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Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer hit the red carpet for the premiere of HBO’s The Wizard of Lies at The Museum of Modern Art in New York City on Thursday night. Co-stars Hank Azaria, Kristen Connolly, Nathan Darrow, and Alessandro Nivola were also in attendance.
The film, directed by Barry Levinson, takes a closer look into the life of Bernie Madoff’s infamous Ponzi scheme, from his headline-making arrest — among the largest financial frauds in U.S. history — to how his deception and lies affected his family. De Niro stars as the titular “wizard” with Pfeiffer in the role of his wife, Ruth Madoff.
Taking Madoff’s story and bringing it to life onscreen was no easy task. Portraying the downward spiral of not just Madoff but also his family left the actors involved feeling many different emotions.
“It was unrelenting to see what these people go through and how it affected everyone,” Pfeiffer told The Hollywood Reporter. “And for me — Ruth, mostly — she lost everything in a day. It was all taken away from her.”
When it came to stepping into the role, sometimes it was hard for Pfeiffer to completely separate herself from the dark world of Madoff once filming was done for the day.
“There’s a lot of anticipation toward those scenes and anxiety as the day gets closer, so a lot of the times it feels like a huge relief when they’re over. But sometimes it stays with you a little,” she says. “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.”
Of all the cast, the film might have hit home the hardest for Azaria, who plays Madoff’s partner-in-crime, Frank Dipascali. Azaria went to camp with Madoff’s son, Mark, for a few years as a teenager, giving him have even more respect for how Alessandro Nivola portrayed Mark in the film.
” was particularity taken with Nivola’s work. It wasn’t necessary to sort of grab the genuine actions of Mark Madoff, really — I only knew him until he was maybe 15 years old, I didn’t know him as an adult — but he really did,” Azaria told THR. “If he introduced himself as Mark to me years later if there were no tragedy and no horrible suicide, I would have bought it.”
The Wizard of Lies premieres Saturday, May 20, at 8 p.m. EST on HBO.
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