Based on his recent output, it’d be easy to forget just how great an actor Robert De Niro can be, but then an incredible part like Bernie Madoff comes along to remind you of his supreme talent and all is right with the world again.
THE WIZARD OF LIES, which debuts May 20 on HBO, feels like a return to form for De Niro, who looks born to play the crooked financial advisor. This time around he’s working with Barry Levinson, who directed him in films like Wag the Dog, What Just Happened and one of my favorite mid-’90s movies, Sleepers.
Michelle Pfeiffer co-stars as Bernie’s wife, while Alessandro Nivola, Nathan Darrow and Kristen Connolly play his children. The film co-stars Hank Azaria, Lily Rabe, Michael A. Goorjian and Kathrine Narducci, who made her acting debut in De Niro’s 1993 drama A Bronx Tale.
The Wizard of Lies will examine Madoff’s Ponzi scheme and all the lies he told to cover up what many consider the largest financial fraud in U.S. history.
HBO previously gave Al Pacino the opportunity to do some of the best work of his career with Angels in America, You Don’t Know Jack and Phil Spector, so it seems the network is the place to go for serious actors looking to reclaim their glory days, since it’s certainly not the studios anymore. For further proof, see Paramount jettisoning Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman, starring both De Niro and Pacino, to Netflix.
Honestly, we’ll take great acting from these two titans of cinema any way we can get it these days. If only HBO could find something great for De Niro’s fellow Oscar winner Dustin Hoffman (who starred in Levinson’s Rain Man) or a project worthy of luring Jack Nicholson out of retirement…
Jeff Sneider | Editor in Chief