Truths about Madoff and "Wizard of Lies" from its creators

Pierre Vaugeois
Mai 18, 2017

That was MY mother, who never had a job but instilled in me the importance of having a career.

"I knew Ruth wasn't happy about this film being made", Pfeiffer told Town & Country.

Pfeiffer revealed that her husband, David E. Kelley, took notice of her commitment to the role: "I'm not sure that I'm actually aware of it - my husband says sometimes I disappear a little bit when I work, so I guess I do". "This was a package I had not seen before".

She conceded that ABC's rival Madoff film, with its significant jump on the HBO project, "gave me pause, learning that was going on". "I only got one take with each interview with Bernie and then the prison authorities scooted me out the door". Instead, "The Wizard of Lies" spends much of its overlong two hours and 15 minutes running time repeating how Madoff's crimes victimized members of his family. In the film, publicity about the scandal explodes (we see several clips from news coverage at the time.) But about all Madoff says regarding his misdeeds is to complain that the 2007-2008 financial crisis made him a scapegoat.

The De Niro team at Douglas Elliman averages more than $250 million in yearly sales. We had experts to speak to, sources of information, so that was all good.

"There's still a disconnect somehow in him and I still would like to understand". It was great! I think it nearly informs the movie in certain ways.

An actor legendary for how he transforms himself into each character he plays, De Niro had no ready answer for how he grasped Madoff. In those bleak scenes (in which Henriques plays herself), you sense that he has a phenomenal sense of denial - a quality, it seems, every person who perpetrates a Ponzi scheme must have, since inevitably the scheme will crash. "It was unrelenting to see what these people go through and how it affected everyone". You can't avoid them but no one really who comes into contact with them expects any real pleasure. Citing his Oscar-winning performance as a real-life boxing champ in the 1980 blockbuster "Raging Bull", De Niro cracked, "I don't KNOW who Jake LaMotta is, really!" Neither the script, by Sam Levinson, Samuel Baum, and John Burnham Schwartz, from the book by Diana Henriques, nor Barry Levinson's direction, gets very far into Madoff. But certainly (you can have sympathy) for the kids, who both ended tragically, and Ruth. "I wanted to meet [Bernie]", he says. "In fact after I met her, we'd been shooting already, and I'd been working on the accent and working with the dialect coach and I was trying to find that right balance and I came back, and I said, 'Barry, I'm not anxious at all about going to heavy on this accent.' He said, 'No, no, no, it's fine". "We're from NY and you're going to know somebody".

Those connections and De Niro's mesmerizing performance enrich "The Wizard of Lies". "Everyone's got one. And we've got a big asshole in the White House".

This image released by HBO shows Nathan Darrow as Andrew Madoff, left, Robert De Niro as Bernie Madoff, center, and Alessandro Nivola as Mark Madoff in "The Wizard of Lies", premiering Saturday at 8 p.m. ET on HBO.

In a telling scene from HBO's upcoming TV movie The Wizard of Lies, Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff (Robert De Niro) and his wife, Ruth (Michelle Pfeiffer), are in the kitchen of their lush Manhattan apartment.

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