How familiar were you with Power Rangers before being cast as this character? Did you watch it as a kid?
I sure did!!! It’s funny, because I don’t actually remember the middle or end of the series (from the time Jason, Zack, and Trini left onward) very much at all – or even Zeo, for that matter. What I DO remember is the first season of the originals, with the original rangers and the introduction of Tommy, and then I also remember watching the MMPR movie and Turbo movie over, and over, and over again. I distinctly remember dressing up as the Zeo gold ranger once for Halloween, but I don’t think I even actually knew at the time that Jason had had a stint as the gold ranger (although I sure knew that he came back in the turbo movie)! I just thought that black suit with the gold chest piece was wicked cool.
I did go on, however, to watch PRIS, Lost Galaxy, and Ninja Storm later down the line, which is probably my favorite (after Mighty Morphin’, of course)!
How does it feel to be playing such an iconic figure as the Red Ranger?
Jason has always, always, always been my favorite Power Ranger, so it’s even more surreal to me. I always thought Tommy was cool, and I kind of liked Billy, because blue was my favorite color as a kid, but there was something about Jason that I absolutely idolized – his heroic / iconic shouting voice, his impressive physique. His cool, collected, sometimes stoic style of leadership. These things, among others, elevated him to the position of role model in my young eyes – a position shared by a select few individuals (including, but not limited to Kevin Sorbo’s Hercules and Vin Diesel’s Riddick).
How did you get the role for Jason for PR:Zenith?
Hahaha, it’s sort of funny you should ask! Emmanuel and I, though we aren’t very vocal about it on the social media pages, are actually the co-creators of Zenith. However, there was a time before I was involved at all, when it was solely his. At the time, it was a vastly different story, though still Power Rangers-oriented. He and I had connected through another project (coincidentally, it was through Brandon Benz, Zenith’s Billy Cranston) and, as just two dudes with a borderline-inappropriate love for Power Rangers, we completely nerded out together on set. Like, ALL day, as I remember it.
Anyway, not long afterward, he approached me with the project and, long story short, brought me on as his Co-Executive Producer, and we began forming this beast into what it is now. Actually, in previous iterations of the story, before I was Jason, he was considering casting me as Shane Clark, the Ninja Storm red ranger. As I mentioned earlier, Ninja Storm is one of my favorites, so I was beside myself with the idea. But Jason? I’m still not 100% sure this is real life.
What’s the best thing you’ve done on set so far?
Boy, that’s a tough one. I remember one of the very first filming days, and we’d been doing fight stuff all day long, with little or no dialogue. But finally, toward the end of the shooting day, the rangers were all together and I got to yell what might very well have been some of the first dialogue we ever shot: “IT’S MORPHIN’ TIME!” And with a set full of Power Rangers fans who were all just so in love with what we were doing, we all just sort of had to take a moment to lose it there briefly. It was just such an iconic line, and the realization of what we were (re)creating really hit. The goosebumps didn’t go away for a good ten minutes.
What do you and Jason have in common?
Well, apart from our dark hair, dark eyes, and dark complexion, we can both be INCREDIBLY stubborn. And while, to be fair, our stubbornness may often stem from good intentions, I think we both really need to learn how to take a break on ourselves sometimes and realize that it just “ain’t that serious.” Also, I’m pretty sure we both have a crush on Kimberly, whether we admit it or not. I can’t really speak for him on that one, though – you’d have to ask him. 😉
What will you be bringing to this character that maybe wasn’t in the original show?
I guess, as an actor in this particular project, one which people are SO emotionally connected to – one which has been done and redone a million times, but NEVER so exactly re-created in the way that we’re recreating the originals (same exact characters, and everything), I feel like my responsibility is to get as close to the character from the original show as I possibly can – particularly because we’re doing this for the fans, and we want them to feel like they’re watching the same characters they knew and loved during THEIR childhood on the screen again.
However, as a writer and producer, I can also tell you that our responsibility (and great joy!) is to add a depth to the show that just wasn’t there originally – whether it was because of the era (90’s acting), or because of the fact that they were trying to take recycled footage and write a cohesive story, there were obviously some things missing (though we didn’t really seem to mind as kids). In regard to Jason, I can tell you that we’ve added a lot to develop and explain the more stoic, solemn, heavy-browed side of his nature. In the television show, Jason was just the all-American cool jock that naturally seemed to rise to a position of leadership within the group. Zenith will help tell the story of exactly why he is who and where he is, which is important for a whole HOST of reasons that I can’t go into. 😉
Be prepared to see Jason make some mistakes.
What can PR fans expect from this fan film?
They can expect to pee their pants. I’m talking, don’t have anything to eat or drink for at LEAST 24 hours before you watch Zenith.Seriously, though, like I alluded to earlier, they can expect something that turns their nostalgia dial STRAIGHT to 100%, while also adding entirely new layers of rich, complex storytelling and thematic concerns that are still COMPLETELY cohesive with and rationalized by the original source material.
How can people keep with you and PR:Zenith online?
We are on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter I believe, but we are by far most active on our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/PowerRangersZenith), so that’s definitely the best place to keep up to date with our progress! As far as me personally, you’re more than welcome to add me on my personal Facebook page! I pretty much accept everyone until they prove themselves unacceptable (which has happened, like, once ever.)
I also have an Instagram and Twitter, but those are mostly meant to direct people to my YouTube channel, Muscle & Magicka, which is a combination of fitness/nutrition tips and video games/fantasy. Here are my social links:
Any last remarks or shout outs?
I love my momma! She’s my number one fan! And I love Papa Pugh, who imparted upon me my love of film and television. My sister’s pretty ok, too. She’ll be even better when she picks up Dragon Ball Z and Doctor Who so we can talk about them. Most importantly, a shout out (as if He needs one) to The One who is the author and provider of opportunities such as this one in my life. And Emman, if you’re reading this, UUGH, go DO something with your life! Geez!!!!! Go feed my son or something.