“It’s classic, Shakespearean almost,” says actor Robert De Niro about the rise and fall of Wall Street con artist Bernie Madoff, who ran a Ponzi scheme that defrauded investors of over $60 billion. He plead guilty in 2009 and is currently serving a 150-year sentence in federal prison. Now De Niro is playing the disgraced financier in a new HBO film, “The Wizard of Lies,” which premieres on May 20. Watch HBO’s interview with De Niro above.
“It’s kind of a classic thing, the way he conned everybody by not conning them. By just being so removed he lets the people come to him. He was really good at it,” De Niro adds about Madoff’s criminal activity, which allowed him to maintain his scheme for nearly 20 years. “There were people that just didn’t trust him or want to go near him. They saw something’s not right here. And there were other people who, for whatever reason, genuinely trusted him.”
De Niro has spent his career working predominantly in film, where he has earned seven Oscar nominations, including victories for “The Godfather: Part II” (Best Supporting Actor, 1975) and “Raging Bull” (Best Actor, 1981). He has never been nominated for an Emmy Award, but now he is one of the leading contenders for Best Movie/Mini Actor. He could also win Best TV Movie as an executive producer of the telefilm.
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