Despite boasting one of the starriest casts this side of Ocean's 11, it's fair to say that Now You See Me was the surprise sleeper hit of 2013. Films about magic had traditionally not performed very well at the box office.
Yet the film became a hit and with the sequel Now You See Me 2 currently performing well, we could be looking at a franchise. A lot of Irish audiences might not be aware that our own Keith Barry is one of the masterminds behind the series. He graduated from being an advisor to Woody Harrelson on the original to being the Chief Magic Consultant for Now You See Me 2. We caught up with Barry ahead of the film's release in Ireland and he shared a few tidbits from behind the scenes of the movie.
1. He was involved in the project from day one.
Keith worked on the original movie as a hypnotist consultant for Woody Harrelson, helping him act and move like a real life mentalist but was involved with the sequel before there was even a script.
"Day 1 I started working with Ed Solomon when there was no script, just throwing lots of ideas around and literally just jamming out ideas with him for the movie. So then I suppose it was a natural progression from there for them to ask me to be on set because I came up with most of the magic and mentalism and hypnotism in the movie. So I went on set for all four months with the actors every day. So pretty much everything across the board for Now You See Me 2 I was involved in."
2. The hardest trick to pull off involved Lizzy Caplan and a guillotine.
There are some great magic set pieces in the movie, including a long sequence involving The Four Horsemen trying to hide a playing card from a team of security guards in a vault, but the hardest trick for Barry involved Lizzy Caplan's memorable intro.
"There was one moment that seems like a real simple moment in the movie but it took me three months to develop from concept to what you see in the movie and it's Lizzy Caplan getting her head chopped off. People on set almost vomited when they saw it because we filmed it with no CGI and no doubles and no fake heads. That was a standout moment for me in the movie."
3. The cast are just as likeable in real life as you'd expect them to be.
Morgan Freeman, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Lizzy Caplan, Dave Franco, Michael Caine and Daniel Radcliffe. Casts don't get much starrier or likeable than that. Even the villains (Caine and Radcliffe) are extremely likeable. Surely they can't all be as great in real life as they are on screen?
"What's great is I don't have to lie about how great they all were. They were all great. Off set we were all doing magic all day long. Just messing around. Playing pranks on each other. I mean, I'm very appreciative of the fact that even though I'm production staff if you like, on the movie, they treated me like talent. So I was like the fifth horseman. Which was very nice."
4. The most exciting part for Keith was meeting Morgan Freeman....who even challenged him to hack into his brain.
Barry was a big admirer of the whole cast before meeting them in a professional capacity, but as a massive The Shawshank Redemption fan, meeting Morgan Freeman was always going to be the highlight for him.
"The standout moment for me was meeting Morgan Freeman. I've been a fan of his for years and I didn't get to see him on Now You See Me. Which broke my heart a little bit so to finally meet him on the set of Now You See Me 2 was amazing. He challenged me to break into his brain which kind of made me a bit nervous."
5. Keith had to assemble a whole team of magicians to consult on set during production.
Keith had to assemble his own version of The Four Horsemen for the movie in order to help the cast prepare for their various different specialties.
"Andrei Jikh and Blake Vogt and they worked with me for the card sequence. Andrei Jikh's speciality if you like is card spinning and card throwing. So for some of the more intricate moments in the sequence, like bouncing a card off of the security guard's backs, I wouldn't be able to do that. I can spin cards and throw cards but I'm not at that level. So Andrei came in and did that. And then Blake is like a little like Q in James Bond. He could take these three cards and just make the most amazing trick/gimmick with three cards, a bit of duct tape and couple of things. He's like a ninja."
Now You See Me 2 is in Irish cinemas nationwide from July 4th.