Benedict Cumberbatch Will Play a Nazi-Fighting Illusionist in The War Magician

Illustration for article titled Benedict Cumberbatch Will Play a Nazi-Fighting Illusionist in The War Magician

You thought every war story had already been told? Apparently not. In the new thriller The War Magician, Benedict Cumberbatch will play Jasper Maskelyne, a real-life British magician who used his talents to help the allies during World War II.


As Deadline reports, Tom Cruise was once interested in a Maskelyne biopic, but this vintage film of Maskelyne in action—suavely swallowing an entire package of razor blades—suggests Cumberbatch is probably a much better fit for the role. (And that’s without even considering his upcoming turn as Doctor Strange.)

Here’s what Deadline says about The War Magician, which is based on the book by David Fisher:

Maskelyne put together a dirty dozen-type coterie of illusionists called The Magic Gang. Among other stunts, they created fake tanks and soldiers to give the illusion of troop movement to Nazi spy planes overhead. They used mirrors to shield machine gun nests, disguised tanks as supply trucks, and even managed to create illusions that concealed sites like the Alexandria harbor and Suez Canal, to keep Luftwaffe bombers from blowing them up. Maskelyne’s stunts vexed Gen.Rommel and his unstoppable forces in North Africa and gave the Brits a fighting chance using what the master magician termed “the mass production of tricks, swindles and devices.”

No director has been announced yet, but the script is being written by Gary Whitta, who wrote The Book of Eli and collaborated on the screenplay for After Earth with M. Night Shyamalan.

Top image: Benedict Cumberbatch at a premiere for Black Mass, Oct. 11, 2015. (Photo by Grant Pollard/Invision/AP)


Howard the Duck

Cool. Dr. Strange vs. the Nazis.