Wizard of Lies: Levinson’s HBO Fil Starring De Niro and Pfeiffer as Bernie and Ruth Madoff

Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer attended the premiere of HBO’s The Wizard of Lies at The Museum of Modern Art in New York City on Thursday night.

Costars Hank Azaria, Kristen Connolly, and Alessandro Nivola were also in attendance.

Directed by Barry Levinson, the film takes a close look into the life of Bernie Madoff’s infamous Ponzi scheme, from his headline-making arrest — among the largest financial frauds in U.S. history — to how his deception and lies affected his family.

The Wizard of Lies premieres Saturday, May 20 at 8pm EST on HBO.

De Niro stars as the titular “wizard” with Pfeiffer in the role of his wife, Ruth Madoff.

Playing the downward spiral of not just Madoff but also his family left the actors involved feeling many different emotions.

“It was unrelenting to see what these people go through and how it affected everyone,” Pfeiffer said. “For Ruth, she lost everything in a day. It was all taken away from her.”

It was hard for Pfeiffer to separate herself from the dark world of Madoff once filming was done for the day.

“There’s a lot of anticipation toward those scenes and anxiety as the day gets closer, so a lot of the times it feels like a huge relief when they’re over. But sometimes it stays with you a little,” she says. “I’m not sure that I’m actually aware of it — my husband says sometimes I disappear a little bit when I work, so I guess I do.”

The film might have hit the hardest for Azaria, who plays Madoff’s partner-in-crime Frank Dipascali. Azaria went to camp with Madoff’s son, Mark, for a few years as a teenager, giving him have even more respect for how Alessandro Nivola portrayed Mark in the film.

“I was particularity taken with Nivola’s work. It wasn’t necessary to sort of grab the genuine actions of Mark Madoff, really — I only knew him until he was 15 years old, I didn’t know him as an adult,” Azaria said. “If he introduced himself as Mark to me years later if there were no tragedy and no horrible suicide, I would have bought it.”

The Wizard of Lies premieres Saturday, May 20 at 8pm EST on HBO.