This Labor Day, the History Channel presents Houdini, a miniseries about the renowned magician. SheKnows spoke exclusively with Kristen Connolly, who plays the woman behind the magic.
There’s always more to the story than what the history books tell us, and Connolly promises that the series will shed new light on the marriage of Harry (played by the remarkable Adrian Brody) and Bess Houdini.
“I think that they had kind of an amazing love story,” Connolly revealed. “Their relationship was really sort of phenomenal. They were together until he died. They never had children, so it was really the two of them as partners.”
Harry may have been the one standing at center stage and wowing audiences, but according to Connolly, Bess was the one who made sure things went well behind the scenes. Apparently Harry didn’t care about things like changing his clothes every day or looking presentable.
“She was there to make sure his shirt was tucked in and he was looking presentable and clean,” Connolly said of Bess. “All of these things are really sweet and important in day-to-day lives, that don’t necessarily make the history [books].”
Harry and Bess’ love was something that survived beyond their years, thanks to the written word and accounts from friends. “It was really interesting to read about the partnership they had and the way they spoke about each other in letters and to other people,” Connolly said. “It gives you an idea of how much love there was between them.”
Connolly admitted, though, that it wasn’t easy to find information on her character. “It’s a little bit harder to find information on just Bess,” she said. “There are tons of biographies on Houdini, but there’s not one biography that’s just Bess.” However, Connolly added, “Once you get going, you can find really fascinating stories about her.”
One piece of information that will be shown in the movie is the fact that Bess apparently liked to smoke marijuana. “There is a lot of evidence that suggests she did smoke weed. [But] it’s not one of these sorts of dramatic things,” Connolly said about that part of the story, adding, “It’s definitely not a cautionary tale.”
But though she did take the occasional toke to calm her nerves, Bess was also a prim and proper girl. “She was certainly modest,” Connolly shared. “She always wore stockings when she performed. She refused to have bare legs, even though Harry actually wanted her to.”
Those who aren’t into magic may be wondering what’s in the miniseries for them. Connolly promises there’s much more to the story than just parlor tricks. “I think it’s about more than just magic tricks,” she said. “It’s a story about people who make something out of nothing and make themselves from nothing. It’s [about] people who brought an enormous amount of wonder and joy, one person in particular, who brought this thrill to people all over the world and captivated the world in a time before television, before the internet, before Twitter, before anything.”
Between the romance and the mystery of Houdini’s magic, it sounds like the miniseries will be a lot of fun to watch. Be sure to check out Houdini when it begins airing on Labor Day, Sept. 1, at 10 p.m. on the History Channel.