Fall guy makes New Orleans area home

Eddie Matthews (right) with actor Alan Arkin
Eddie Matthews (right) with actor Alan Arkin

A stuntman with more than 200 movie and TV projects on his resume has relocated his family to Hollywood South.  Eddie Matthews calls the New Orleans area the new Tinseltown.

"There are thousands of people, men and women, trying to be stunt people. It's very tough and it takes years to get established." he said.

Matthews has been around a while. "Dennis Hopper, and this guy David Carradine, Kung Fu," he said, naming some of the stars pictured on the wall of his new home in Metairie.

He has spent more than a quarter of a century of taking risks.

"I was doubling a lifeguard on Baywatch and we were supposed to break out of this structure but the wall would not break," he said.

The structure was on fire and Matthews say he and the young woman had to visit the burn unit after that.

Looking at his body of work, you might be tempted to call him crazy.

"The whole daredevil thing is a misconception," he told us. "You really wouldn't last long. You might endanger yourself and other people if you're crazy."

Always athletic as a kid, he grew up in Des Moines, Iowa and played baseball and other sports. Matthews says he was never formally taught to be a stuntman. He says after college he started doing wild west shows in Arizona. He later got a job doing high-dive shows at Magic Mountain.

"I had a background in trampolines," he said. "I wasn't a great diver, I was a trampoline guy."

He was 10 when he got his first backyard trampoline. "For stunt people the trampoline gives you a good aerial sense," he said.

His new backyard is a stuntman's dream.  The trampoline is still the center of his training regimen, practicing the falls for which he is famous.

The 51-year-old father of three is passing on what he's learned. Aaron Matthews is Eddie's son, also a stuntman.

"The stunt guy's job is to sell the reaction," Aaron said as he punched the air toward a fellow stuntman, Mark "Tank" Fisher.  It's part of the art of making a movie fight look real.

"Actors don't have to do anything," says Matthews. "They can run they can jump but the stunt guy has to act like he's getting beat up."

Eddie choreographed a scene with this reporter - I flipped him effortlessly. Eddie did all the work using his acrobatic skill.

He loves working, and that's why he moved here.  Hollywood, he tells us, is gone.

"There are 150 movies made in Louisiana this year," he said. "Five movies are being made in Hollywood."

He says it pays well when you're working, but the job of stuntman is so insecure that you don't work all the time.

"As stunt people we have to make it look dangerous - most of the time, more than it is. We have to walk away for the next day," he said.