#AboutLastNight: that time I got mind-hacked by Keith Barry at the ‘NOW YOU SEE ME 2’ Magic Night

Keith Barry and I at NYSM2 magic night at YouTubeSpacesLA.

Keith Barry and I at NYSM2 magic night at YouTubeSpacesLA.

Courtney Howard // Film Critic

Living in Los Angeles affords me a multitude of job perks. If it’s not getting to screen films far in advance of the other markets, it’s getting to participate in extra special in-town events cleverly designed around the concept of a particular movie. There’ve been a pop-up gas station monument unveiling (for ZOOLANDER 2) and an escape room (for MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – ROGUE NATION) or two. However, last night, courtesy of NOW YOU SEE ME 2, I was able to be a part of the magic act when Irish magician Keith Barry performed at YouTube Space LA. And guys, it was wild!

If you don’t know who he is, well, shame on you. Barry is a master mind-hacker who’s traveled the world, reading people, predicting their behavior and then blowing their minds. Take a look at a few of his celebrity reads.

I can now say I have something in common with Matthew McConaughey, Charlize Theron, Elijah Wood and Rachel Hunter.

After being Woody Harrelson’s coach on the first film, Barry became the chief magic and mentalism consultant on the sequel, working with screenwriter Ed Solomon every day for twelve months. Barry states,

It was fascinating for me to sit with somebody and talk and then see him convert that into a script. I was just throwing out ideas for magic tricks and he would have placement cards. It wasn’t about using pre-existing tricks. It was more to do with throwing ideas I knew fit the plot and structure of the movie. So I didn’t really hold anything back.

Director Jon M. Chu says of working with Barry on the set.

It was literally like being at a birthday party at all times. It was so distracting that our A.D. would get so mad at us for playing these games on the side. This is the way our set was all the time.

Barry elucidates,

We had a little bet one night with Jon. It was Woody throwing and Dave [Franco] catching [cards]. Jon bet that Woody couldn’t throw ten cards in a row and Dave catch them ten cards in a row. They did it at quite a distance apart and ten times in a row.

Chu adds,

We had a credit system going so I eventually lost a lot of money throughout the whole shoot.

And once the magic show begun last night, it was easy to see why the NOW YOU SEE ME 2 shoot felt more like play than work. After a trick that messed with our perception, I was brought up on stage because Barry saw my brain was very susceptible to hacking. Am I that easy to spot?!

Away the show went, as you’ll see below:


Pretty awesome, right?! How the heck did he do it? Those are his secrets. All I know is, it was an incredibly memorable experience.

NOW YOU SEE ME 2 is now playing.

Video asst: Magic Night video courtesy of RamaScreen.

About author

Courtney Howard

Courtney Howard is a LAFCA, CCA, OFCS and AWFJ member, as well as a Rotten Tomatometer-approved film critic. Her work has been published on Variety, She Knows and Awards Circuit.