Michelle Pfeiffer was convinced real footage of incarcerated conman Bernie Madoff had been used in her new film The Wizard Of Lies because co-star Robert De Niro’s likeness was uncanny.
The Raging Bull star shaved the top of his head to portray the balding convicted fraudster in the Barry Levinson movie, made for HBO, and Michelle, who plays Bernie’s wife Ruth, could barely tell the difference between their shoot and actual news coverage of Madoff’s Ponzi scheme bust in 2008.
“There were some scenes in the movie… (where) I actually had to do a double take and think, ‘Oh, did they use real footage?’ because he (De Niro) looked so much like him (Madoff),” she explained in a joint interview on Today.
De Niro was pleased to invoke such a reaction from his own co-star, because he fought the idea of simply wearing a bald cap for the role.
“I did the shaving of the head because when you put a… bald cap (on), you always know if you look carefully, the forehead’s heightened just ever so slightly,” he shared, “so I thought you have to do that (shave) to get the real effect.”
Meanwhile, Michelle was “really surprised” to be granted a sit-down with Ruth Madoff, but the actress decided against asking any “probing questions” to find out what she knew about her husband’s illegal dealings, stating, “I felt like she had been victimized enough by the media. I certainly didn’t want to add to her torture, so I just wanted to observe her and we spent about an hour together. I wanted to get a sense of her.”
Bernie Madoff is currently serving a 150-year prison term for stealing billions of dollars from people like John Malkovich, Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick, and the late Zsa Zsa Gabor.
The Wizard of Lies premieres on Saturday (20May17).