Is Johnny Depp about to explore Houdini's secret life in a new biopic?
Could we soon see Johnny Depp attempt a great escape on screen as legendary illusionist Harry Houdini? Apparently yes, as according to The Hollywood Reporter, Depp is in negotiations with Lionsgate to play the magician in a upcoming biopic. But what do we know so far about the film, which looks to explore Houdini's other secret life?
Johnny Depp's next trick could be playing Houdini
Entitled The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America's First Superhero, the movie is said to be “in the vein of Indiana Jones,” which sounds slightly puzzling. But actually it’s quite straightforward, the movie will be based on the book of the same name by William Kalush and Larry Sloman which not only chronicles Houdini’s career as an illusionist but also covers his legacy of investigating and debunking spiritualists and the occult.
As it happens Houdini’s aptitude for trickery was not just limited to the stage. He also used his impressive array of skills to debunk fraudulent psychics and mediums, gaining fame as a “ghostbuster” (not the 80s kind) and making an enemy in one Arthur Conan Doyle. His successes have led some, including authors Kalush and Sloman, to theorise that his death might actually have been arranged by the Spiritualist community in retaliation for his investigations against them. Houdini died in 1926 from peritonitis after taking punches to the stomach from a student who had asked him if it was true that punches didn't hurt him.
Aside from the rumours surrounding Houdini's death, there's also been another persistent rumour which has garnered much media attention. In their book, Kalush and Sloman also try to prove that Houdini was also a spy working for secret service agencies in the US and Britain. A theory which looks set to play a major part in the film.
Directing will be Dean Parisot, who's previous credits include Fun with Dick and Jane and Red 2. He's also an Oscar winner taking the Best Live Action Short Film award in 1988 for The Appointments of Dennis Jennings. Noah Oppenheim has written the movie's screenplay, having just finished the script for the upcoming Maze Runner adaptation. While Christi Dembrowski, Depp's producing partner, is thought to be in negotiations to produce, having just finished work on Mortdecai alongside the actor.
As for Depp's career, well he hasn't exactly being been setting the box office alight as of late. His last films The Lone Ranger and Transcendence both suffered from negative reviews which kept audiences away. However if Depp does take the Houdini role he has a few offerings to come first which could resurrect his box office status.
Johnny Depp hasn't had much box office success as of late
His next on screen appearance will be as part of the ensemble cast of musical Into the Woods where Depp will play The Wolf, it’s set for release in December of this year. Early next year Depp takes the lead in crime caper Mortdecai which he's just finished filming alongside Gwyneth Paltrow. Currently he’s working on another crime flick Black Mass where he stars as real life gangster Whitey Bulger. To add to his busy schedule, Depp also has two sequels in the pipeline for Alice in Wonderland and Pirates of the Caribbean.
We know Johnny might not have seemed too much like Johnny as of late, but still the prospect of him as Houdini is pretty exciting. After all, is there really a better person to play someone as intriguing as Houdini? Call us 90s kids if you will, but Depp is still the king of the character actors as far as we're concerned.