he says “show,” he means it. This season, the show is going back to its roots with a blend of mentalism and sleuthing that has been the hallmark of its long run.
As DePonto, the show’s resident detective (and master illusion), he uses his keen powers of observation to track down suspects using a number of methods — from séance to Ouija board — and he also uses his mind to solve crimes.
But it was the casting of DePonto that got the show off the ground in the first place. In the pilot, the character of Victor Danvers finds himself on the trail of a cold-blooded serial killer. The role went to DePonto, and CBS ordered 20 episodes at the time.
After it aired for two seasons, The Sopranos — another series with a similar DNA — was already taking off. So CBS decided to do a deal with DePonto and, of course, the show became a hit. Now he’s getting ready for the start of another season.
Here are excerpts from an interview with DePonto, edited for space and clarity.
You’ve said on some shows that you want to give viewers a mentalist they can relate to. Why do you find it important that The Mentalist relate to viewers?
The thing about The Mentalist, and in TV in general, is that it’s a show built on its character and not so much on a series or on its storylines. And that makes it very relatable to viewers, but also builds to a strong character.
When you see that character