Thankfully, David Blaine: Real or Magic, the latest TV special from the magician and endurance artist, stayed away from entombing, freezing, or electrocuting Blaine in favor of letting him show off his impressive magic skills. Some of Blaine’s audiences were impromptu street crowds, but many were celebrities: their presence both demonstrates the circles he travels in and serves as implicit validation that what we’re seeing isn’t the product of camera trickery — surely Lenny Kravitz and Will Arnett have better things to do with their time than serve as David Blaine’s stooges? The parade of stars is one of the best things about the special: they made it feel like a variety show where famous people come on to demonstrate their talent at gaping wide-eyed.
Without spoiling the impressive feats Blaine pulled off with decks of cards and ice picks, we ranked the entertainment value of twenty of the celebrities who appeared in Real or Magic, from lowest to highest. Who responds to Blaine’s tricks with genuine shock or spontaneous wit?
Had the attitude of a man with a plane to catch before his novelty hit falls off the charts.
19. Stephen Hawking
Of all the disadvantages that come with his motor neuron disease, the inability to be expressive in response to a David Blaine card trick probably doesn’t rank high on his list.
18. George W. Bush
The former president seemed a little too excited about participating, like a tourist hitting a comedy club for the first time.
Needed to work on his groaning and wincing.
16. Kanye West
You can tell he’s impressed, because for once in his life, he’s not saying much. But it wasn’t much fun to watch him sit and look uncomfortable.
15. Emmy Rossum
A great loud laugh. “That is ridiculous.”
14. Jason Sudeikis
Extra credit for his mustache, and for carrying a Sharpie in his pocket.
13. Olivia Wilde
Standing next to her fiancé Sudeikis, sometimes wearing a bikini top, she had a constant air of delighted amazement.
12. Jamie Foxx
Had a charming rapport with his daughter, Corinne Bishop.
11. Robert DeNiro
Looked more bored than he did in Little Fockers, but got off a good line after Blaine demonstrates fire-breathing: “You want an Alka-Seltzer?”
10. Woody Harrelson
Seemed genuinely worried: “Man, I lost my erection entirely.”
9. Jaden Smith
He covered his mouth and hopped up and down. “I’m trying to think how that’s physically possible.”
8. Katy Perry
She started off snarky, but ended up flabbergasted, asking Blaine about a trick, “Do people ever cry sometimes because it’s so strange?”
7. Will Smith
Walked the tightrope between being amazed and being cool.
6. Harrison Ford
He looked like your grandfather, about to have a cardiac episode. “Get the fuck out of my house, okay?”
5. Woody Allen
So disturbed by Blaine, he had to avert his eyes. But afterwards, he made the magician a malted!
4. Jada Pinkett Smith
Her jaw dropped so low you thought she was going to dislocate it.
3. Jon Stewart
He started off confrontational — “Is this just a chance to throw cards at my balls?” — and ended up with his mind obviously blown.
2. Aaron Paul
The most enthusiastic person in the whole special. “That’s the craziest thing I’ve seen in my entire life, obviously.”
1. Ricky Gervais
Once his jaded veneer cracked, there was a gooey center of astonishment: “It’s one of the best illusions I’ve ever seen, or you’re a maniac. Either way, well done.”