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Adrien Brody is stepping into the chains and straitjacket for History Channel’s Houdini.
The actor, who idolized Harry Houdini as a boy, recently spoke with THR about the magician, his directing ambitions and the possibility of returning to the Predator franchise.
Houdini airs over two nights, beginning Labor Day at 9 p.m.
Why were you interested in playing Houdini?
He was a real childhood hero of mine. I used to dabble in magic as a boy and had dreams of becoming a magician. It’s pretty fascinating to portray someone who had such an influence on me at an early age before I even knew anything about acting. He has reinspired me to be even more disciplined with my work.
Did you learn things about him that you didn’t know before?
He ended up being a secret agent for the U.S. government. He had the perfect alibi because he had access, he spoke foreign languages and he had a fan base abroad, as well. Also, he overcame much more than the constraints of chains. He came from an impoverished background. He was a Jewish, Eastern European immigrant, so he overcame anti-Semitism. For somebody to excel on that level, to come from such humble roots, is beyond awe-inspiring.
You had to learn a lot of Houdini’s tricks. That must have been tough.
We didn’t have an extensive period of time. I was doing shows I’d just learned within a week or two that he had spent 10 years performing.
You launched your own production company, Fable House, in May. What does that mean for your career?
It’s a chance to help cultivate films I feel very suited for, that I can help guide in a way, that don’t necessarily come down the pipeline on their own. The development aspect is really exciting for me, not just to perform as an actor but to direct and help filmmakers I admire have an opportunity to have their projects come to fruition.
Shane Black is directing a new Predator film. Would you be tempted to return to that world after starring in the 2010 movie?
I loved playing Royce. That [original] film had a big place in my heart as a teenager. I campaigned for that role. When I first signed on, there was a lot of skepticism. Then, when I went to Comic-Con, there was such love from the greatest, most hard-core fans, who thanked me for lending credibility to it and for having a new take on things. That was something I was very grateful for.
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