There are a number of Harry Houdini films said to be in the works for the big screen. It seems only reasonable that we might see a small screen take on the master of illusion and escape. Last spring, we learned that History was developing a miniseries about Harry Houdini, which would star Adrien Brody as the title role. Today comes word that History has greenlit the project to go into production. In addition to Oscar winner Adrien Brody, Houdini will also star Kristen Connolly.
History made the announcement today, stating that Brody and Connolly will star in Houdini, which will be directed by Academy Award Nominated Uli Edel and co-produced by Lionsgate and A+E Studios. Brody will play magician Harry Houdini, while Kristen Connolly (House of Cards, As The World Turns) will play his wife Bess. The miniseries will tell the story of Houdini from his impoverished earlier years to the worldwide fame he went on to achieve as an illusionist and escape artist.
Houdini was born Erik Weisz in Budapest, Austria-Hungary in 1874 and moved to the U.S. in 1878. He began professionally practicing magic in 1891 and went on to rise to frame during the turn of the century, going on to be known as "The Handcuff King" and "Harry Handcuff Houdini." He was known to challenge police forces to try to keep him locked up and then find a way to escape. More than a hundred years later, people still know his name.
From History's announcement, it sounds like Adrien Brody idolized Houdini when he was growing up:
“Since my childhood, when I dreamed of being a great magician, Harry Houdini has been one of my heroes,” said Adrien Brody. “His bravery and obsessive determination still fascinate me. Houdini mastered the art of escape – not only from physical chains, but from poverty and the social constraints of a humble immigrant origin. His life story appeals to the universal longing for acceptance with which we all can identify. To portray him is beyond an honor.”
Whether or not the film captures what's resonated so well with Brody remains to be seen. What it does set up to capture is:
HOUDINI follows the man behind the magic as he finds fame, engages in espionage, battles spiritualists and encounters the greatest names of the era, from U.S. presidents to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Grigori Rasputin. The drama will chronicle the life of a man who can defy death through his stunts, his visions and his mastery of illusion.
More than a century after he rose to fame Harry Houdini's name is still well known. Illusionists like David Blaine and David Copperfield have kept people actively interested in the art of escape and illusion, so a miniseries about the master of the art seems particularly fitting. And Brody is an incredibly talented actor, who seems like a pretty fantastic fit to play the lead.
Production on the four-hour scripted miniseries for History will begin this fall.