Adrien Brody in ‘Houdini.’ (Colin Hutton)
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Adrien Brody Is Harry Houdini in New Miniseries

Two-night television series premieres Labor Day on the History channel

Stephanie Butnick
August 29, 2014
Adrien Brody in 'Houdini.' (Colin Hutton)

The History channel is taking a break from what still really seems like nonstop World War II documentaries to air its brand new miniseries, Houdini. Taking a page from Netflix and Amazon, the channel is shaking up the airwaves with a two-part project of its own—essentially a really long movie—starring Adrien Brody as legendary magician Harry Houdini.

The film follows Houdini’s rise to fame, from performing on the Coney Island boardwalk to private audiences with Kaiser Wilhelm and Czar Nicholas II. It also features his friendship with Sherlock Holmes creator Arthur Conan Doyle.

According to the New York Post, Brody has long idolized the famous Jewish magician, and performed magic tricks himself under the stage name “The Amazing Adrien” while growing up in Queens, N.Y.

“In portraying him I gained a much deeper understanding. He was relentless,” Brody says. “What he overcame was immense. He escaped poverty, anti-Semitism and being an immigrant to becoming the most iconic performer of his time.”

Brody’s trademark brooding intensity means that the series will take on a certain air of gravitas, and it sounds like Houdini doesn’t shy away from the dark stuff. Plus, there’s magic!

Brody apparently hasn’t lost his ‘Amazing Adrien’ touch—while promoting the film at the Houdini Museum in New York City this week, Brody managed to get himself out of a pair of locked handcuffs.

The two-part series premieres Monday, September 1, at 9 p.m. on the History channel.

Stephanie Butnick is deputy editor of Tablet Magazine and a host of the Unorthodox podcast.