[WATCH] Richard Dreyfuss on playing villainous Bernie Madoff: ‘Inside of all of us is Hitler and Jesus’

“Inside of all of us is Hitler and Jesus. You’ve got to find the right balance of those things,” admits Richard Dreyfuss as we chat via webcam (watch above) about his preparations to play Bernie Madoff in the ABC limited series “Madoff.” To portray the infamous financier who caused his clients to lose billions he had to find those bad qualities deep inside himself: “In your own life, no one can escape the fact that you are sooner or later incredibly selfish, you lay the blame on others when you know it’s yours, you take more change than you are entitled to, or you lie to the government, or you lie on your audit. We all do those things.”

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Of this diabolical man, Dreyfuss says, “He stole their family’s money without a second thought. And he did it really for the most hedonistic of reasons. He did it just so he could have his shirts made in London and have a house or yacht.”

Until Adrien Brody prevailed at the Academy Awards for the 2002 film “The Pianist” at age 29, Dreyfuss was the youngest Best Actor Oscar champ. He was just 30 when he won for the 1977 movie “The Goodbye Girl.” He laughingly admits his first reaction on arriving at the ceremony that night: “I thought I was going to win it!” and quickly recalls that his competition was Woody Allen (“Annie Hall”), Richard Burton (“Equus”), Marcello Mastroianni (“A Special Day”), and John Travolta (“Saturday Night Fever”).

Although you can see the statuette in the background, he also chuckles as he recalls its refrigerated location for many years: “I thought it was too self-serving to put a focused light on it, but I wanted everyone to know that I had won it. Sooner or later they would always open the refrigerator and they would see it.”

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