An adaptation of the Glen David Gold novel Carter Beats the Devil has stagnated in development at Warner Bros. since it was published in 2002. 24 Frames hears the studio is ready to revive the project. Johnny Depp tops the wishlist to star as Charles Carter (aka Carter the Great), a master illusionist in the 1920s: “[Carter] stages a sawed-in-half trick on President Warren G. Harding, only to be forced on the lam after Harding mysteriously dies shortly after.” The plot features other historical figures, including Harry Houdini, BMW founder Max Friz, and television pioneer Philo Farnsworth.
Depp isn’t locked in, but Carter sounds like a character that would intrigue the idiosyncratic actor. A Warner Bros. spokesperson declined to comment, but word on the street says a new draft of the script was just turned in, and the studio is reaching out to agencies to find a director. Read the book synopsis after the jump.
America in the 1920s was a nation obsessed with magic. Not just the kind performed in theaters and on stages across the country, but the magic of technology, science, and prosperity. Enter Charles Carter — a.k.a. Carter the Great — a young master performer whose skill as an illusionist exceeds even that of the great Houdini. Fueled by a passion for magic that grew out of desperation and loneliness, Carter has become a legend in his own time. His thrilling act involves outrageous stunts carried out on elaborate sets before the most demanding audiences.
But the most outrageous stunt of all stars none other than President Warren Harding and ends up nearly costing Carter the reputation he worked so hard to create. Filled with historical references that evoke the excesses and enthusiasm of postwar, pre-Depression America, Carter Beats the Devil is the complex and illuminating story of one man’s journey through a magical — and sometimes dangerous — world, where illusion is everything, and everything is illusory. [Amazon]