Johnny Depp to Play Harry Houdini

Johnny Depp

Johnny Depp is possibly up to play the infamous illusionist, Harry Houdini, in the upcoming Lionsgate film, The Secret Life of Harry Houdini: The Making of America’s First Superhero. Dean Parisot of Red 2 and Galaxy Quest is set to direct this imaginative take on the legendary life of Houdini.

The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America’s First Superhero plans to add an adventurous twist to the life of the magician by also portraying him as a spy and investigator of occultic beliefs. After getting bored with show business, Houdini uses his performance skills to get him in and out of dangerous situations. The movie is based off the 2007 book by Larry Sloman. Although the book is rich with true information about Houdini’s life and career, Sloman puts a Sherlock Holmes twist on the story. The spy aspect was a clever catch to keep readers interested, but in the movie it may become the entire concept. If Houdini’s life was not interesting enough to begin with, fans can expect the film to look a bit like what would happen if Indiana Jones starred in the The Prestige (2006).

The legendary Harry Houdini was born in Budapest, Hungary, in 1874 as Ehrich Weisz. He created his stage name after his idol, a French magician named Robert Houdin. He gained recognition for constantly escaping the police, who were unable to contain him in cuffs or in jail. He started a show based off his escape arts, and later moved onto an international audience. His acts touched hundreds of stages and movie theaters during the early 20th century. In the 1920s he became renowned for debunking famous spiritualist and mediums, a trade he thought diminished the art of magic with religious notions. He died at the age of 52 as the result of a ruptured appendix.

The dark and mysterious presence of Johnny Depp just may be the perfect fit for Harry Houdini. Depp has proved himself to be an extremely diverse actor and has three Oscar nominations, as well as a number of well known characters under his belt. The 50-year-old actor has been working successfully since the early 80s, but a few of his most recent films were poorly received at box offices. The Lone Ranger (2013) and Transcendence (2014) were a major disappointment for fans, but he has a number of exciting films in the works to make it up to them. The sequel to Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland (2010) adaptation is set to bring Depp back as the Mad Hatter. The film is titled Through the Looking Glass and will come to theaters in 2016. This time around Burton will not be directing, but instead he hands the torch over to James Bobin, of the new Muppets films, and Flight of the Conchords (2007). Also keeping Depp busy with Disney Studios is Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (2016), the fifth film from their blockbuster series.

Houdini is long gone, but his name and reputation have not vanished. Thanks to Lionsgate, fans will be seeing Johnny Depp playing Harry Houdini in a new film within the next couple years.

By Morgan Louchen

Movie Pilot
Hollywood Reporter
The Great Harry Houdini 

2 Responses to "Johnny Depp to Play Harry Houdini"

  1. mischling2nd   September 27, 2014 at 9:49 pm

    Adam Martinez, it is wrong to call Richard Potter an “African American.” Since he didn’t look black and didn’t identify that way, he should not be dishonored with a false racial identity he would have rejected when he was alive.

  2. Adam Martinez   June 2, 2014 at 12:45 pm

    Johnny Depp is a talented actor and I like all his movies. There has been quite a few Houdini films made that I have seen. I’ve enjoyed them all. But I would rather see something new and original. My choice would be to see a movie based on the life of another amazing magician way before Harry Houdini. The birth of Richard Potter in 1783 is celebrated on this date. He was a magician, one of the first black illusionist in America.

    Potter was born in New Hampshire, the son of an English baronet and an African servant woman. He was educated in Europe before beginning his 25-year career as a performer in post-Revolutionary America. He lived with his father in Hopkinton, NH, until he married his wife, Sally, and had three children.

    Potter has been credited as America’s first successful stage magician, hypnotist, and ventriloquist. One of the earliest records of Potter advertising his shows was on November 2, 1811, in Boston at the Columbian Museum. The performance featured ventriloquism and magic.

    Potter performed in Boston, throughout New England, and Canada. “Legend” says Potter was able to climb a rope and disappear while performing outdoors surrounded by spectators. Officially, his best-known illusion was “crawling through a log” and Potter could skillfully throw his voice, especially using bird sounds. Whether he was the first to use a ventriloquist’s doll or dummy isn’t known.

    Potter lived on a 175-acre farm in Andover that he purchased in 1814, The Potter estate consisted of several rooms on the first floor, the second floor was said to be one big room. The Potter’s would have lavish dinner parties at there home, where he would entertain.

    Potter was very successful and it is said that he made $4800 for a 20-day engagement in Alabama in the early 1800s. Potter’s prestidigitation with eggs, money, and cards was considered of scientific interest, and he often performed at the Columbia Museum in Boston. He could throw knives and touch a hot iron to his tongue, walk on flames, and dance on eggs without breaking them. He performed in New York and all over New England. Charles Brewster, in his history of Portsmouth, NH, refers to Potter as living on what is now State Street. Potter apparently had a son of the same name who performed magic like his father. In 1813, Potter’s success allowed him to buy a 175-acre farm in Andover, NH, in the village now known as Potter’s Place. His story intrigued Harry Houdini, who included Potter in his popular magazine of magic.

    Potter died on September 20, 1835. Sometime after his death and the death of his wife, Sally, the couple was buried in the front yard of their estate but the house burned down. Potter and his wife’s graves were moved to their present site in 1849 to make room for the railroad. All that remains to this day is a small plot with the gravestones (shown). Inscribed on Richard’s stone is “In Memory of Richard Potter, the celebrated Ventriloquist, Aged 52 years. Died Sept. 20 1835.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.