Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
Entertaiment | By Lawrence Myers

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

Truths about Madoff and

"Once Upon a Time in America", the last film from director Sergio Leone (known primarily for Westerns such as "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly") is based on "The Hoods", a memoir by Harry Grey (born Herschel Goldberg) - a real member of the Jewish mob scene in early to mid-twentieth century New York City. "And the con artist continues to evolve".

They play real-life couple Bernard and Ruth Madoff in the new drama, which follows the businessman who was sentenced to 150 years in prison for running the biggest fraud scheme in American history.

After scattered laughter and applause from the sold-out audience, Rosenthal mused that perhaps that's material for "another movie".

An actor legendary for how he transforms himself into each character he plays, De Niro had no ready answer for how he grasped Madoff.

LEVINSON: "We weren't just dealing with headlines". But we come up mostly empty, as De Niro expertly delivers evasion, aloofness, concealment. "It's not worth it to hear every asshole's opinion about something".

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De Niro may not say much in interviews, but his performance speaks volumes, particularly in a party scene when he forces his eldest to swap out his steak for lobster, even though the son has no appetite for shellfish.

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

DE NIRO: "Everybody has their reasons for what they do, and he had his". And one can not necessarily fault the actor for playing up the sheer ordinariness of his character: Part of what made Madoff's long-running scheme work, after all, was the impression he created of an understated genius working quietly in the shadows. It's one of the best moments in the film, but Levinson can't simply let it breathe and allow the actors to develop rapport. "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. "What you're doing is fine'". "So I would be surprised if he had an opportunity to see this film that he wouldn't take it", she said. "I think, to some extent, it baffled him a bit".

Still, she thought she was being pranked when she was asked about appearing in the film. "It was surreal", she says. And I was just like there's no magic.

When the Bernie Madoff scandal broke in mid-December 2008, the housing bubble had burst and the economy was in free fall, closing the year on a four-mouth stretch in which 2.4 million people lost their jobs - and the hemorrhaging wasn't almost over yet.

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

LEVINSON: "We talked to the Federal Bureau of Investigation". He gave off a mysterious, phantom-type thing, from what we could surmise.

"I don't think you can conduct your life with such a lack of empathy for the devastation that you're causing and not meet that fairly spongy definition of a psychopath". We don't know about Mark's relationship with his father and Andy [Madoff]'s relationship, et cetera and Ruth's relationship and how that evolved and what was it about and how did that family dynamic work, because no one really knows that story.

"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".

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