"The Martial Arts Kid" is a film involving a troubled teen named Robbie - played by rising star Jansen Panettiere - that grows & matures after taking martial arts from his aunt & uncle, who are portrayed by martial arts legends Cynthia Rothrock & Don Wilson. It is set in Cocoa Beach, Florida and it has a great cast & crew with REAL martial artists & great action, too.
It also has another rising star, Kathryn Newton, as Robbie's friend/love interest Rina.
Even with all that, "The Martial Arts Kid" Co-Producer Ryan Westheimer says that Matthew Ziff - who plays "Bo", Robbie's bully and tormentor in the film - gives a standout performance that really brings out the best in everyone he interacts with.
When a large segment of your film is about the main character being bullied, the bully needs to be someone daunting and with presence - and Westheimer feels Ziff pulls off that task in spades.
"It's so funny, (because) when you meet him, you could never believe he could play a bad guy", Westheimer says about Ziff. "He's just the sweetest guy."
The 22-year-old Ziff has been comfortable in front of a camera, since he was only a few months old.
Ziff’s professional career started just a few months after his birth, when he was signed by Wilhelmina Models in New York and his first TV appearance was on "The David Letterman Show" while only a few months old. He has been featured in numerous print ads and campaigns, including in "Glamour magazine". Along with his brother Adam, Ziff appeared on dozens of toy boxes as well as several TV commercials for companies such as Volkswagen and T-mobile.
At the age of eight Ziff became a guest star on "Late Night with Conan O’Brien" in a skit called "Late Night with Matthew Ziff".
More recently, he starred in the 2012 film, "Treachery", for which he garnered much acclaim.
Westheimer calls Ziff a serious actor - but added that the young talent is not ALWAYS serious.
"He's just a fun guy", says Westheimer. "(He's) just always having fun, always not taking himself too seriously. But (he was) a true professional in how he approached everything."
"I mean, it was work and he took it very, very seriously (but) he had fun doing it", Westheimer continued.
Westheimer feels Ziff has a bright future as an actor.
"He's going to do very well", Westheimer concludes. "He's got great presence on camera."
"The Martial Arts Kid" is set to hit theaters in 2015