The Power Rangersfilm reboot isn’t set to come out until next summer, but we got a chance to catch up with some of the young cast members who will be starring in their first major feature films as these iconic characters at last month’s San Diego Comic Con. Directed by Project Almanac‘s Dean Israelite and co-starring both Bryan Cranston and Elizabeth Banks, this Lionsgate potential-franchise is definitely one to watch.
Here’s what Becky G (Trini, aka the Yellow Ranger) and Dacre Mongtomery (Jason, aka the Red Ranger) had to tell us (and a group of other press) about what it was like working on Power Rangers…
Tell us something about how you were cast for this project.
Becky: So, I was actually on tour and I had no idea what I was auditioning for because my agent didn’t tell me. So, all I had was sides from what wasn’t even from the film — the script or anything — so I got kind of, somewhat of a character breakdown. And I told my agent, ‘Girl, I’m on tour bus with a bunch of people. I ain’t got time.’ She’s like, ‘Please, just do it. Trust me.’
… So, I recorded my self-tape and sent it in, and my agent got back to me and said, ‘So, they want to see you when you get back from tour.’ And I was like, ‘They who?’ And she said, ‘The Power Rangers.’ ‘The Power Rangers?!’ I totally freaked out. Got back to L.A. Met Dean the director who was incredible, and I auditioned with a bunch of other actresses for the role of Trini.
… I was like, ‘There’s no way I’m gonna get the part. There’s no way. They’re incredible.’ And Dean called me a couple of days later and said, ‘Hey, I’ve got a serious question. Are you ready to be the Yellow Power Ranger?’ And I just broke down into tears.
It was a really big moment for me because I’ve always had an itch for acting and a passion for acting, but never really got to dabble into it too much, and now I can say I’m officially an acrtress. I had great people like Dacre and the rest of the cast to look up to and learn from, so it was awesome.
Dacre: For me, I was doing the last show of the last play of the third year of my drama course in Australia [at] my acting university. I got a call from my now-manager saying, ‘Can you be on a plane tomorrow morning.’ The morning after this play. And I said, ‘For what?’ And she said, ‘Power Rangers.’ And I hadn’t even taped. And I was like, ‘Oh my god, how did this come about?’ She had sent something to the casting director and he had asked if I could straight away.
So, I traded my business class ticket for two economies/coach tickets and took my mom, and we landed in L.A. the next day and met with the director, who it turned out I had actually met a decade prior when I first started pursuing acting [in his] student film. He’d gone from Johannesburg to Perth in western Australia and done an arts degree. And then come to AFI after that in Los Angeles.
So had you done anything back home [in Australia]? Surely, you must have done Neighbors or Home and Away?
Dacre: No, I hadn’t. I’d been auditioning for almost a decade and never got a role until this. It’s kind of a big jump. But I was studying at WAAPA.
Anyway, so I landed Saturday night, met with the director. We found that we had this crazy, 10 years [ago student film], in common. I had one line in his film. I was the chubby bully kid who poked the protagonist. And then I tested with another guy that was going for the Red Ranger the next morning and it went well, and then I got a call the following morning …
So within four days of not even knowing about the project that I had the role. And that was kind of like the crazy turn-around.
Becky: And now we’re Power Rangers.
So where’s the production at now?
Dacre: We’ve done all the production. We’ve shot for four months. They’re in post [production] now. Currently, they’ve finished the filming with Bryan Cranston.
Becky: It’s just in the works. And then, of course, my favorite part, the part I’m excited for: the musical production Just the tone of the film in itself is already so exciting for me. It’s a new vibe. There’s a lot more depth to the story and lots of layers to the characters, and then once you throw music on top of that? It’s magic.
Dacre: I’m really excited for the score, too. I don’t have the same musical background, but I’m a big fan of original film soundtracks.
Is the song going to be in it?
Becky: That’s a great question. Because we’re not in that part of it yet, we have yet to really know or yet to really say what it is, but there is collaboration.
Dacre: I’m very excited to see what our composer does. Same composer as Thor. A lot of drums and violins. Very staccato. It’s beautiful. I’m really excited for that to just help make that drama juicier.
What did either of you know about Power Rangers before getting the roles? Were you fans? Were you aware of it? What was your relationship to it?
Becky: I grew up watching it before elementary school every day while eating my cereal. I’m Mexican American, so there’s a lot of us. I’m one of 19 grandchildren on my mom’s side. I’m one of 15 on my dad’s. So, you know there were a bunch of kids running around, fighting over which Power Ranger they’re gonna be. Nobody ever really wanted to be the yellow one except for me, so I got lucky on that. Yellow was always my favorite color. It’s just crazy how everything comes full circle.
Dacre: I think, for me, it was more of the idea what a superhero means. Growing up, I was into Power Rangers. I was into Batman. I was into Spider-Man. It was more about this journey into manhood, and looking up to these kinds of characters, like vigilantes who sort of look after people. All the people look up to these [characters], so it’s a big responsibility for me.
I was saying earlier, and it sounds super cliche, but my sister is 12 years younger than me, and I remember when I was there holding her in my arms for the first time. And that kind of responsibility you feel when you hold a child in your arms. I think it’s the same thing when you get a role like this. You gotta step up to the plate. And I think there’s a lot of heart between all of us.
Can you guys talk about your characters in the movie?
Becky: Yeah, I play Trini, the Yellow Power Ranger. She’s just a badass. She’s just so cool. I think there’s a lot of self-discovery for herself in this journey that she embarks on in this film. She’s not aware of the strength she carries inside, really.
She’s a loner. She owns it. She’d rather be by herself — the lone wolf — than to make friends because she’s constantly traveling. She doesn’t really have her feet planted on the ground because she doesn’t have time to do that. She’s constantly moving around due to her parents always constantly dragging her around because of their jobs.
She’s an older sibling, constantly being annoyed by whatever comes her way. It’s not her intention; it’s just how it comes off. I think when she meets these other four incredible people, they kind of bring the best out of her, and she eventually finds herself realizing things about herself or saying things out loud that she had never even thought of before. So, it’s a cool coming-of-age story for all of the characters.
[Turns to Dacre] I think your story’s really cool, too, because it’s breaking a stereotype, I think…
Dacre: Yeah, I think, for me, the idea of Jason is that he’s captain of the football team, he’s a good-looking guy, he gets the girl. All that stuff. Which is really interesting because, in high school, I wasn’t that person. I was really overweight. I didn’t have any friends. I was bullied. I didn’t play sports.
It was interesting because working with Dean, our director, it was about finding that middle ground. So, here’s a character in the script who he is the captain of the football team, but I think he’s seeking a relationship with people in the other social groups in the school. That’s very much what I did because I didn’t have a group. I was always looking.
So, for me, it was about bringing my experience and then melding it with what I sort of built for myself — which was losing weight, which was training for the film, which was everything I learned after graduating high school. It’s sort of finding a nice place in-between.
Isn’t it strange that people see in you something that you weren’t in high school [in casting this character]?
Dacre: I hope I have a long and very diverse career, and I hope people get to see me in different lights. But for those people who do know me and who went to highschool with me, I always was pursuing acting. I always wanted to do that. It was always something that crafted who I was.
It was always a bit of a tall poppy syndrome, as we say in Australia. You get big ideas, people cut you down, but I always knew I would be successful. I don’t mean for that to sound arrogant in any way at all, but I always was focused on the same dream. So it doesn’t seem either a surprise to me, nor my friends.
What do you remember about the first days on the set?
Dacre: First days on the set? A lot of learning. I don’t think you ever stop learning. But, as soon as I get on set, I’m surrounded by these people who have had these extremely diverse careers already — cast, crew, Elizabeth Banks, the director. So it was just really an opportunity for me to be aware.
And, literally, I went and I was a sponge for four months — a hard-working sponge. Every set you’re on, every location, the people you’re with. That’s what’s so good about [the rest of my cast] is that they all come from different cultural backgrounds, so I had an opportunity to soak you guys in everyday and learn from you.
Becky: I think it’s really cool, back to what you just said. We all come from different places, different continents, different backgrounds, different upbringings — and that is the story of our characters, as well. So, what was happening on-screen was what was happening off-screen, as well.
It was intimidating, it was scary. For a lot of us, it’s our first huge production, so although people were like, ‘Oh, it’s like whatever.’ You think I’m experienced, I’m like, ‘I don’t know what the hell I’m doing. Help me, Dacre!’ [Laughs.] We were a team. I think that was really good for us. We were very collaborative and inspired by each other, which is huge.
Dacre: We’ve made a big point of saying that the relationship that you are going to see on screen that we form by the end of the film is no different off-screen. From the first day we met, we all bonded. We are friends offscreen. We’re extremely close.
And I don’t say that lightly. We really did have four intensive months learning and growing and learning about each other. The director was extremely giving to that, that opportunity towalk up to set everyday and we wouldn’t necessarily stick to the script. We would just go with the flow and see where we went.
Becky: It was fun. It was a fun experience.
Dacre: A lot of play. Like a big film set, but lots of play. I feel thankful to have had that opportunity, especially for my first film.
What about in terms of story? What can you tell us about what’s going on in the film?
Dacre: The term that has been used is ‘coming of age’ … What was I saying earlier about Shakespeare and how those themes, literally, are relatable to this day? They’re universal, right? And the themes that you see in this film are universal. The difference between the TV series in the 90s [and the reboot film] is that it is [set] now. We’re appealing to a contemporary audience.
I know that Bryan did say in an interview that he mentioned The Dark Knight and that it would be a darker adaption. I think we’re appealing to a day and age where we live in the Avengers age, the DC/Marvel era where films are sort of crafted for a different demographic. We’re appealing to a demographic that spans from six-year-olds to 50-year-olds. The OG fans, as we like to call them, the kids coming up, and the target audience now, which is your 15 to 23-year-olds, which are the people that are making the box office sales of your big franchises so huge.
Becky: I think that it’s important for it to be real. These characters are dealing with real issues that teenagers nowadays are dealing with. One that [Naomi Scott, the Pink Ranger] talks about a lot is the cyberbullying. You’ll see some of that, and then each character has their own little thing that you’ll come across in the film. It’s genuine, and it’s things that I think some of us have experienced and are able to talk about those things and relate them to our characters.
But, yeah, just having that sense of realness to it. It’s like this imagination world, but at the same time there’s so much heart to it, and I think people will really care for our characters and learn to love them. For me, Power Rangers was a huge part of my childhood, but, at the same time, it was the colors, it as the pows, and the fireworks when they would hit something — not necessarily the story of a specific character that I was like, ‘Man, I really connect to that. That really hit me in a specific place.’
Now, kids are bullshit meters. We can smell bullshit right away. When something’s not real, you can’t connect to it, and I think people will really connect to it.
You’ve mentioned that your characters are from such different backgrounds. Can you talk a little bit about how they all come together and what that looks like initially?
Dacre: Yeah, it is interesting because we are, as I explained before, from different social circles in this particular world that we built in the film. We being everybody involved in the project. I think that we all have something different to offer and each of us comes from social circles that are struggling with different problems.
And then, on the outer circle of that, you’re looking at all of us are from different parts of the world — cultural, social, economic, every kind of background you can imagine — we have come and we formed, and the director has allowed us to work that into the script. So, you’re meeting a group of people that don’t initially like each other, and then they become friends. And what we have to offer is bringing those different cultural backgrounds and going, ‘I wasn’t that guy. And then, I went into that guy’s role, but I made it sort of different.’
Becky: I think for Trini, too, it was a lot of self-discovery for me as a person, as Becky. Me, being new to the acting scene, I was very open to everything. I mean, I had conversations with you, asking, ‘How would you go about this?’ Just to be inspired by someone else’s idea of how they would receive my character and how they thought she would be.
There were a couple breakthrough moments for my character that were relating to me in real life that I didn’t realize until I was like saying these lines. It would just hit me and I would get goosebumps or I would get emotional. And it was just overwhelming. It became so real and, everybody’s characters, again, because it was so real when they merge on camera, when it happens, it’s so special.
Dacre: I was saying to one of the gentlemen outside that’s helping look after us. When we were around — you know, private area, no cameras on. He goes, ‘That last interview you gave, you guys seem so close when you’re all together.’ And I was like, ‘Yeah.’ And there is, to use your term, there’s like no bullshit.’ That’s what you see is what we really are.
How did you receive the news that Bryan Cranston would be cast and what was it like working with Elizabeth Banks?
Dacre: Initially, I didn’t know that [Bryan Cranston] was originally affiliated with the Power Rangers and that RJ’s role of Billy Cranston was named after him. And, for me, it goes, I watched him in Malcolm in the Middle. I watched him in Breaking Bad.
Becky: You freaked out. I think everybody did.
Dacre: Same with Elizabeth Banks. We got more one-on-one time with Elizabeth Banks. Each of the cast, in particular Becky. But, for me, it was: a seasoned actress, walks on set. She makes decisions and choices that push you to come up to that bar to meet those decisions. But, yeah, you [turns to Becky] worked with her directly, quite intensely…
Becky: Yeah. It was pretty crazy. Bryan being a part of it is amazing. Back to that, there was kind of like this ongoing joke because, when we did our first table read, we had no idea who was going to be playing Zordon. No idea. So we all had our own, ‘Does he sound like Harry Potter? Like English accent, like [puts on deep voice in English accent] Zordon? Or is it like Buzz Lightyear?’ I don’t know, you [turns to Dacre] can do that better than I can.
So we have no idea, but all we know is this person is going to be epic. Whoever it is that they choose has to be, right? So when they announced Bryan, it was just like, ‘Perfect.’ That is who it has to be.
And with Elizabeth, it was like you said: incredible. Seasoned actress, but fun, too. Awkwardly beautiful when you see her as Rita [Repulsa]. She’s kind of scary, but she’s also sexy in a weird way. And she’s kind of insane, but really funny. So she brought a lot of different dimensions to her character, which I thought was really cool to interact with and play with.