By REED TUCKER
'Magicians, just a general note," actor Mark Ruffalo says, "don't get laid."
Indeed they don't. With the possible exception of ventriloquists and mimes, magicians tend to reside at the very bottom of the entertainment pyramid when it comes to cool factor. David Copperfield might be the exception - we're guessing Claudia Schiffer dated him less for what he could pull out of a hat and more for what he could pull out of his wallet.
The new movie "Now You See Me," out Friday, is looking to change all that. It hopes to make magic hip.
"Sometimes people associate magicians with that guy who shows up at kids' birthday parties and waves his arms around," says producer Bobby Cohen. "This is definitely not that."
The story revolves around four expert practitioners of different disciplines - a mentalist (Woody Harrelson), a sleight-of-hand artist (Jesse Eisenberg), an escapist (Isla Fisher) and a street magician (Dave Franco) - joining forces to pull off an incredible stunt: the robbing of a Paris bank live from the stage of their Las Vegas show.
When it's discovered that the stunt is no illusion and that the money is actually missing, a pair of cops (Ruffalo and Mlanie Laurent) attempt to bust the slippery foursome.
One of the ways that director Louis Leterrier and the filmmakers hoped to make the magic seem cooler was by having the cast perform as many of the tricks as possible in the movie.
David Kwong, a stage performer who founded a magic-focused Hollywood consulting company Misdirectors' Guild, worked on the film's tricks and helped train the cast.
"My character is supposed to have practiced for 25 years, eight hours a day - these flicks of the finger or micro-moves - and I only had a few days to practice," Eisenberg says. "David worked with me every day before production started and during the movie."
The actor learned basic moves such as palming objects, and more complex maneuvers using playing cards.
"In the opening scene of the movie, my character is on a street corner in Chicago and he asks a group of people to remember one card at random as he flips through the deck," Eisenberg says. "The card they remember is the seven of diamonds. My character throws the deck in the air and the seven of diamonds appears in a huge light effect on the side of the Sears Tower. That's a possible trick to do. It's called 'forcing a card.' You're forcing the audience to see the card that you've pre-selected. David and I spent days and days and days doing that."
When the audience first meets Isla Fisher's character, she's being chained and dropped into a tank of water. Kwong taught her how to hold her breath for long periods of time.
"She had to practice and practice," Kwong says. "During the shooting of it, we wanted her to go 30 seconds underwater, and I think she went well over two minutes."
Impressive, but Kwong says Franco was his best student. The actor worked tirelessly on learning to throw playing cards - a skill he uses in a scene the filmmakers dubbed "sleight-of-hand combat," in which Franco's character uses magic techniques to outwit Ruffalo in a fistfight.
"Our first day of rehearsal wasn't us dissecting the script, it was me in a room throwing cards and trying to cut a banana in half," Franco says.
He eventually got so good he could slice cast members.
"You can generally hurt people with these cards," Franco says.
"I sliced one of the stunt coordinator's cheeks open."
He also nicked Ruffalo's face during the fight scene.
"After 10 takes of me throwing cards at his face, he was a little over it," Franco says.
Harrelson, who trained with Irish mentalist Keith Barry, also enjoyed learning his character's craft.
"On the streets of New Orleans, we'd go out and he'd pull random people off the street," Kwong says. "He'd say, 'This is a role I'm rehearsing for. I'd like to try this on you.' He tried to put them in a trance. It worked."
Rumor has it Harrelson also hypnotized Ruffalo one night and made the actor forget the number three existed.
Eisenberg is skeptical of his co-star's mentalist abilities.
"He's a famous guy, which is helpful, so people are predisposed to him telling them what to do," Eisenberg says. "He didn't try anything on me, because I've known him for years and am no longer impressed."
And lest you think the premise of "Now You See Me" - originally called "Poof!" at the script stage - is completely far-fetched, it might not be.
Last year, a local magician and escapist named Robert J. Williams was arrested after he allegedly robbed 11 banks in New York City, netting him $14,000. He supposedly walked right past the police just after the crime by ducking into a hidden spot and using quick- change techniques to don a disguise.
Originally published by and REED TUCKER.
(c) 2013 The New York Post. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.
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