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You’re a good man, Noah Schnapp

By LISA COLEMAN BRADLOW

Mitchell Schnapp has a great video on his iPhone. It follows his son, Noah, in full costume as a 1950s boy on the front stairs of a Brooklyn house. A bearded baseball-capped man invites him to join a crowd of about 20 people gathered around a birthday cake. It’s midnight on a movie set, and Noah has just turned 10. The bearded guy next to Noah is Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, also in 1950s costume, begins the crowd singing “Happy Birthday.” It’s a pretty cool video to have on an iPhone. But Noah, now 11, has had some pretty cool experiences so far.

Scarsdale sixth-grader Noah Schnapp is currently appearing in Spielberg’s “Bridge of Spies” starring Tom Hanks set in the Cold War era about an American lawyer recruited to defend a Soviet spy in court. Noah plays Hank’s young son Roger Donovan.

But trumping that performance is his role in “The Peanuts Movie” as the voice of Charlie Brown. “In the beginning, working on it was very independent, and no one knew who played the other parts,” said Noah. “It was just me and the director in the sound room.”

Noah is a bright-eyed, cheerful student at Scarsdale Middle School which he attends with his twin sister Chloe. His family has lived in Fox Meadow since 2006, his dog’s name is Spaghetti, and in his spare time, Noah likes to write and film movies with his twin. “She writes the script, I film and we both act in it,” Noah said. Currently, they are working with ketchup as a special effects tool. Chloe eschews acting, and instead plays the violin and sings.

The “Peanuts” project took Noah several years. Since animators need to draw the characters to a voice speaking lines, Noah began taping Charlie Brown’s voice several years ago, along with a slew of other kids also reading for Charlie Brown. But as the movie was created, the characters’ voices were finalized. Noah learned that his was the final choice for Charlie Brown last fall, and was recording final voiceovers as recently as a month ago.

None of the kids in the cast actually met each other until last Thanksgiving on the “Today Show.” Most live in California, but “we’ve been texting each other all year, and we made a ‘Peanuts’ chat. We all got really close. So it’s kind of crazy how it works.”

Noah’s story begins when he was about 5 and saw the Broadway production of “Annie.” “I came out crying because I wanted to be on that stage.”

Said Noah’s dad, “I was an athlete, that was my thing. So I had him in all the football and soccer activities, and he was picking daisies in the outfield. It just didn’t look like it was his thing. My wife had the common sense to suggest steering him to something else, and he really liked to perform.”

His parents enrolled Noah in an acting program at Westchester’s Star Kidz with coach Alyson Isbrandtsen. “I loved making up a whole make-believe world,” said Noah. His coach soon referred him to MKS&D Talent Management, “which led to everything,” said Noah’s dad. “We went for a year auditioning maybe four times a week, and not getting anything.” But then in the summer of 2014, Noah was cast in “Bridge of Spies,” and Noah spent a month working on location in Brooklyn, and was then back in school.

Noah is currently working as a guest star on a pilot series for Netflix titled “Stranger Things” by the creators of “House of Cards.” He will film all of February in Georgia, and if the series takes off, Noah’s contract will be for six years, filming for six months — October through March — each year. Schooling will happen in a school trailer on the set.

“Noah’s a good student, but it would be tough,” said Schnapp. “Schooling is a priority for us, and we don’t give an inch. He knows that when we’re on the road, we’re tough as nails with him.”

It’s a bit tricky for Noah to get reintegrated in school each time he returns from working. “When I get back at first it’s really cool, and everyone’s like ‘Wow!’ and I try to catch up. But after a few days, I’m back in the swing of things.

“My parents are not into this at all, so it’s kind of weird how it happened,” said Noah. Noah’s father is a private equity manager and his mother Karine is a senior vice president of marketing and communications at Hugo Boss, but they take turns with his babysitter bringing Noah to and from auditions, which are mostly in New York City. His extended family is mostly in Montreal, Canada.

During this past summer, Noah spent several weeks in Park City, Utah, taking part in the Sundance Directors Lab along with Robert Redford and Ed Harris. He was the youngest person invited, and played the lead in a film by director Brent Green. And just recently, Variety listed Noah in its “Youth Impact Report” as a rising star to watch.

“I love it. It’s hard for me to think of anything I don’t like about acting,” said Noah. Added his father, “When the camera rolls, or he’s recording, no matter how tired he is because of traveling, he’s game on, he lights up. As an adult, I sometimes feel like I still don’t know what I want to do with my life, and he knew at 5 years old. Some people say it, but he knows it.”


Read more local coverage of your hometown in this week’s issue of The Scarsdale Inquirer. Newsstand copies are available at several locations listed above, or subscribe today for convenient home delivery.

 

November 13, 2015