The truths about Mad­off and The Wizard of Lies

Windsor Star - - YOU - FRA­ZIER MOORE

NEW YORK For the sec­ond time in lit­tle more than a year, a TV film probes Bernie Mad­off, the fraud­ster-fi­nancier who in 2008 made ex­plo­sive news with his ar­rest for per­pe­trat­ing a Ponzi scheme that ru­ined thou­sands of his clients at a cost of $60 bil­lion or more.In Fe­bru­ary 2016, an ABC docu­d­rama starred Richard Drey­fuss as Mad­off and Blythe Dan­ner as his wife Ruth.

Now HBO is pre­sent­ing The Wizard of Lies, which takes a ret­ro­spec­tive tact framed by its sub­ject as he serves his 150-year prison sen­tence.

Robert De Niro is Mad­off and Michelle Pfeif­fer is Ruth. Barry Levin­son di­rects. The three­some gath­ered to talk about their film.

What were the chal­lenges in mak­ing The Wizard of Lies? Pfeif­fer: It was the first time I had ever played a real per­son, one who was still alive, and I felt that bur­den! I know a lot of women of Ruth’s gen­er­a­tion who were fo­cused on the fam­ily, the chil­dren and left all of the rest to their hus­bands. That was MY mother, who never had a job but in­stilled in me the im­por­tance of hav­ing a ca­reer. I felt like I was re­spon­si­ble for Ruth’s truth be­ing rep­re­sented. I used to have a lot of con­ver­sa­tions: ‘Bar­rrrrrrry! We have to be SURE!’

And did she feel sure? Pfeif­fer: I do, now that I’ve seen the fin­ished prod­uct. Levin­son: I was sent the script for the other one, but I was do­ing some­thing else and I didn’t read it. Then this (The Wizard of Lies) script came up. I never did see the other film, be­cause once we de­cided to do this one, I didn’t want to risk be­ing in­flu­enced.

An ac­tor leg­endary for how he trans­forms him­self into each char­ac­ter he plays, how did De Niro grasp Mad­off ? De Niro: Ev­ery­body has their rea­sons for what they do, and he had his. In act­ing school, you never ‘com­ment’ on the char­ac­ter you play.

You never think, ‘He’s a bad per­son, so there­fore I’m go­ing to do things to make him look bad.’ That’s Rule No. 1. You find a way for the char­ac­ter to jus­tify his own ac­tions.

He gave off a mys­te­ri­ous, phantom-type thing, from what we could sur­mise. I could see how that could help ex­plain how he at­tracted peo­ple. But who is he RE­ALLY?

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