Ben Affleck is attached to star in Disney‘s Harry Houdini movie from 10 Cloverfield Lane director Dan Trachtenberg, but not as the magician himself.
Based on William Kalush and Larry Sloman’s book The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America’s First Superhero, the project has been in development for several years, as Trachtenberg signed on when it was in the works at Lionsgate. That studio seems to have put it into turnaround, and now, somehow, Jeff Robinov of Studio 8 has stepped in and set it up at Disney, according to a new profile in the Hollywood Reporter.
Noah Oppenheim (Jackie) wrote the script about the master illusionist, who also investigated the occult and was an adventurer of sorts, so the film is expected to be about more than mere magic.
However, in a twist worthy of Houdini himself, Affleck is not expected to play the title character. According to a follow-up report from SlashFilm, Affleck has agreed to play “a supporting character who is some kind of agent” and may operate in the same circles as Houdini.
Interestingly enough, Johnny Depp was originally going to play Houdini (or so I assumed) in this same project back when Dean Parisot was attached to direct. Personally, I’d like to see Robert Downey Jr. tackle Houdini on the big screen, but Affleck is certainly an upgrade over Depp, and I was a big fan of his performance as George Reeves in Hollywoodland, so perhaps another period piece will suit him just as well.
Here’s the Amazon synopsis for The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America’s First Superhero:
Handcuff King. Escape Artist. International Superstar. Since his death eighty years ago, Harry Houdini’s life has been chronicled in books, in film, and on television. Now, in this groundbreaking biography, renowned magic expert William Kalush and bestselling writer Larry Sloman team up to find the man behind the myth. Drawing from millions of pages of research, they describe in vivid detail the passions that drove Houdini to perform ever-more-dangerous feats, his secret life as a spy, and a pernicious plot to subvert his legacy.The Secret Life of Houdini traces the arc of the master magician’s life from desperate poverty to worldwide fame — his legacy later threatened by a group of fanatical Spiritualists led by esteemed British author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Initiating the reader along the way into the arcane world of professional magic, Kalush and Sloman decode a life based on deception, providing an intimate and riveting portrayal of Houdini, the man and the legend.
Affleck recently signed on to star in George Clooney‘s next movie The Tender Bar, and you can click here for more on that Amazon project. He’s also slated to direct The Big Goodbye, which chronicles the making of Chinatown.