Take Your Prozac—or Else!

Gustav Vintas, an actor and child psychiatrist, dicusses the common ground between acting and psychiatry.

By PT Staff, published on September 1, 1995 - last reviewed on June 9, 2016

Consider the tools of Gustav Vintas's trades: the rifle, the microphone, theDiagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Fortunately, none are used simultaneously. The Argentinian-born Vintas is a child psychiatrist/actor/singer who's played sinister turns in Lethal Weapon, Tales from the Crypt, and the new Cindy Crawford thriller Fair Game, in which he portrays a hacker-turned-assassin. Like any good villain, he has charm and a vampiric accent his grand-parents are Romanian.

PT: Is there common ground between acting and psychiatry?

GV: I believe there is. Take a patient who is extremely reserved, distant. As a Performer, the idea is to bring the audience in. I use what I know about acting to help that person open up.

PT: Does psychiatry help you act?

GV: When she received her Oscar, Maureen Stapleton said: "I'd like to thank everyone I've met in my life." I have met many heavily disturbed people, including a population in psychiatric asylums. I am sure I am somehow using that, though not in a planned way.

PT: Why are you repeatedly cast as a villain? Is there a dark part of you?

GV: Evil is part of our make-up. All of us think at some point about suicide or murder. But I have been playing evil because this is what has been offered to me. I would love to play Cyrano.

PT: Does playing villains contradict what you are doing in therapy?

GV: No, because in these films good prevails over evil. Humans are complicated. If there is a stable, warm family unit, that influences the way people turn out. So to focus on films with guns--what about children who see parents beat each other up? What if they are left alone, or in front of the TV for hours?

PT: How does it feel to be immersed in an evil role?

GV: These roles take me away from the horror of life. In Fair Game I spent my first week of filming in a truck with a shotgun, shooting the hell out of Cindy Crawford and William Baldwin. And as a memento, I kept the empty cartridges because it was such a pleasure to shoot that gun at the two of them.

PHOTO (BLACK & WHITE): Gustav Vintas