Former Newtown Resident Now A Stuntman In Action-Packed ‘Morbius’
Southbury resident Andrew James Bleidner, 25, grew up in Newtown before becoming the budding model, actor, and stuntman he is today. His latest role has him performing as a stunt double for actor Jared Leto in the movie Morbius, which was released in theaters on April 1.
During Bleidner’s time in Newtown, he was active in the community playing soccer, making lifelong friends, and attending St Rose of Lima School with his sister, Genevieve.
It was at St Rose where he first had the opportunity to feel the rush of performing. At age 4, he was cast as an owl in the school’s adaptation of The Wizard of Oz.
“I went into school very young and didn’t want to talk very much, but … I took over the stage — hooting up a storm — as a character that didn’t even exist in The Wizard of Oz,” Bleidner reminisced.
The transformative power that the arts had on him sparked his passion for acting, which continued to grow through his formative years.
“Growing up I was a bit of an underdog when it came to acting. I never really had a lead role,” he said. “It took me a while to kind of gain the personal integrity and courage to branch out and try to let go. It took me a while.”
Each experience, though, was an opportunity for him to acquire more insight on his craft.
“I had a very blessed opportunity to be around artists, entertainers, and all sorts of people who were passionate about art. I took so much from them, so really it wasn’t something I created on my own. It was something that I observed, and I had the opportunity to learn and grow into,” Bleidner said.
With acting and the arts, he finds that it is best to go into each scenario with an openness to learn and an adaptive nature as if he is a blank slate each time.
“You start off with this empty palette, and if you try painting over something that is already fixed and set, you are going to have a harder time. So, it took me a while to try to really clear that palette and treat each character like an Etch-A-Sketch. You’ve got to shake it and then repeat. Find something real and the authenticity in the dialogue,” Bleidner said.
Not only did he put in the work to better himself, but he also had the unwavering support of his family to help motivate him along the way to continue pursuing his goals.
“Thankfully, my mother, my grandfather, my father, and my sister all encouraged me and made me stick with it. My grandfather would actually say, ‘Andrew, stick with it,’” Bleidner shared.
His career began to move to new levels when he was about 15, he said, and he would travel with his mother for casting opportunities.
“I went down south and tried picking up some parts there. I went to an open call and ended up getting a callback, and another callback. I was like, ‘Wow is this really happening for me?’ I didn’t think I had what it took. It took me years later to realize you have it as long as you think you have it. I just kept trying and eventually I got opportunities,” Bleidner said.
During that time, he worked on productions that director Steven Spielberg was associated with and got to shadow some of his directors of photography. He also learned from accomplished actors, including Octavia Spencer.
Over the last decade, Bleidner has amassed numerous credits in film, television, theater, and modeling.
According to his manager, CJ Burdo, Bleidner is an official SAG-AFTRA actor, has done work as an off-Broadway theater director, and has walked the New York Fashion Week runway as a model representing multiple high-end designers.
While he dabbles in many areas of entertainment, acting has a leading role in his life.
“I’m an actor for a living,” Bleidner said. “I still don’t know what I want to do when I grow up. I play pretend on everything. One year I might be a soldier; another year I might be a vampire; and another year I might be a doctor. It’s a beautiful mystery. I feel really honored to even have these opportunities.”
In the 2015 film Man Down, starring Shia LaBeouf, Bleidner portrayed Marine Shia Platoon who was going through basic training.
Then, in the 2018 FOX television documentary series Legends & Lies, he played a Civil War colonel named Robert Gould Shaw.
“That was a great honor to play someone from history and try to give it as much humanity as I can for an actual individual,” Bleidner said.
It was during that project that he got to meet the actor Matthew Broderick and have a memorable conversation with him.
“He took a look at some of my takes, and he said — ‘it’s funny because I’m always supposed to look like I’m getting hurt in films — You did it well. You died well.’ I said, ‘It’s nice to hear that from you. I’ve looked up to you for a while,’” Bleidner recalled.
Another standout role for Bleidner was when he was cast in the 2019 movie The Day Shall Come, which starred Anna Kendrick. He played a member of the Hostage Rescue Team (HRT). For that project he traveled to the Dominican Republic and got to enjoy filming on location.
The most recent project he performed in was the Sony/Marvel action film Morbius, released in theaters on April 1. In the film, he was a stunt double for star Jared Leto.
“I actually had no idea what I was going to be working on until I got there and they fit me in the cape. Sony/Marvel are very secretive when it comes to their work and for good reason. They make some amazing productions,” Bleidner said.
While he cannot reveal too much about what he did in the movie, due to nondisclosure agreements, he can speak to the impact it had on him.
“I can say that being able to work with Gary Powell, the stunt coordinator on that, was a huge, huge honor to me,” he said.
Powell is an award-winning stunt coordinator who has a vast list of projects he has been a part of including, but not limited to, Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, Skyfall, and Spectre.
Bleidner can also divulge where his scenes were filmed.
“I shot my scenes in New York. There is a whole team of stunt performers out there. There are other things that they did across the pond … I’m just one small piece, but feel fortunate for me to be a part of it,” Bleidner said.
In general, he shared that a lot goes into stunt work, mentally and physically, to be able to accomplish each task at hand.
“You have to train and have good discipline. You have to know how to fall, obviously. It is a lot of falling. You have to be able to be safe and show your ability to be professional on set. They take their jobs very seriously. No one wants any mishaps. It’s also a very close-knit industry,” Bleidner noted.
He finds that his life experience of riding horses and motorcycles, as well as having a background doing sports and martial arts, has helped him greatly at work. That and following his instincts.
“They always look out for you on the set you are on, but I can’t stress enough — and I think every other stunt performer would agree with me — you always have to check all of your gear and check yourself that you are in the right mindset,” he said. “Don’t approach anything if you are not ready.”
The next opportunity for the public to see Bleidner will be in the American crime thriller film The Good Nurse, which is anticipated to be released this summer. It was directed by Tobias Lindholm, written by Krysty Wilson-Cairns, and is based on the 2013 book of the same name by Charles Graeber.
“I shot that with Eddie Redmayne and Jessica Chastain. We did that in Connecticut. It’s based off the novel about a serial killer who was euthanizing patients. It’s pretty dark, but it is a thriller and really interesting. Playing alongside Eddie Redmayne in that was a huge honor,” Bleidner said.
Bleidner is currently portraying the role of Jay in Two Lane Blacktop, an action thriller film produced by Robert Latham Brown (Star Wars: Return of the Jedi) and Eric Fellner (Les Misérables).
He is also going to be in a Broadway production with Robert Clohessy, from Blue Bloods and Boardwalk Empire, called Welcome Home, Johnny, based on a Vietnam veteran returning home.
Having been so many places, and with a future packed with more roles, he is quick to remember where he came from and the people who have helped him along the way. In conversation with The Newtown Bee he specifically cited his appreciation for his Newtown friend Eric Sippin; Monsignor Robert Weiss, pastor of St Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church; and his first grade teacher at St Rose School, Lillian Hauser.
“I’m grateful for Newtown. I’m grateful for the people who helped me out there and for the friendships I was able to keep,” Bleidner said. “I think that in small communities, we need to keep the community aspect about it and remember that it’s not that hard to help other people out … there are great people out there.”
Reporter Alissa Silber can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.