Johnny Depp is currently in negotiations to play the legendary magician Harry Houdini in Lionsgate's The Secret Life of Houdini. The movie is set to be directed by Dean Parisot, who has developed films such Red 2 and Galaxy Quest. He's a solid director, and this should make for a great film project for him.
Depp has had a rough go at the box office recently with The Lone Ranger and Transcendence. Neither of those films were very good either. Depp will soon be back on top with with Pirates of the Caribbean 5 and the sequel to Alice in Wonderland, both of which are sure to blow up at the box office. He's currently shooting the crime drama Black Mass. He's a crazy talented actor and I think it would be cool to see him take on the role of Houdini. If the negotiations go over well, I think he'll be great in the part.
The movie is an adaptation of a book called The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America's First Real Superhero, which was written by William Kalush and Larry Sloman.
The book dives into some interesting details about Houdini saying that he was a British spy, in cahoots with police organizations, and at one point was even asked to be an adviser to Czar Nicholas II's court in prerevolutionary Russia. The studio wants to make an action-thriller in which Houdini will be portrayed as part Indiana Jones and part Sherlock Holmes. The most recent draft of the script was written by Noah Oppenheim. I've been following the project since it was first announced, and I think it really should make for an awesome flick.
Here's the description of the book the film will be inspired by:
Using exclusive access to newly uncovered archives, Kalush and Sloman reveal the clandestine agreements in which the British and Americans recruited Houdini to be an active secret agent. In exchange for his cooperation, the governments of these two countries facilitated his rise to the top of the world stage. The authors give thrilling accounts of his assignments, such as his participation in early aerial surveillance and his use of his own magic magazine to communicate espionage-related information. After the war, Houdini embarked upon what became his most dangerous mission when he took on the Spiritualist movement. Convinced that Spiritualist mediums were frauds, he became obsessed with exposing them. But the Spiritualists were a powerful adversary. An organized network of fanatics, led by Sherlock Holmes creator Arthur Conan Doyle, worked relentlessly to orchestrate a campaign that would silence Houdini forever. Grounded in solid research, but as exciting and dramatic as a good thriller, THE SECRET LIFE OF HOUDINI traces the magician's long and circuitous route from struggling vaudevillian to worldwide legend.