You may not know Todd Schneider’s name, but he appears in five films that have played local theaters in the past month — as a stunt man. The graduate of Waitsfield’s Green Mountain Valley School and UVM has taken (premeditated) tumbles on the sets of everything from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” to The Soloist since starting his Hollywood career in 1999. In the blockbuster adaptation of Dan Brown’s Angels & Demons, Schneider, 40, was Ewan McGregor’s stunt double — and got to show his face on screen as a Roman carabiniero.
Schneider, whose dad, stepmother and in-laws still live in the Burlington area, was captain of UVM’s 1994 NCAA Championship Ski Team. In L.A., he trained with George Clooney’s stunt double, a fellow ski racer, and the film jobs followed. In Live Free or Die Hard, Schneider took a series of terrifying plunges on a safety wire, but he’s especially happy about the time his 3-year-old son got to see him dressed as Spidey for Spider-Man 3.
For Angels & Demons, on which he also served as assistant stunt coordinator, Schneider stood in for a character who miraculously escapes an exploding helicopter. What appears to happen in midair was actually shot on a stage: “You’re 20 to 30 feet up on a parachute rig; the camera’s moving around; you’re getting yanked back and forth,” says Schneider. The high altitude was added with green-screen technology.