Johnny Depp Once Again Interested in Playing Houdini in Adventure Film

By May 27, 2014

Johnny Depp altered his career path a few years ago, and while he was once considered a strong, respected dramatic actor, he’s now probably best known for making weird faces, wearing ludicrous hats, and basically playing a variation on Captain Jack Sparrow every time he stars in a movie now. He’s (hopefully) going to break that streak with Black Mass, the biopic of gangster Whitey Bulger that’s filming now, but with Pirates 5 on the horizon and Depp already signed to Alice in Wonderland: Through the Looking Glass, it won’t be long before he’s falling back into old habits.

For a long time, Depp was supposedly interested in playing Harry Houdini in an adaptation of “The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America’s First Superhero,” a book that gave the world’s most famous illusionist the title of “master spy,” as well. Naturally. The project fell away for a while, but now it’s apparently back in contention as one of Depp’s next projects, and THR reports that Depp shoots Through the Looking Glass after finishing up Black Mass, but it’s up in the air at this point whether or not this Houdini project or Pirates 5 will be slotted in next.


Noah Oppenheim (the upcoming The Maze Runner) wrote the script, which is reportedly in the vein of Indiana Jones and will see Houdini “not just a master escape artist but an investigator of the world of the occult.” Wonder if that “master spy” business we once heard about has been replaced by occult investigations, or if he’ll have all of those qualities in one. Either way, Depp has plenty of experience playing both kinds of roles.

Dean Parisot will direct, and this guy is a bit of a mystery to me. He’s helmed some pretty mediocre stuff (Red 2, Fun with Dick and Jane, “Modern Family,” etc.) but he also directed Galaxy Quest, which is one of the best sci-fi parodies ever made. Will he stop Depp from going “full Depp” and turning Houdini into a caricature? Or will he be able to reign in one of the world’s biggest stars and save him from his own worst tendencies? Time will tell, but production could start as soon as this November, so we probably won’t have long to wait before we find out.

The following two tabs change content below.
Ben is a writer living in Los Angeles, California. His work has been featured at,,,, and many more sites across the web. Some of his favorite movies include The Rocketeer, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Tombstone, Lucky Number Slevin, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Collateral, Double Indemnity, Back to the Future and The Prestige. Follow him on Twitter: @BenPears.