Based on the first trailer for The Wizard of Lies—HBO’s upcoming dramatization of the Bernie Madoff scandal and its devastating aftermath—the film is at once a family drama, a courtroom procedural, and above all else, a monster movie.
The monster of course is Madoff, the New York financier and mastermind behind the $50 billion Ponzi scheme that destroyed the lives of thousands of investors-turned-victims. Here, Madoff is played with chilling precision by Robert De Niro, who wears his callousness on his sleeve as the scope of his deceptions are revealed, and his life begins to unravel.
The Barry Levinson-directed film will examine the toll Madoff’s lies took on his own family, particularly his wife Ruth (played by Michelle Pfeiffer), as she comes to terms with being Mrs. Most Hated Man in America. “Why does the world hate me? They all think I’m some kind of a mastermind,” she says in the trailer. “Take it as a compliment, Ruth,” Bernie fires back.
Madoff’s sons are also heavily featured, as they try to process what their father has done. It’s worth noting that Mark Madoff hung himself to death on the second anniversary of his dad’s stunning downfall.
But of course, the Madoffs were just a fraction of the massive collateral damage of their patriarch’s horrific crime. We see that here too, as Madoff pleads guilty in court while his victims explain how his actions destroyed their lives.
Madoff is currently serving a 150 year sentence behind bars, and while he probably has access to a television, something tells us he’ll be skipping this one.
The Wizard of Lies premieres on May 20th on HBO. Watch the trailer above.