Though Johnny Depp is currently deep in production on a film about famed crime boss Whitey Bulger, Black Mass, he may soon be adding another historical figure to his resume. THR reports that the actor is negotiations to take on the title role in Lionsgate/Summit’s long-gestating adaptation of authors William Kalush and Larry Sloman’s book The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America’s First Superhero. The project has been in the works for years and paints the famous magician as an Indiana Jones-type who, while not performing feats of escape, spends his time investigating the world of the occult. Hit the jump for more, including clarity on Depp’s upcoming slate.
Per THR, Depp is in talks to play Harry Houdini in The Secret Life of Houdini, which has Galaxy Quest and Red 2 helmer Dean Parisot onboard to direct. Lionsgate/Summit has been developing the film for years, and at one point it was poised to be Gary Ross’ first post-Hunger Games project. That iteration of the adaptation faded, and now Parisot is set to bring the pic to fruition with a screenplay by Noah Oppenheim as producers (including Frank Marshall) are eyeing a November 2014 start-date.
Depp is coming off a string of box office disappointments with Dark Shadows, The Lone Ranger, and most recently the snoozy sci-fi pic Transcendence. He recently wrapped director David Koepp’s action comedy Mortdecai and appears in this December’s musical Into the Woods, and his upcoming slate puts the actor back into a number of colorful roles. He will next shoot the Alice in Wonderland sequel Through the Looking Glass for Disney, and then will move on to either Houdini or Pirates of the Caribbean 5.
Though Pirates 5 had been moving full-steam ahead after Kon-Tiki directors Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg were tapped to take the helm, filming was pushed back to do further work on the script. A 2016 release date is being eyed for the Pirates sequel, but if Houdini goes first for Depp, that would push production on Pirates 5 back to early 2015. Lionsgate/Summit is hoping to start filming Houdini in November, and if that happens, expect Pirates 5 to be delayed yet again.