Actress Blythe Danner had the chance to meet Ruth Madoff before playing her in the upcoming ABC miniseries “Madoff." She said she doesn’t believe the grandmother played a role in the massive Ponzi scheme orchestrated by her husband, Bernard Madoff.
“I don’t believe she was [an accomplice],” Danner said today on "Good Morning America." “He really did rule the roost. There was no question about it.”
“Madoff” documents the life of Bernard Madoff, the investment adviser who is currently serving a 150-year prison sentence for bilking an estimated 20,000 investors for up to $65 billion in a vast Ponzi scheme. The miniseries also focuses on how his crimes affected those in his inner circle, including his wife, Ruth.
“I don’t know that it’s a love story,” Danner said. “I think we understand how this woman was duped by a sociopath, you know, that this man who she loved from the time that she met him when she was 16, just completely allowed him to take over her life.”
Danner said she spoke with friends of the couple and walked away with a portrait of Ruth as someone who was “very motherly” toward her husband.
“Everyone that I talked to that knew them both said that she behaved quite differently when she was with her friends and having, you know, some wine and a good time,” Danner recalled. “The minute Bernie appeared, she was much, much more formal and really cared, watched him, made sure he ate properly.”
Danner described Ruth, who now lives in isolation, as “fragile” but supported by family.
“She was fragile. How could you not be, you’ve weathered this unbelievable storm,” Danner said. “I was impressed though that she was able to walk around and be present.”
“She wanted me, I think, to realize, to see that she was a mother, a grandmother, who is very, very much loved by her family,” Danner added. “I could see the support she had around her so I felt good about that for her.”
The miniseries, which begins Feb. 3 on ABC, stars Richard Dreyfuss as Bernard Madoff and Tom Lipinski and Danny Deferrari as the couple's sons, Mark and Andrew. Charles Grodin and Lewis Black will also appear in the miniseries, which was directed by Raymond De Felitta.
"Madoff" is inspired by the book "The Madoff Chronicles," written by ABC News Chief Investigative correspondent Brian Ross. A one-hour ABC News special, “Madoff: After the Fall,” will air Thursday, Feb. 4.