Over twenty years ago in 1993, the world at large was introduced to the ‘Mighty Morphin Power Rangers’! A band of teenage superheroes who would use martial arts and high tech Zords (robots) to fight off evil monsters and defend the earth! A few weeks back it was announced that Saban Entertainment and Lionsgate plan to reboot the ‘Mighty Morphin Power Rangers’ as a new film franchise to bring the series to a whole new generation of fans!
But what about the former generations? When it comes to ‘Power Rangers’, one name generally stands about above all others- Jason David Frank. Frank is best known as the first Green Ranger, Tommy Oliver. His character would eventually go on to become the White Tiger Ranger, the Red Zeo Ranger, and Red Turbo Ranger. Frank departed the series during the ’Turbo’ era in 1997, but returned as the Black Dino Ranger in 2004’s ’Dino Thunder’ era. Jason David Frank’s Tommy Oliver even makes an appearance in the show’s current iteration, ‘Power Rangers Super Megaforce’, now back in his original Green Ranger costume. Throughout the series run over the last two decades, Frank has remained an integral part of the franchises history.
Recently, at a Wizard World Comic Con event in Philadelphia, ScienceFiction.com was able to talk to Jason David Frank about his experiences with his time as a part of this iconic pop culture franchise.
Science Fiction (SF): When you first joined up on ‘Power Rangers’, did you have any idea that it would become as big as it has now? Especially twenty years on?
Jason David Frank (JDF): You know, I was just telling someone earlier, I didn’t do something to make it big, but I did it because I was passionate about something. I was only hired for like ten episodes, and I didn’t care, because I loved it! I wanted to act, I thought it’d be great to be a superhero, and I just stuck with it! I put in the time, you know? Like when I do appearances, there will be a hundred or more Rangers fans and people will ask me “What is the magic? Teach me how to do this!”, and to me it’s just like… it’s just been going on so long. You just have to work at it and keep grinding at it, and show people that you’re HERE, even when you’re nothing. Like, it was here and it was something big, and then it was nothing for a while. Then I did ‘Power Rangers Dino Thunder’ and I couldn’t really give interviews because there just wasn’t any hype. I did ‘Dino Thunder’ to help the franchise- I just kept pushing and pushing to show the fans that I’ll continue to be here! And I continue to be here for zero appearance fee. I refuse to charge for my karate classes, I refuse to charge for Q&A panels, and when people come to my table, if you have money, great, but if you don’t, who cares? It’s not an option that you have to buy something in my line. You can hang out, take pictures, shoot video, shout out loud all crazy, whatever you want really, because it’s not about money for me. I’m happy to do what I do! I’ve got schools, I’ve got businesses. I think people can see that. Even you guys, back when you were kids, you can tell when an adult is bad or good; and I think people can feel that I’m genuine. It’s the best thing in the world.
SF: With the ‘Power Rangers’ series having just hit it’s twentieth anniversary last year, how does it feel to have remained arguably the franchises most popular character?
JDF: Hey man, I’m just happy to be there. The franchise did this a long time ago, and I was only hired for ten episodes! They built this brand, much like any other brand is built. It wasn’t accessible back then. Green Ranger was, for me, even not playing him, I loved the character. I’d rather be alone, I never wanted to be ‘with’ the Rangers. It wasn’t my thing, and I was happy to come and save the world with the Dragonzord, then go back and flip kicks in the park. So when they suddenly wanted me to be the ‘leader’ , it was like “ehh…”. It wasn’t something that I was hoping for, but it was something that I was molded to do. It’s weird, because I was only originally hired for those ten episodes, and now it’s just so big! And it’s relaunching again! But I’ve just been doing this for so long, and it’s weird because even just a few years ago I couldn’t get booked at cons for anything! But I was there anyway, signing for free, because it’s about the fans for me.
SF: Is it ever daunting to you to think about how you’ve been a role model for going on three generations of kids now?
JDF: You know, it’s funny you say that, because it really is! I don’t know if I can handle another generation, but definitely for three generations now, I’ve been out there. But it’s great for me, because that’s the reason that it’s popular! I’ve got the old school, then of course I’ve got the White Ranger, which was featured in some of the highest rated episodes of all time, and then I went and did ’Forever Red’ and ‘Dino Thunder’, and just recently now I’m doing ‘Super Megaforce’. So I’m staying with the franchise, and even now with the reboot and everything, nobody knows what the reboot is all about right now, but even Saban agrees that I’m the ‘face’ of the ‘Power Rangers’ franchise. You can’t help it. It’s kind of like, to me, that I can’t think of ‘X-men’ without thinking of Wolverine, and I love Wolverine because he’s just cool. It’s kind of like that.
SF: Speaking of the recently announce ‘Mighty Morphin Power Rangers’ film series reboot, what are your thoughts on that? Would you be involved in the film if they asked you to be?
JDF: Oh yeah, I’d love to be! I’m involved a lot with Saban. They’re actually backing my reality show right now ‘My Morphin Life’. They just jumped on board to start producing that a bit, and after that I’m working on a Green Ranger series possibly with them! I’m working very strong on that. They know me, I’m all over San Diego Comic Con doing all the promotions, and they know they don’t have to worry about me. It’s not about money with me, it wasn’t about that twenty years ago and it’s still not about that now, that’s why you see me back on ‘Super Megaforce’, because I love what I do.
SF: So with your reality series, ‘My Morphin Life’, I know you’re only a few episodes into the first season, but how did that come about? Was that your idea, or did the Bat In The Sun Youtube channel come to you with it?
JDF: I actually had all this footage, and Bat In The Sun saved me. We did the ‘White Ranger Beat Down’, which was huge, and Aaron (Schoenke) saved me. He’s awesome, and I told him we’re going to work on the Green Ranger series. I’m doing anything without Aaron. I thought of the series and I said “look, help me out on this”, and we’ve already filmed ten whole episodes for the first season, and atually have five more filmed for season two already! It’s turned out to be kind of a big thing, and it’s funny to me because I just thought “man, ‘My Morphin Life’, that could be awesome”. I just thought it was brilliant., and really, no one else could really do ‘My Morphin Life’, you have to be a Ranger.
SF: Are there any plans to bring the series to full prime time television, or will it remain strictly an online web series?
JDF: You know, Con TV, and I’m not necessarily sure because we don’t know how big it’s going to be, but I like it because it’s Con TV. This is my genre, this is what I do. I think it’s an awesome way to present it, and at least for season two, that’s how we plan to release it. I’ve got plans for seasons three, four, five… this thing could just get bigger and bigger! I don’t mind sharing my life. And like most ‘reality’ shows it’s not like really real reality, because honestly we all have our down time, but it’s as real as you can get.
SF: So, stepping back a moment, how did it feel to get back into that familiar green spandex after twenty years for your appearance on ‘Super Megaforce’?
SF: And finally, if you had to pick, which of your various uniforms that you’ve worn over the years would you say is your favorite? Which Ranger is your favorite to be?
JDF: The most comfortable is the White Ranger costume, and my ‘favorite’ one is starting to be a mix up now because lately I really have been repping the White Ranger a bit more and it’s really been growing on me; but I’ll have to say the Green Ranger is still my favorite. It was my first one! You’ve got to love your first.
Jason David Frank is currently touring with Wizard World Comic Cons and can be seen in his own reality series ‘My Morphin Life’, as well as the currently airing ‘Power Rangers Super Megaforce’. You can also keep up with him more directly via his personal Facebook Page and Instagram.