The actor performed magic and "idolized Houdini as a kid," he tells PEOPLE
Credit: Colin Hutton/A&E

As a kid, Adrien Brody adored Harry Houdini and even performed magic as “The Amazing Adrien” when he was just 11 years old.

Now, the actor, 41, is playing the title role in The History Channel’s two-night miniseries, Houdini, which premieres Monday night, and the full-circle moment is not lost on him.

“I idolized Houdini as a kid, and now I get the privilege of playing him,” Brody tells PEOPLE. “He was a big influence in my life, not only as a magician, but the magic leads to an understanding and an appreciation of acting and then a lifetime of devotion to acting – to then go back to play the man that was an inspiration. It’s just wonderful.”

But Brody says “The Amazing Adrien” wouldn’t have expected such synchronicity in his life.

“I was a skeptical little kid,” Brody says. “I couldn’t have dreamt of it.”

The Oscar winner seems to have lost some of that skepticism over the years however, saying Houdini serves as a reminder that the American dream is achievable.

“You can become so much by being passionate, enthusiastic and driven, and Houdini shows the complexity of that path,” he says.

And like Houdini, Brody has been profoundly influenced by his mother. “Her values as an artist are very pure,” he says of his mom, Sylvia Plachy, a photographer. “She’s always really done it her way, and poetically.”

“[My mother] really sees the complexity in the world and also the humor and the tragedy as well. That’s an interesting parallel to my path as an artist.”

Houdini airs Sept. 1 and 2 at 9 p.m. on The History Channel.

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