Adrien Brody is to star as Harry Houdini in an upcoming TV miniseries about the legendary illusionist and escape artist. The two part miniseries 'Houdini' will air on Monday on the History channel.

Adrien Brody Harry Houdini
Adrien Brody plays legendary escapologist Harry Houdini on History Channel's mini series

Ahead of the broadcast, 41 year old Brody has spoken of his childhood idolisation of Houdini. “I remember being so impressed by him and his fearlessness and his bravery. He faced death regularly and conquered it,” he says.

The opportunity to portray him was one that he couldn’t pass up on. “In portraying him I gained a much deeper understanding. He was relentless: what he overcame was immense. He escaped poverty, anti-Semitism and being an immigrant to becoming the most iconic performer of his time.”

The project has been in the pipeline for the best part of a year. According to its director Gerald W. Abrams, while Brody’s physical appearance isn’t particularly similar to Houdini, the way in which he performed the stunts and his on-screen charm mean that the viewer can very easily look past it.

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Brody also revealed that he used to dabble with magic when he was growing up, and that this skill helped him get the drop on other actors auditioning for the part. “I did pretty advanced stuff. I worked with pyrotechnics at 11. I worked with flash paper. You make something disappear. Me breaking a pencil with a dollar bill.”

Kristen Connolly, the star of Netflix original ‘House of Cards’, will play Houdini’s wife Bess, while Evan Jones is cast as his assistant Jim Collins. Brody is most famous for his role in Roman Polanski’s classic 2002 film The Pianist, for which he won an Oscar for his portrayal of a Polish-Jewish musician who eluded the clutches of the Nazis in occupied Warsaw.

He is still the only actor under the age of 30 to ever have won the Best Male Actor award. He also starred in Wes Anderson’s unexpected hit The Grand Budapest Hotel earlier this year.