Eisenheim (Edward Norton) is a stage magician who amazes the audiences of turn-of-the-century Vienna, drawing the attention of Crown Prince Leopold (Rufus Sewell). When the Prince’s intended, Sophie von Teschen (Jessica Biel), assists the magician onstage, Eisenheim and Sophie recognize each other from their childhoods — and a dormant love affair is rekindled. As the clandestine romance continues, Chief Inspector Uhl (Paul Giamatti) is charged by Leopold to expose Eisenheim, and Eisenheim prepares to execute his greatest illusion yet.
Neil Burger, Steven Millhauser (short story)
Warner Bros. Pictures
Bob Yari Productions
- Edward Norton as Eisenheim
- Paul Giamatti as Inspector Uhl
- Jessica Biel as Princess Sophie
- Rufus Sewell as Crown Prince Leopold
- Eddie Marsan as Josef Fischer
When Prince Leopold is approached by Inspector Uhl, while hunting, to inform him of Eisenheim and Sophie’s meetings, the Prince asks what they were seen doing together. The line about if they were seen “fornicating” was originally filmed as him saying “fucking” instead. It was later dubbed over in order to avoid an R-Rating in compliance with the MPAA’s policy that the f-word not be used in reference to intercourse in a PG-13 film. You can however still see the Prince mouth out the original line.
Edward Norton did many of his own magic tricks, with the coaching of James Freedman. He worked with Edward Norton preparing him for his stage performances and acted as a hand double in numerous situations.
With the shoot date fast approaching and the female lead still open, director Neil Burger turned to Biel and put her through round after round of auditions. When she turned up to test-read opposite Norton, she was fully dressed in Period Piece attire that she had purchased out of pocket a few hours earlier, Edward Norton was impressed and so was the Director who eventually cast her as Sophie.
Jessica was ‘banned’ from the Gym during production. The director didn’t want her to look to buff.
Jessica Biel replaced Liv Tyler, who dropped out of the film just as filming was about to begin.
Although the film is set in Austria, it was filmed mostly in the Czech Republic.
- Academy Awards – Best Achievement in Cinematography, Dick Pope (Nominated)
- Newport Beach Film Festival – Outstanding Achievement in Filmmaking Acting, Jessica Biel (Won)
- Independent Spirit Awards – Best Screenplay, Neil Burger (Nominated)
- Jupiter Award – Best DVD Release (Won)
- New York Film Critic – Best Cinematography, Dick Pope (Won)