UFC strawweight fighter Paige VanZant has gotten bitten by the acting bug.
VanZant left the cage to appear on Dancing With The Stars earlier this year, where she's made it all the way to the finals which begins tonight. Now, VanZant will be making her big screen debut as she is joining the cast of Kickboxer: Retaliation due out next year.
VanZant will play the role of Gamon, a 26-year-old fighter who also knows how to handle a gun. Her character will have ties to the criminal underground, but it's unclear whether she'll be with good guys or playing for the villains. The role was written specifically for VanZant after producers of the film saw her on DWTS.
“Paige is the up-and-coming darling of the UFC and her star quality shines through on camera,” Rob Hickman, producer of the film, told Deadline.com in a statement. “She’s a tremendous asset to the film both as an onscreen talent and as a trainer-fighter.”
Retaliation will act as a sequel to Kickboxer: Vengeance which will be released August 19, 2016. Vengeance, which stars newcomer Alain Moussi, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dave Bautista, and women's MMA pioneer Gina Carano, is a reboot of the Kickboxer franchise, which was started by Van Damme in 1989. In the reimagining of the series, Van Damme will slip into the role of the master who trains the young Kurt Sloan, played by Moussi, for his fight with Bautista's Tong Po.
As for Retaliation, the sequel will follow Moussi's Sloan, as he travels to Thailand to fight the monstrous Mongkut who will be played by Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson, best known as "The Mountain" in HBO's Game of Thrones.
Principle filming has already begun on the pic in California and Nevada. The production will resume in Asia some time in June. Our House Films is producing the movie, while Acme Rocket Fuel will act as the production company.
VanZant, who is represented by 3 Arts Entertainment, will be competing for the DWTS trophy tonight on ABC. The finale and trophy presentation will air tomorrow at 8/7 central. There's no word when she'll make her return to the cage.
No release date has been set for for Retaliation but it's slated for a 2017 release and is written and directed by Dimitri Logothetis.