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From martial arts to the big screen

Jared Felkins • Updated Oct 16, 2016 at 8:00 AM

Whether it’s competing in world martial arts competitions or working alongside some of Hollywood’s hottest actors, one Lebanon teen racked up quite a bit of notoriety, as well as airline miles, lately. 

A year ago, 13-year-old Jake Presley made his on-camera debut in the AMC hit series, Into the Badlands. Since then, he was selected as one of fewer than 120 members of the prestigious Team Paul Mitchell Karate in its nearly 30-year history. He was featured in countless internationally distributed YouTube videos and is also one of the youngest competitors to win the AKA Grand Nationals Warrior Cup.

Oh, and he also walked the red carpet Monday alongside Hollywood stars Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, JK Simmons, Jeffrey Tambor and John Lithgow at the Los Angeles premiere of The Accountant. The movie opened nationwide to audiences Friday. 

“I think I’m going to see it with a bunch of my friends,” Presley said Thursday. 

And the red carpet stroll came right after Presley’s appearance at the Diamond Nationals in Bloomington, Minn. 

“It’s just an amazing experience to talk about the movie and everything,” Presley said of the premiere. “I loved all of it. There are a bunch of twists. It’s kind of like a puzzle. You have to figure it out. It’s pretty interesting.”

Presley plays a younger version of the brother of Affleck’s character played by Seth Lee in a series of flashbacks throughout the movie. 

“It was very exciting to be in the film, and to be in the film with Seth Lee,” Presley said. “It’s pretty exciting. I knew Seth kind of through martial arts, and on the set we became great friends.”

According to the movie’s website, Christian Wolff, played by Affleck, is a math savant with more affinity for numbers than people. Behind the cover of a small-town CPA office, he works as a freelance accountant for some of the world’s most dangerous criminal organizations. With the Treasury Department’s Crime Enforcement Division starting to close in, Wolff takes on a legitimate client in a state-of-the-art robotics company where an accounting clerk has discovered a discrepancy involving millions of dollars. But as Wolff uncooks the books and gets closer to the truth, it is the body count that starts to rise. 

“I think the coolest thing that happened while we were on the set, Ben just came and sat right down beside me and started talking to me,” Presley said. “I thought that was really cool. He’s pretty down to earth. He still has that star appearance. He’s still that cool. And, he’s Batman.”

The Accountant is directed by Gavin O’Connor and is rated R. 

“The director was amazing,” Presley said. “He really took us under his wing. He let us watch some of the scenes. The fight scenes are really great to watch.”

Chosen for the role based on his martial arts success and abilities, Presley continues to train alongside his older brothers, Reid and Cole Presley, at his family owned martial arts studio in Lebanon. He’s an international martial arts champion and had numerous appearances on the ISKA World Martial Arts Championships, which previously aired on the ESPN Networks. He has trained in traditional and extreme martial arts, as well as weapons and fighting, since he was 3 years old.

He also looks to pursue future acting and on-screen productions. He’s currently preparing to be in A Christmas Carol production in December.

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