John Malkovich had to work constantly the past decade after losing millions to fraudster Bernie Madoff

US actor John Malkovich.
PHOTO: Reuters

In Dec 2008, John Malkovich lost his life savings to financier Madoff, who defrauded thousands of investors out of an estimated US$64.8 billion (S$92 billion) in a Ponzi scheme, and was given a 150-year jail sentence in 2009.

Malkovich admitted he and his long-term partner Nicoletta Peyran had to make wholesale changes to their lifestyle, and he had to accept as many roles that came his way to become financially secure again.

In an interview with The Guardian newspaper, he said: "Our then business manager had invested pretty much everything we'd ever made with somebody called Bernie Madoff. Everything I'd ever made was gone.

"I saw a picture of Bernie Madoff in handcuffs and said, 'I'm going to go to the corner to get a packet of cigarettes. I think we have a little problem with Madoff.'"

When asked how much money he lost in total, he added: "Oh, I don't know. A lot. But I don't think it mattered that much. We just made changes to the way we lived and the money we spent.

"I had to do more work that paid for a number of years, and work all the time. And I stopped paying for everything. I just stopped paying for friends and family for a time. And we used to spend a lot of money producing movies that lost quite a lot of money. That stopped."

Malkovich insisted he was only angry about his lost fortune for a few days and kept reminding himself he was still in a privileged position compared to most of his fellow Americans.

He said: "After a couple or three days, you go, 'You're lucky to be alive, you're lucky to have a job.' Almost no one has money in the banks. I read somewhere that a huge percentage of Americans wouldn't have US$400 to put between their hands in an emergency."

After five decades in the movie business, he said he'd be content if he never landed another role for the rest of his life.

When asked if it would bother him if he never got another job offer, the 66-year-old actor replied: "No! It would require a change in the way we live. But we already did that 12 years ago. So that would be fine."