The life and escapist trickery of Harry Houdini is one of those subjects that filmmakers just love to keep going back over, most recently in the form of Guy Pearce in Death Defying Acts. And Sony has been trying to get a biopic of the man going for years now, with Francis Lawrence said to be in talks to give it a shot.
Born Erik Weisz on March 24, 1874 (odd, given the date this story will go to press on the site), he took the stage name Harry Houdini after a combination of the first name friends gave him and famed French illusionist Jean Eugene Robert-Houdin. He became well known for his magic and escapology, but also for his cinematic aspirations and mile-wide sceptical streak that saw him expose several fraudulent psychics and self-proclaimed spiritualists.
Variety reports that Lawrence is still only in the early stages and that he hasn’t yet made a deal to actually direct the film, which is currently being produced by The Other Guys’ Jimmy Miller.
While Walden Media flirted with the idea back in 2006, this is something that Sony has been itching to bring to the screen since at least the 1990s, with Paul Verhoeven considered as the man to make it happen back in the 1990s. Very little of the details from that version apparently remain in the current pitch aside from the subject matter and the period setting.