Wizard of Lies: HBO Movie Starring De Niro as Bernie Madoff

HBO’s upcoming film The Wizard of Lies, based on Diana B. Henriques’ book of the same name, tells the story of Bernie Madoff, the Wall Street con man whose Ponzi scheme stole $65 billion from clients.

The Wizard of Lies will premiere on HBO in May.

The film’s star, Robert De Niro, was asked at the TV Critics Association press tour whether Madoff was a sociopath.

“His kids didn’t know and his wife didn’t know,” De Niro said. “What he did is beyond my comprehension. So there’s a disconnect somehow that I still would like to understand.”

Henriques, who served as a consultant on the film, said, when asked if she thought Madoff was a sociopath. “I don’t think you can conduct your life with such lack of empathy for the devastation that your causing without meeting that fairly spongy definition.

Barry Levinson, who directed, said that, despite De Niro’s presence, the film would have been difficult to do as a theatrical feature. “The business is rapidly changing,” Levinson said. “Theatrical is going one way. We’re seeing the cable world, seeing HBO delving into subjects that are not happening.”

Executive producer Jane Rosenthal said that cable made more sense as a platform for the film. “We had looked at doing this as a theatrical,” Rosenthal said. “Then we brought it to be HBO.”

She added, “We realized that no studio wanted to make it. We would have had to the independent-film route. It was going to be a struggle to get that made. We would have a much smaller audience seeing it as a theatrical. As screens are all blurring, and as this business is rapidly changing, this was the best place to make the film.