NEW YORK, July 27 (UPI) -- Oscar-winning filmmaker Woody Allen says his latest romantic comedy Magic in the Moonlight was inspired by one of his lifelong passions -- the art of illusion.
In the movie, Colin Firth plays a 1920s-era, English stage magician who goes to the French Riviera with the intention of proving a beautiful young spiritualist a fraud before she exploits a wealthy family. Emma Stone plays the medium in question.
"Magic has always been a great interest of mine," Allen said at a recent Manhattan press conference.
"I was an amateur magician when I was young and I used to practice a lot and read up on it a lot and, so, I'm well aware of the history of magic and, in reading on it, during the teenage years and into the 1920s, there was an enormous amount of great vogue in fraudulent spiritualism in the United States and abroad, as well. And there were a lot of people exploiting the public with séances and with fake mind-reading and predicting the future and they were very good at it and they were able to fool the general public, of course, and they were able to fool educated people and intellectuals and they were able to fool scientists and doctors. But they could not fool magicians because what they were doing -- the tricks they were using -- were known to magicians," the 78-year-old native New Yorker explained.
"And, so, a number of magicians -- among them Harry Houdini was the most renowned -- used to debunk them. They took great pleasure in exposing them because they were fraudulently deceiving the public and stealing money from them. So, that's what led me to the idea and I thought it would make an interesting romance between a fraudulent little mystic and a magician who had a much more sober view of the world. Houdini, as a matter of fact, had a very hopeful, but grim, realistic view of the world."
Co-starring Jacki Weaver, Marcia Gay Harden and Eileen Atkins, Magic in the Moonlight is in theaters now.