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.
Egon Endreyi / A&E
"[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.