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Daily Israel Report

Johnny Depp to Play Jewish 'Superhero' Harry Houdini?

Hollywood star of Pirates of the Caribbean fame negotiating to play Houdini, the son of a rabbi and 'America's First Superhero.'
By Ari Yashar
First Publish: 5/28/2014, 1:44 PM

Harry Houdini the 'Superhero'
Harry Houdini the 'Superhero'
Thinkstock

Hollywood star Johnny Depp is reportedly in negotiations to star as the iconic Jewish escape artist Harry Houdini, in a film entitled "The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America's First Superhero."

The Hollywood Reporter revealed the negotiations exclusively on Tuesday, noting that the movie is said to be similar in tone to the famous Indiana Jones series.

The movie, based on the 2007 biography of Houdini by William Kalush and Larry Sloman, pictures Houdini not just as a master escape artist, but as an investigator of the world of the occult.

Lionsgate films is reportedly planning to start production in November, which would push back production on the fifth film in Depp's famed Pirates of the Caribean series. Dean Parisot is to direct the movie.

Houdini was born in 1874 in Budapest, Hungary, as Ehrich Weisz. He was one of six children born to Rabbi Mayer Weisz and his wife Cecilia Steiner. In 1876, Rabbi Weisz immigrated to the US, found work as a communal rabbi and changed his last name to Weiss. Later in the year the rest of the family joined him there.

Along Houdini's rise to fame, he gained renown for his ability to escape police handcuffs and jails numerous times, receiving certificates from various wardens for escaping their prisons.

The pinnacle of his career was the Chinese Water Torture Cell act, introduced in 1912. In it he was suspended by his feet upside-down in a locked glass cell filled with water, which required him to hold his breath over three minutes while escaping the locked box.

Houdini became interested in the occult and debunking fake psychics in the 1920s. He recorded his investigations in a book entitled "A Magician Among the Spirits."

The magician died on Halloween 1926, at the age of 52 from a ruptured appendix after being punched repeatedly (with permission) to test his will.