Michelle Pfeiffer was stunned by Robert De Niro's Madoff resemblance

Danny Woods
May 19, 2017

According to the film's producer and director, Barry Levinson, Pfeiffer briefly spent time hanging out with Ruth Madoff to prepare for the role: "Michelle Pfeiffer spent some time with Mrs. Madoff, so she got a sense of what the woman was like and conversations that might've taken place". The film examines Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme - his deception, lies and cover-up, all as the financier's wife and sons are catapulted into a harsh and unrelenting spotlight. "Jane and I spoke about it and I heard that people had trouble, even Diana had trouble - a lot of restrictions in interviewing him".

"There's a disconnect somehow in him that I still would like to understand", he said earlier this year.

"He lies like the rest of us breathe", Henriques says. The movie, which premieres Saturday at 8 p.m., is largely about that core lack, about how an ordinary but ambitious man like Madoff can skate his way to the top - and around the SEC - if he's willing to shut down his humanity. "That, I feel, is a certain kind of complicitness, but you can never prove (it) with some people".

In the film, De Niro plays the NY financier who bilked billions out of thousands of investors.

As for whether Ruth and the boys knew what swindler Bernie was up to, Azaria says the jury is out - and is likely to stay that way. And I was a bit wary that that would be a mixed message that I was endorsing him. As Madoff's wife, Ruth, Michelle Pfeiffer has a few moving moments, such as her reaction to a rejection at a hair salon, but there's little to distinguish this character from any number of clueless crime-film housewives. "First of all it's not consistent and Queens is - it's just challenging because some of the sounds are just hard and if you're not careful, the accent in and of itself can become caricature", Pfeiffer explained. "You know what? She was awesome", Pfeiffer said of Ruth. "What you're doing is fine'".

"I made the vow right then and there to never take investment advice from Bob", she said. It was great! I think it nearly informs the movie in certain ways. "It's a part of history".

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Still, she thought she was being pranked when she was asked about appearing in the film. I won't say that she likes it.

For more than 10 minutes, writer Diana B. Henriques says, the actor was able to channel "his inner Bernie". And I was just like there's no magic.

In an interview with CNNMoney, Henriques described shooting scenes where she essentially reenacted her two in-person exchanges with the notorious Ponzi scheme operator as a "surreal" experience. You got to get as human as you can: "What is the dynamic between Bernie and Ruth, and between the two sons", both of whom worked for Madoff and were suspected of having known what he was up to, and one of whom, Mark, would commit suicide on the two-year anniversary of his father's stunning downfall.

"Looking at his family, I was reminded somewhat of the Arthur Miller play All My Sons, which basically was about a man who ultimately destroys his family with his lies and greed".

"One of the interesting things is we know the story but we don't know the story", Levinson said. He gave off a mysterious, phantom-type thing, from what we could surmise. I think he was blindsided by the outrage that he had caused.

Levinson said he felt he had more freedom to explore that structure since the audience was already familiar with Madoff.

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