Interview With Thomas Baxter
(January 2013)

Canadian Thomas Baxter is a magician and illusionist who has worked on many shows and movies, and here we discuss his role as "Magic Consultant" on the 2003 Daredevil movie. Visit him online at Thought Control.

(DAREDEVIL movie screencaps courtesy of SuperheroScreenCaps.com)

Kuljit Mithra: I'm sure there are Daredevil fans who aren't familiar with you. I've caught you on TV appearances here in Canada, but I stumbled upon the fact you were the Magic Consultant on the movie from 2003. Can you give a brief bio?

Thomas Baxter: I was born and raised in Ontario, Canada and now reside in a city called Oakville, on the shores of Lake Ontario. Studied film making and psychology at York University, and began performing Magic in my teens, on cruise ships, and for parties, then corporate events, theaters, clubs, etc., in 31 countries around the world. Wrote and co-produced and performed in an hour-long CBC television special called: The Magic of Canada in the 90's; then began acting as consultant to theater (Canada's Stratford Festival for several seasons), television (shows like Goosebumps and a 50 part series for The Discovery Channel called: Grande Illusions) and films (such as Daredevil and The Santa Clause), while continuing to perform a type of psychological Illusion that I now call ThoughtControl today.

Mithra: How does one become a Magic Consultant on a superhero movie? Was the studio actively looking, or had you already worked on other films and they knew of you?

Baxter: The studio was actively looking for a Magic Consultant to teach Colin Farrell (Bullseye in the film) to do various magic-type things for the film. They asked around and my name came up, I suppose because of other films I had done and my own expertise with sleight of hand. One of the producers contacted me directly and I sent them a video of some of the things I suggested for the film. They called back and engaged my services for the film. Unfortunately, because it was an American film and I was not a Screen Actors Guild member, I was not allowed an on-screen credit.

Mithra: For the DD movie, were you closely working with Colin Farrell? The main magic trick he does is his card trick used to attack Elektra (Jennifer Garner), but I can't seem to remember other "magic" per se. How was he as a student?


Baxter: He also performed a pencil-spin flourish and a magical change of a paper clip into a straightened, weaponized throwing dart. He was a delightful fellow to work with, always enthusiastic about learning new effects. In fact, he learned several more effects than actually got on film. He told me he was having great fun with his chums, performing tricks in bars after the shooting day had ended.

Also taught him to bite a coin in half and restore it, but he uses that to fool his friends. Wasn't in the film.

We rehearsed in a variety of places -- his movie trailer, on set, and in a number of hotel rooms.

Mithra: As consultant, are you teaching the magic, or making sure it is being done correctly?

Baxter: My job was to come up with a number of possible effects for the film, teach them to Colin and then make sure he could do them correctly. He was incredibly busy at the time, filming several movies all around the same time, so it was a challenge for him to find practise time, as I recall.

Mithra: Do you find actors are receptive to your help?

Baxter: In my experience, actors are always enthusiastic about learning magic. It's a skill that they can add to their personal arsenal that may come in handy for future acting jobs, so they can add "slight of hand" to their resume. Plus it's different and exciting for them to see the inner workings of illusions.

Mithra: How much time did you spend on set? Were you dealing more with the actors or the director/producers?

Baxter: I spent a few days on set, working almost exclusively with Colin.

Mithra: What did you think of the whole filmmaking process for Daredevil?


Baxter: Film-making is a matter of hurry up and wait. There are intense periods of activity where everything needs to be ready and working for a shot, which is over in minutes; and then there are hours of waiting for the next shot to be set up. My job was mostly done in the off-hours, teaching Colin and helping him to rehearse.

Mithra: Was this one of the bigger productions who have ever been involved with?

Baxter: Film-wise it would be Daredevil. On stage I worked with The National Ballet of Canada, creating illusions and training the dancers in magic for their multi-million dollar production of The Nutcracker, which was enormously successful, both critically and commercially. At Stratford I worked with the famous (and now deceased) writer Robertson Davies to bring his book WORLD OF WONDERS to life on the stage. It involved months of designing illusions, training and rehearsing actors, working with costumers and special-effects people. It truly was a legendary piece of work.

Mithra: What did you think of the movie?

Baxter: I was a big Daredevil fan when I was a kid, so it was a thrill for me to be involved with the movie. When I first read the script I wondered if the film makers would be able to realize the vision that they had laid out. In the end I thought that they did a wonderful job, aided by some excellent acting by Colin, Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner.

Mithra: And last question, when I got in touch with you, you said you had just returned from a trip... are you constantly touring, and where are you off to next?

Baxter: Yes, travelling several months of the year. Next off to England, where I'm just in the beginning stages of a screenplay involving the early days of The Beatles (another childhood fantasy realized!).

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(c) 2013 Kuljit Mithra & Thomas Baxter
Daredevil:The Man Without Fear
http://www.manwithoutfear.com
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