Woody Harrelson got the Hulk (a.k.a. Mark Ruffalo) seeing green
If you had Haymitch Abernathy and the Hulk face off, you could easily predict the clear winner. But if you gave Haymitch Professor X’s powers and got him to stay sober for a few days, the Hunger Games champion would probably have the edge.
Literally seeing green. (’Cause he's the Hulk, of course.)
Harrelson, who learned the art of mentalism for his role in the Now You See Me films, got to try out his new skills on his co-star when the two of them were in New Orleans (where part of the first film was shot). It was during dinner with Keith Barry, mentalist and hypnotism consultant on 2013’s Now You See Me, and consultant for mentalism and other magic on the sequel to the magician heist movie, which hit theaters today.
Barry trained Harrelson via Skype at first, then flew out to work with him in Los Angeles. They met at Soho House, where the Ireland-born mentalist hypnotized a large group of people.
“And then I said [to Harrelson], ‘Okay, off you go!’” Barry recalled. “He said, ‘What do you mean?’ I said, ‘You start hypnotizing people!’ As a hypnotist, you have to prepare to fail all the time, and you do fail because there’s various levels of susceptibility, as we call it. But he embraced it, and we just had an absolute blast while we were out and about.”
Woody Harrelson as Merritt McKinney in Now You See Me 2. Photo credit: Jay Maidment/Summit Entertainment
Cut to a few months later, during Now You See Me’s production in New Orleans: Harrelson had honed his skills well enough to get Ruffalo to forget the number 6 and to see everything as if through a green filter.
Barry contends that Ruffalo was genuinely hypnotized, though the actor says he was only pretending to be hypnotized. But, as Barry explained, proficient hypnotists can tell if someone is truly under hypnosis by looking for dilation of pupils and watching the carotid arteries in the neck.
“I think Mark doesn’t even know the truth himself,” Barry told me.
So I was curious: If mentalists can get people to literally see green, can they change how we see green and red, giving us the experience of different kinds of color blindness?
“Yeah, pretty much anything psychological can happen with hypnosis. So, yeah, color blindness is actually quite easy,” Barry said. “I can make myself invisible, float objects around.”
Seriously, this dude is Professor X.
[I’ll break here to warn you that there’s a SPOILER about the big reveal in the first Now You See Me film a couple paragraphs down.]
We’ll have our full video interview with Barry on HitFix next week, but I’ll share one more tidbit from our chat today: His favorite movies about magicians — aside from the Now You See Me movies of course — are The Prestige and The Illusionist (which both came out in 2006).
“Those were amazing movies,” he said. “If I was to pick a favorite between the two, I’d probably go with The Illusionist. I just think Ed Norton was amazing in it.”
Lesson learned: Hulks make good illusionists.
Okay, Eric Bana, when’s your magician movie coming out?
Now You See Me 2 opens in theaters today and also stars Jesse Eisenberg, Dave Franco, Lizzy Caplan, Daniel Radcliffe, Jay Chou, Morgan Freeman, and Michael Caine.