Robert De Niro will be starring as Bernie Madoff in a new HBO movie called The Wizard of Lies, which will make its debut on the premium channel in May of this year. In a new teaser, you can now catch your first glimpse of the 73-year-old De Niro playing Madoff, the infamous scamster and one of history’s all-time biggest thieves.
The real Bernie Madoff, who operated what has been described as “the biggest Ponzi Scheme in US History,” came into the public spotlight when his fraudulent activities first surfaced in the fall of 2008. As Town & Country describes, he was sentenced to 150 years in prison the following year for a number of “financial crimes,” all but ensuring he will spend the rest of his life behind bars.
— Gary Levin (@GaryMLevin) January 14, 2017
Madoff, who will turn 79 years old later this year, is serving his time in a facility in North Carolina. According to an article that was recently published on MarketWatch, Madoff has reportedly gotten into the business of selling hot chocolate to his fellow inmates while in prison.
“At one point, he cornered the hot chocolate market,” journalist Steve Fishman says in the MarketWatch article. “He bought up every package of Swiss Miss from the commissary and sold it for profit on the prison yard.”
In addition to De Niro, TheWizard of Lies will also star Michelle Pfeiffer (Scarface, I am Sam). Pfeiffer will play Madoff’s wife, Ruth Madoff, who, along with their two sons, was unaware of the Ponzi Scheme. In real life, Ruth was permitted to keep $2.5 million after her husband’s wrongdoings had come to light and he was sent to prison. She has since moved to Connecticut, according to ABC.
Madoff’s sons, Mark and Andrew, who worked with their father, are played by Alessandro Nivola and Nathan Darrow, respectively. After Madoff was put behind bars, tragedy struck and both of his sons passed away. Mark took his own life in 2010, and Andrew lost a battle with cancer in 2014. In an email later sent to NBC News, Madoff said that the devastation he had done to investors was “nothing” when compared to the loss of both his sons.
“As difficult as it is for me to live with the pain I have inflicted on so many, there is nothing to compare with the degree of pain I endure with the loss of my son’s Mark and Andy. I live with the knowledge that they never forgave me for betraying their love and trust,” Madoff says in the email.
Wizard of Lies is based on a book by Diana B. Henriques, and it is directed by Barry Levinson. According to Entertainment Weekly, Henriques also makes an appearance in the film.
Per Entertainment Weekly, Henriques was very impressed by De Niro being able to so flawlessly and convincingly transform himself into Madoff for the film. In the article, there is a particular scene that is discussed when Madoff, being played by De Niro, is interviewed behind bars.
An incredibly talented actor who has appeared in more than 100 movies and played so many memorable characters, from Jimmy Conway in Goodfellas to Jack Byrnes in Meet The Parents and its sequels, it isn’t too surprising to learn that De Niro delivered an impeccable performance.
“It was so convincing,” Henriques told Entertainment Weekly. “He was able to occupy a character and walk outside the script. [Robert De Niro] answering those questions as Madoff was utterly convincing. It was astonishing to watch as a civilian.”
According to those who were involved, the film is reportedly being produced through HBO because it may not have worked as a theatrical project. In an article on Variety, Levinson and executive producer Jane Rosenthal both seemed to agree that HBO was the more appropriate gateway, upon being asked at the Television Critics Association winter press tour.
Richard Dreyfuss on Playing Bernie Madoff https://t.co/W8xKvFwaP4 pic.twitter.com/wJi8FHXSuu
— Holly Gossip (@hollygossipsite) July 2, 2016
Wizard of Lies is not the first attempt to tell the story of Madoff and his Ponzi scheme on film either, so if a show depicting his fall from grace sounds familiar, it should. Less than one year ago, in February of 2016, Richard Dreyfuss (American Graffiti, Stakeout, Mr. Holland’s Opus) starred as Madoff in an ABC miniseries. It should be interesting to see how De Niro’s portrayal of Madoff might differ from that of Dreyfuss’.
What do you think of the Wizard of Lies teaser? Do you think that De Niro’s resemblance to Madoff is uncanny?
[Featured Image by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images]