Adrien Brody as Houdini is simply captivating. Brody stars in History’s two-part miniseres — Houdini — airing Monday, Sept. 1 and Tuesday, Sept. 2 at 9pm ET/PT. Ehrich Weiss, the man known to the world as Harry Houdini, was one of America’s first superstars. Oscar winner Brody defies expectations yet again in this telefilm, portraying the famed escape artist and illusionist. The two-part miniseries starts via a self-narration, where Brody voices: “Fear is how I know I’m alive. Unlike other people, I don’t escape life. I escape death.”
The film takes us on a fast-paced, thrilling ride throughout Harry’s psyche, depicting everything from his humble beginnings as a young boy in Appleton, Wis., to achieving world fame and all that comes with it (including politics, espionage and hobnobbing with the world’s greatest leaders). “Houdini was a complex one, but also personal, because I idolized him growing up,” Brody tells us. “With any character, I deeply immerse myself in the research, consuming as much information as possible. There was a lifetime of things to learn, and some surprises along the way. The biggest among them was the physical pain Houdini inflicted upon himself regularly to condition himself and perform his great escapes. His ability to overcome the obstacles, his devotion to his craft, his discipline and resolve were unparalleled.”
The miniseries really delves into his psyche through narration and illustrations, giving viewers visual translations on the secrets behind the man and his magic. Brody’s performance is exquisite — he captures Houdini’s passion and matches the physical stamina required for such performances. “Houdini pushed himself beyond plausible human limits — a record for holding his breath underwater, dislocating his shoulder to escape a straitjacket and spending hours at a time confined by chains,” Brody says. “For me, the water-torture cell was the most challenging to shoot — upside-down, underwater, in a claustrophobic space. I have the utmost respect and admiration for his fearlessness and it had motivated me to push past discomfort and limitations in my own life.”
Brody said if he could perform just one of his tricks it would be Houdini’s handcuffed bridge jump. “He plunged into ice cold water, chained up and weighted down, and escaped to tell about it.”
When Brody was a child he actually had the nickname of Amazing Adrien as he dabbled in magic, which he actually credits for sparking his interest in acting. “This was my first foray into the world of performance. Magic is most alluring for children, the possibility of the impossible becoming possible because you witness it, and the vivid nature of a child’s imagination all make illusions truly magical. As I matured I sought new inspiration, and fortunately found acting. The process for an actor in the discovery if character and conveying the emotions and traits of another person convincingly is a complex illusion that effects the actor on a profound level. When we sit in the darkened room and watch that transformation we sometimes witness magic.”
When we asked Brody when he thought Houdini was most happy and how we could relate, he told us: “Houdini’s passion for his work fulfilled him greatly. His ambition, commitment and creativity were all things I could relate to. Soon after this wrapped, I launched a production company called Fable House. It was partially the inspiration I gained from considering what it took for him to get where he wanted to be that encouraged me to dive into this next phase, head first.”
And from what we’ve seen of Brody, we’re certain his next venture will be nothing short of spectacular.
Houdini airs on History Monday, Sept. 1 and Tuesday, Sept. 2 at 9pm ET/PT.