Richard Dreyfuss on ‘Madoff’ and the ‘most beautiful body of work of any actor in America’
Before shooting on “Madoff” began, Richard Dreyfuss, who plays the title character, didn’t want to speak to or hear from the disgraced financier because he didn’t trust what Madoff would have to say.
Fraudulent investment adviser Bernie Madoff had a laundry list of complaints about his depiction in the recent, two-part ABC TV movie “Madoff.” But, as Richard Dreyfuss, the man who played Madoff, jokes, none of them had to do with the performance.
Not that the Academy Award-winning actor cared about the opinion of Madoff, currently in federal prison for his role in a Ponzi scheme that is considered the largest financial fraud in U.S. history. Preparing for the role, Dreyfuss never reached out to Madoff.
“I didn’t want to talk to him,” the 68-year-old actor told The Times in a video interview. “I didn’t want to make him important. And what was he going to tell me? A Queens accent? I already have that. He was going to tell me the truth? Yeah. Right. So there was no reason for me to speak to him. He was a monster. A socio-pathological monster.”
Having played Dick Cheney in Oliver Stone’s “W.,” Dreyfuss is no stranger to portraying reviled public figures. (“There’s a little bit of Cheney in all of us and there’s a lot of Madoff,” he says.)
Still, Madoff wasn’t hated until his fraud was finally exposed. Until then, his investors adored him.
“He had to be the friendliest, mensch-iest, most comfortable guy in the world,” Dreyfuss says. “He had to seduce bat mitzvah girls. And he did. So they gave him their millions because he was just Uncle Bernie.”
You can watch the entire interview, during which Dreyfuss says that he owns “the most beautiful body of work of any actor in America,” below. He’s definitely prepared to back up his claim.
Richard Dreyfuss talks about playing Bernie Madoff.
From the Emmys to the Oscars.
Get our revamped Envelope newsletter for exclusive awards season coverage, behind-the-scenes insights and columnist Glenn Whipp’s commentary.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.