Part­ing Shot

Newsweek - - Contents - PART­ING SHOT

Ma­gi­cian Der­ren Brown

in fe­bru­ary, the u.k.’s most fa­mous ma­gi­cian con­vinced a group of peo­ple to com­mit mur­der. No one was killed—it was for a Net­flix spe­cial, The Push—but to view­ers un­fa­mil­iar with Der­ren Brown’s work, the idea was so dis­turb­ing they de­manded the con­tes­tants be ar­rested for at­tempted mur­der. For 18 years, Brown has bog­gled minds with jaw-drop­ping stunts—from pre­dict­ing the U.K. lot­tery to ask­ing an un­sus­pect­ing au­di­ence mem­ber to as­sas­si­nate ac­tor Stephen Fry (he sur­vived). A for­mer Chris­tian who is openly gay, he also fa­mously sub­jected him­self to con­ver­sion ther­apy (spoiler: it didn’t work). For his next trick, on his third Net­flix show, Sac­ri­fice (stream­ing on Oc­to­ber 19), the master il­lu­sion­ist will at­tempt to make prej­u­dice dis­ap­pear. A re­ac­tion to our “ag­gres­sively di­vided times,” Brown’s endgame is to re­veal trib­al­ism for what it is—mind con­trol. “We’re mov­ing to the edges in terms of what we be­lieve,” he tells Newsweek. “I think the im­por­tant point of humanity hap­pens in the di­a­logue be­tween sides. At the mo­ment, there’s not much meet­ing in the mid­dle.” What at­tracted you to magic?

It’s an ef­fi­cient road to im­press­ing peo­ple—the quick­est and most fraud­u­lent route I needed that for a bit

De­scribe what you do.

When I started the tech­ni­cal word was men­tal­ist, which ba­si­cally means a ma­gi­cian that uses mind read­ing but as I grew up, the "Hey look at me, I’m so clever" bit be­came less ap­peal­ing I fig­ured putting peo­ple through real chal­lenges and con­flicts would mane for much bet­ter drama, and I would tane a be­hind the scenes role

Would you say po­lit­i­cal lead­ers ma­nip­u­late vot­ers in the way you ma­nip­u­late your sub­jects?

It’s all sto­ries and nar­ra­tive, isn’t it" It would be lovely to live in a world where politi­cians said, "This is a very com­plex sit­u­a­tion, and there are var­i­ous op­tions We could try this, this would lead to that and it might be dif­fi­cult, so we’re just go­ing to try and do our best with some com­pas­sion Of course, that’s not how it works.

Ma­gi­cians tend to shroud them­selves in se­crecy. Are you very dif­fer­ent in pri­vate?

I’m prob­a­bly shyer than peo­ple imag­ine If I get in­vited to a glam­orous event, I prob­a­bly won’t go—that world does not ap­peal to me One in­ter­viewer said re­cently, ţoh, you’re an­noy­ingly bal­anced Ť I don’t thinn so, but I Nnow what he meant I’m not ter­ri­bly opin­ion­ated and never pre­sume to Nnow the full story —Christina Zhao

On SAC­RI­FICE, the ma­gi­cian re­veals trib­al­ism and prej­u­dice for what they are: mind con­trol.

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