THE LAST WORD... ‘ He’s like Elvis - you see a magic show now did ’ and you are going to see stuff Houdini
WITH EVAN JONES, WHO PLAYS JIM COLLINS IN HOUDINI
“THERE is a place called the Magic Castle in Los Angeles – it’s a private clubhouse [for the Academy of Magical Arts] and you have to get an invitation from a member to visit.
It’s serious. It’s a big deal in the world of magic. And the LA one is huge in the magic world. I didn’t know that much about Houdini beforehand and so when I got the role [of Jim, Houdini’s assistant in the miniseries about the magician] I managed to get an invite to the Magic Castle and did a lot of research. It was crazy to find out what a big deal he [Houdini] is.
He started the Magicians Association. He’s kind of the rock star of magicians still.
He’s like Elvis – you go and see a magic show now and you are going to see stuff like Houdini did – at least a little bit of it. They still do some of his bigger tricks now. They might do other versions of it but Houdini kind of broke the mould in magic and nobody has changed it much since then.
I wasn’t really interested in magic until I started research and seeing shows and I realised how similar it is to acting. You have to find the dramatic tension and try to sell it (to pull off a magic trick) and it’s like, ‘Oh no, is he going to die? What’s going to happen?’ You have to really over-act it. It’s live theatre.
Adrien [Brody, who plays Houdini] did some of his own stunts for the show, including some of the water ones. I’m always kind of freaked out when we do stunt stuff. You hope they know what they’re doing and they usually do, but then when you talk to [stunt actors] you find out they’re kinda crazy, so you never really know what’s going to happen.
We were shooting in Budapest, so a lot of the people around the set didn’t speak English, so there were times I really didn’t know what was going on. The first time we put a stunt man upside down for a water torture trick the kid was like calling it quits and I’m like screaming, ‘Pull him up, pull him up’ and afterwards the head stunt guy said: ‘Just don’t scream’. It was a little nerve-wracking to watch at first.
Since I did Houdini I’ve worked on something where I was underwater and the water was up my nose and I was like, ‘Aargh … that is horrible’.
I moved to LA [from Texas] in 1995. I was going to college and I was an English major who didn’t have the discipline to sit down and write. Then I saw some actor on the cover of a magazine and said to a friend, ‘Hey I’ll do that’, as a joke. And she said, ‘You must’, and I said, ‘OK, I’ll move to LA’. And I took an acting class and I fell in love with it. I only liked three things before that – skateboarding, reading and alcohol or something. But then it was acting. It’s a crazy cool job.” HOUDINI TUESDAY, 9.15PM, SEVEN