Harry Houdini was only 52 when he died in 1926, leaving behind an incomparable legacy. Born as Erik Weisz in Budapest, Houdini clawed his way up from poverty to become a world-famous stage magician, escape artist, debunker of superstitions, and film star. A figure as accomplished as Houdini naturally invites the biopic treatment – so much so that multiple movies and television specials have already been made about his life, including a proposed feature film by director Gary Ross (The Hunger Games).
Such is Houdini's appeal that History Channel has decided to create a new interpretation of his life, tentatively (and unsurprisingly) titled Houdini. A big part of this project's appeal may come from its headlining star – Academy Award-winner, Adrien Brody (The Grand Budapest Hotel).
EW has announced that History Channel has wrapped up a deal for Adrien Brody to star in a miniseries covering the whole of Harry Houdini's life and career. The project will be produced by Gerald Abrams (Modern Marvels), who has overseen television projects nearly forty years. For the moment, Brody is the only actor attached to the series.
Houdini sees History Channel branching even further into scripted entertainment. The network has seen previous success with miniseries with The Hatfields and the McCoys and The Bible. In addition, the ongoing series Vikings has seen good-enough ratings and critical press that it has recently secured a second season.
The miniseries will mark the first time Brody has worked in television since his early career. This may speak to the strength of Houdini's material, but may also be indicative of Brody being unable to secure a seriously standout role since his Oscar-winning turn in The Pianist. Few performers have ever been as beloved and mythologized as Houdini; as such, the role would be a tempting one for any experienced actor. That Brody bears a (certain) physical resemblance to the master escapist is a bonus.
Even with the little information we have on Houdini at this time, it sounds like a promising project. History Channel's fictional projects have so far been somewhat critically divisive, but have also attracted viewers curious to see what a network previously devoted to documentary and reality programming can do with scripted shows. We'll be watching closely to see how Houdini shapes up.
Houdini does not currently have a release date. Don't let any new details escape by keeping your eyes on Screen Rant.