David Kwong, the magician behind the magic in 'Now You See Me'
David Kwong, magic consultant on the film, "Now You See Me," talks about his craft, the state of magic, and why Jesse Eisenberg could never be a great magician.
Tomorrow is the big reveal for the new film "Now You See Me," featuring Jesse Eisenberg and Woody Harrelson as a troupe of bank-robbing magicians. But to pull off the illusion of being illusionists, the cast needed to recruit a bonafide magician.
David Kwong is the head magic consultant on the film, but he's also a puzzle creator, writer, and producer. Kwong sees this movie as an opportunity to evolve the public image of his craft above the spectacle of David Copperfield and street magic of David Blaine.
"I think everybody is wondering what phase of magic is next, but we try in 'Now You See Me' to make magic cool and to portray the magicians of tomorrow," said Kwong on Take Two.
Kwong stopped by Take Two to talk about his craft, and explained why Jesse Eisenberg was too honest to be a great magician.
See the trailer for "Now You See Me:"
On how he got into magic:
"I was about seven years old, and I saw a magician fool my father. My father is a biochemist, and he's kind of this omniscient figure to me. So when a magician at a pumpkin patch fooled my father with a little red sponge ball, I kind of knew I had to go into magic.
"It's a classic routine. Some magicians today still say it's one of the most powerful illusions out there. He takes the red sponge ball, he places it in your hand, and then he takes a second one, he vanishes it, and when you open up your hand you now have two red sponge balls. And he did that in my father's hand, so I was hooked from that moment on."
On how he made his career as a magician:
"I did work in Hollywood, most recently at Dreamworks Animation, in the story department. When I was trekking all these magic projects on the side, I started to realize that I could start influence the shape of those films, and I started working as a consultant with screenwriters."
Challenge of getting Jesse Eisenberg to be believable:
"Jesse Eisenberg says, as his character, that a magician is always the smartest guy in the room. As an actor and human being, Jesse Eisenberg is the smartest guy in the room. He confessed that he has trouble lying. He doesn't like deceiving people. So I would teach Jesse some tricks. I would walk away, go get a cup of coffee, and he would turn to the people next to him and say 'Here's how I do it.' I would get mad at him. He's a really wonderful actor, and he worked very hard at exhibiting these illusions, this real sleight-of-hand in his moments."
What's next for magic with both big magic shows and street shows:
"I think there is this alternative magic scene that's swelling up right now of a return to sleight-of-hand parlor shows, and we take those principles and we blow them out and we try to layer them into 'Now You See Me' to portray the magicians of tomorrow."
On his mind-blowing Scrabble trick:
"I believe that magic and puzzles are the same thing, so I am trying to create this new breed of illusion and enigmas that both challenge the audience. My entire show operates like one, giant puzzle. You'll see 10 different tricks, and each one has a little hanging piece of the puzzle. You might not realize it at the moment, but at the end they all add up to one final big reveal."