Power Rangers cast talk friendship and Zords at NYCC
‘Legend of the White Dragon’ Reunites Original Power RangersThe Original ‘Power Rangers’ Movie Should Have Stayed Small Stay on target The Power Rangers are back, and they’re friendlier than ever.Imagine falling into a coma in the year 1994 and waking up today. Everyone’s still talking about Clinton, Trump, vinyl, Batman, Superman, Final Fantasy, and Power Rangers. You’d either be disappointed, elated, or feel some kind of Mark Hamill-at-the-end-of-Force-Awakens emotion. Did culture just stop? Or did it…morph?If you don’t remember Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, a mish-mash of American teen melodrama and footage from Japanese tokusatsu shows, then you didn’t have a childhood. Just kidding. But if you thought 80s nostalgia was wearing out its welcome, then get ready for the return (onslaught?) of nerdy properties from the 1990s.The difference with Power Rangers is that it never went away. It’s still going! And there’ve been around 19 different shows based on the Rangers since the early 90s. You can throw all the Putty Patrols you want at it, but there’s no defeating a series this resilient.Grae Drake, senior editor of Rotten Tomatoes, touched on that point at the Theater in Madison Square Garden, before she introduced the cast of the new movie. “The 90s brought us so many great things,” Drake said to the crowd. “Slap bracelets… they brought us Discmans… they also brought us the musical group, Nelson. Not a lot of cheering for Nelson. And not one of those things has survived the test of time like these five teenagers.”Then the director, Dean Israelite, took the stage, alongside Ludi Lin (Black Ranger Zack), Naomi Scott (Pink Ranger Kimberly), RJ Cyler (Blue Ranger Billy), Becky G (Yellow Ranger Trini), and Dacre Montgomery (Red Ranger Jason). Bryan Cranston (Zordon), Elizabeth Banks (Rita Repulsa), and Bill Hader (Alpha 5) were noticeably absent. No Bulk and Skull either.But the new Rangers were relaxed, open, and ready to talk about bringing the Rangers to life on the big screen.On tackling Power Rangers in the modern age…Dean Israelite: Really, there were two things that were important to me. I grew up on Power Rangers in South Africa. What was important to me from the beginning was making a movie about growing up, and I wanted to make this a grounded character-driven origin story that was always set to the backdrop of this fantastic adventure. So, always at the center of the approach was making these characters real and identifiable as they go on this big, spectacular odyssey.On stuntwork and training…Becky G: I think I just got caught up a couple of times in the hustle of, like, ‘Okay, next shot, next shot,’ but I gotta go pee! And the next thing you know I got a, uh, a sprained ankle.Naomi Scott: I mean, there were a few accidents, I think.Becky G: A lot.Naomi Scott: When I was training, obviously, there’s choreography, and for the first time I was ever on screen doing choreography, [embarrassingly] I literally punched someone on the mouth and made them bleed—one of our stunt performers.Ludi Lin: And the nicest person, too! The person that least deserves it.Naomi Scott: Well, I bled as well…RJ Cyler: No, that was his blood on your knuckle.[crowd laughs]Ludi Lin: Each time, we went into this warehouse full of wires, full of mats, full of weight equipment… it felt like superhero training. I felt like I was in there to prepare to save the world, y’know?On their favorite “move” or “jam”…RJ Cyler: Well, let’s be honest. If I were RJ, I like to run away a lot, okay? …I like to run away with strategy. That’s my plan, y’know? I see confrontation, okay, I can either go down this way, or I can go down this alley that’s lit, there’s a police officer, there, I’ll be safe! But I think my favorite move to do now, right—I like working with my hands; I like boxing, and stuff like that—but my stunt double Aaron taught me this thing called the axe kick, right? And I cannot do it in these jeans because they are entirely too tight…Grae Drake: Aw, you can’t do an approximation?Ludi Lin: Use your fingers! Go!RJ Cyler: [miming with his fingers] It’s like, it’s like, it goes straight up—Ludi Lin: Wataaaaaaaaaaa!![crowd laughs]RJ Cyler: It’s with that sound, though! The reason why it’s my favorite move is because I’m already tall, right, and this move makes me feel way taller, ’cause my legs are long! So it makes it seem like I can fight, but I can’t! So I really love that about this character, Billy. We can’t fight, but it looks like we can, y’know?On the giant robots, the Zords…Dacre Montogomery: The Zords that make an appearance in the film are incredible. And working with the technology that we did work with, these sort of flight simulator machines, are pretty extraordinary. Especially from me, y’know, coming from a small town in Australia, and then suddenly being on this huge film set, and we’re flying around in the final days in this pod, like… Y’know, seeing Chris Pratt do it behind the scenes in Guardians of the Galaxy—huge shout-out, I love that film [crowd agrees]–and suddenly being in there, being directed by this great guy, and these guys around, and watching them do it as well… Then the Zords sort of come to life… But they’re incredible; they’re huge! They’re huge things, and I think it definitely takes you on that journey, that those epic sort of Marvel, DC-world films at the moment which are so incredible to watch at the cinema! Just getting lost in these worlds created by the special effects crew. The kind of technology we have at the moment is so incredible; it becomes so realistic.Dean Israelite: Now, what was important to me was to make sure that these guys were really there. We built all of their cockpits and put them on a huge platform and built two techno cranes. It’s basically like being in a crazy roller coaster for 12 hours a day. I shot so much footage that we broke the record for dailies for three days in a row.Ludi Lin: We felt the physicality. It was difficult; it was hard. I now know how controlling a big, gigantic machine should feel.RJ Cyler: These Zords don’t have airbags, this ain’t no Prius. I left with a lot of bruises, even though I’m chocolatey.”Becky G: I had a hard time in the Zord. They caught me praying in Spanish.Dean Israelite: I asked ‘What’s going on?’ and they went ‘She’s praying.’Then, after a short video with Elizabeth Banks, who apologized for not being at New York Comic Con, (but namedropped the Putty Patrol and Goldar), the crowd at MSG got to watch the new teaser trailer. If you saw it, you know it contains a lot of teenage angst and Sam Raimi Spider-Man-style superpower discovery (complete with leaps across chasms), but not a whole lot of Power Rangers-specific details besides an Angel Grove sign. No peeks at Zords, Zordon, or even the suits. Director Dean Israelite tried to assuage everyone that we will be getting the Zords, the spaceship, the Putties, Alpha 5, Goldar, everything. But still no mention of Bulk and Skull!Then it was Q&A time.What’s your character’s major trait?Ludi Lin: My character is Zack. I think he’s charged. He’s always amped up and charged and ready to go.Naomi Scott: Kimberly has a maturity about her, and I respect that because I’m not always so mature myself.RJ Cyler: I play Billy the Blue Ranger, and my favorite characteristic is that he’s wholehearted in every situation. But I’m wholehearted in every situation.Becky G: What I love about Trini is that she’s independent. She’s a loner, but she owns it.Dacre Montogomery: Jason’s pretty empathetic and that’s what leads him to having a relationship with all these people in different social circles.RJ Cyler: [speaking of Dean Israelite] His New Balance collection! That’s a trait everyone should see.What was the feeling you got when you first morphed into the Power Rangers?Ludi Lin: It’s about the process of becoming a superhero. The suit comes from within. It’s about discovery; it’s a coming of age story.Becky G: I learned a lot filming this movie, it felt like I deserved that moment. I felt like I deserved my suit.How did you build that team friendship on and off camera?Becky G: Dean [the director] took on that leader role from the beginning. Right away, he reached out, ‘Hey we have a Whatsapp going on.’ We would be sending pictures of what we were doing so it awesome to already have that.Ludi Lin: I wanna point out the difference between virtual reality and reality. I encourage you to meet your friends in person. It’s crazy concept nowadays! We exchanged photos and videos, and I had a very different perception of my cast members before I met them. I think when you haven’t met the person for real, they tend to be way more intimidating than they really are, but you meet them, and they’re people. They’re just people! We’re Power Rangers, but we’re just people.Dacre Montogomery: It doesn’t become an acting thing when you’re so close, it becomes a real thing.Naomi Scott: As Trini and Kimberly, we weren’t sure how to talk to each other at first… it was like a little love story.…Now bring on Bulk and Skull! There’s still time to digitally add them in before Power Rangers opens March 24, 2017!