Having starred in more than 20 feature films and on television countless times, Zelniker is perhaps best known for his portrayal of trumpeter Red Rodney in Clint Eastwood’s award winning film BIRD; and for his Canadian Academy Award (Genie Award) winning performance in THE TERRY FOX STORY, with Robert Duvall.

Zelniker was born and raised in Montreal where he trained as an actor at Dawson College’s Conservatory Theatre School. After graduating, Zelniker moved to Toronto, where he began working in theatres all across Canada doing everything from Shakespeare to David Mamet, appearing in more than 20 Equity productions, including AMADEUS, HENRY V, MOTHER COURAGE and AMERICAN BUFFALO. During this period he also co-starred in several award winning Canadian films including TICKET TO HEAVEN, HEARTACHES and THE TERRY FOX STORY.

Since moving to Los Angeles, Zelniker has worked extensively in both movies and television. His credits include co-starring in David Cronenberg’s NAKED LUNCH with Peter Weller; QUEENS LOGIC with John Malkovich and Kevin Bacon; TOUCH AND GO with Michael Keaton; and BIRD with Forest Whitaker.

On television he starred in the Showtime mini-series THE NEON EMPIRE; Masterpiece Theatre’s GLORY ENOUGH FOR ALL for PBS; the ABC mini-series CROSSINGS with Christopher Plummer; Regent Entertainment’s NOSTRADAMUS for the SCI-FI Channel, and TORNADO WARNING for PAX TV. Zelniker guest starred many times on series such as THE DEAD ZONE, CHICAGO HOPE, MILLENNIUM, PROFILER, THE INSIDE, STRONG MEDICINE, VERITAS THE QUEST, FOR THE PEOPLE, IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT and MURDER SHE WROTE.

Zelniker has starred in several independent features including, SNIDE AND PREJUDICE, directed by Philippe Mora; AIR TIME, directed by Gary Fleder; WITHIN THE ROCK, for the SYFY Channel; MERCENARY, for HBO; the Sundance Lab developed film, AFTER IMAGE; and EARTHQUAKE and RATS for Nu Image.

As a director, Zelniker directed the critically acclaimed CHILD’S PLAY, at the John Anson Ford Theatre, the sketch comedy show, WHITE HOUSE CHICKS at the HBO Workspace, WAITING FOR LEFTY and MOONCHILDREN at the Lillian Theater, and ONE LOVE and LOVE AND DEATH AND OTHER TRIVIAL MATTERS at the Artworks.

As a filmmaker, Zelniker co-wrote, produced, and played the title character in the critically acclaimed, festival award winning feature, STUART BLISS. He also directed, co-wrote and produced the low budget, experimental feature, FALLING… that premiered at Indie Fest USA International Film Festival in August 2012, winning their Best of Festival Award. It is being distributed by Vanguard Cinema.

Zelniker currently teaches and directs at the New York Film Academy (NYFA) in Los Angeles, California. Between 2004 and 2013, he taught and directed at AMDA, College and Conservatory of the Performing Arts in Hollywood, California.


5 Responses to “About”

  1. Hey so this is pretty much a test message to make sure this is how I can get in contact with you in the first place lol

  2. Ali Graves Says:

    Hi Michael! This is Ali Graves from you acting class in 2009. I hope you are well and have had a great Christmas and New Year. I’ve finally got onto your blog! What an incredible resource, I will have to spend a few days reading all of this! I wanted to get in touch for some advice, I would really appreciate it if you could email me ali.graves@live.com

  3. JOHN ADDEN Says:

    Hey Michael,

    I was acting in LA in the early ’90’s and I studied with you at paramount studios. I also worked with Tony Spiridacus there also. I quit acting for about 10 years, had to deal with pain and its results, but want to return to class to see if it is still there. I am , unfortunately in NYC, so cannot return to you, but was wondering if you had any suggestions here in NYC for a coach/mentor.

    Thanks for your response.


  4. Douglas Waltz Says:

    Question; If I were to send you two copies of Pick Up Summer, one for you to keep. Would you autograph the other one for me? I will send proper return postage and a copy of the book your interview is in. Thanks for letting me know. 🙂

  5. Hey Doug,

    Please check your email.



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