What scares Erik Weisz—better known as escape artist extraordinaire Harry Houdini? A lot of things, according to this promo for History’s upcoming bio-miniseries: drowning, heights, crowds. Even so, it’s clear that the father of modern stage magic doesn’t let dread get the best of him: “Some fears you face head-on,” he says in the following exclusive video, thoughtfully waving a pair of handcuffs. “Some you take to your grave.”
It’s all very spooky and atmospheric—doubly so because Houdini is played by Academy Award winner Adrien Brody, who always looks at least slightly haunted. (Just don’t expect to see any “real” ghosts in the series. First of all, let’s remember that it’s airing on the History channel. Secondly, despite his magical reputation, Houdini was a proud skeptic who devoted a good portion of his time to debunking the claims of self-proclaimed psychics and mediums.)
This two-night event may be the only place for illusion enthusiasts to get their fill of Houdini for the time being, even though he’s something of a hot property; last December, Hugh Jackman announced that he was dropping out of a long-planned Broadway musical about the magician, written by Stephen Schwartz and David Ives. At least two feature-length Houdini films are also currently in development—one a Sony biopic with “an HP Lovecraft influence” to be directed by Max Landis, the other a Summit thriller that “paints a picture of Houdini as a master spy.” (There’s also a family film called Houdini currently in pre-production; that one’s about “a young magician trying to save his family’s animal rescue shelter with the help of a famous escape artist dog on the run from kidnappers.”)
History’s Houdini premieres Sept. 1 at 9 p.m. ET.