POWER Rangers icon Jason David Frank insists he will never stop meeting his die-hard fans — despite a deranged follower trying to SHOOT him.
The US karate expert has played Tommy Oliver — aka the Green Power Ranger — in the kids TV show for the last quarter of a century. But in 2017 crazed gunman Matthew Sterling turned up at the Phoenix Comic-Con with two 45-calibre handguns, a.454-calibre handgun and a 12-gauge shotgun — and Jason as his prime target. Cops later discovered that Sterling, who also had a combat knife and pepper spray on him, had “set a calendar reminder in his phone to alert him to kill the victim”. But the 46-year-old action star maintains the worrying incident HASN’T put him off getting up close and personal with his army of followers.
And he maintains it will be Go Go Power Rangers when he arrives at Comic Con Scotland in Edinburgh next month.
“After that incident people were saying to me that there are all these crazy people at Comic Cons, but I was like, ‘No — the world has crazy people. Yes, people do take their devotion too far. But it could have happened anywhere. Whatever reason was in his head to kill me, I just embraced the situation. Everyone thought I was going to cancel afterwards, but there was no way I was pulling out. I told them ‘It’s ok, he’s locked up, let’s continue. I know most would run and get scared, but I haven’t changed my approach at all. I love meeting fans. It has increased security at shows more, but that’s the organisers who do that, it’s not something I’ve ever asked for.”
The Californian-born martial arts expert and actor landed the role as Mighty Moprhin Green Ranger — a bad boy turned good — for the show’s launch in 1993. Originally he was meant to appear in just 10 episodes but proved so popular he starred in over 230, morphing into the White Ranger, Red Zeo, Red Turbo, before he returned in 2004 as the Black Dino Thunder Ranger. The franchise was sold to Disney for £2.5billion in 2001 and continues to be made to this day. But the show, based on the Japanese comic book series Super Sentai, was actually cancelled before it even got started.
“It was constantly turned down over an eight-year span and then finally Fox said ‘We will give you a chance with 40 episodes. So they filmed it, then cancelled it — which I didn’t even know about — then the next thing you know we were the No1 kids’ show in the world. Suddenly we’re uncancelled. But I always put in a lot of passion, and believed in it 100 per cent. There were plenty of people who didn’t. Fortunately we proved everyone wrong.”
Jason credits the catchy theme tune, written by US heavy metal musician Ron Wasserman, as playing a huge part in its success.
“Ron and his team at Saban created tunes for Inspector Gadget and Super Mario Bros – they were the master of theme songs. He also realised there was more money in music for cartoons than being in bands. The tune is kind of attached to me and it still feels good. The fact I like the theme song helps, because it is played wherever I go.”
And Jason believes he’s learned to become a role model over the years as fans continue to tell him about their heart breaking childhoods.
“I get people telling me ‘You got me through a really tough time as a kid as my folks split up’ or ‘I was bullied at school but you helped.’ I have seen other actors be dismissive, but when you have changed someone’s life, then take the time and hear them out. So I take being a hero seriously. I work out, I train, I don’t drink, even though I used to do all that stuff. I’m trying to live like a superhero because I think it’s important to have role models to look up to.”
Powers Rangers was given a reboot in 2017 with a Hollywood movie version with Dacre Montgomery — who plays Stranger Things baddie Billy — as the Red Ranger and Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston as wizard Zordon. Jason and the original Pink Ranger, Amy Jo Johnson had cameo roles in the film.
But he believes the big money version had a fundamental flaw — it was too slick. He explains: “Kids like things to be cheesy. If something is cheesy then they are going to enjoy it.
“If it gets too complex and has CGI then it takes away the feel of it. I enjoyed the movie although I think we could have helped it if our characters had been more involved because we would have attached the childhood memories to the adults who watched it. I think that’s the reason it didn’t make all the money they thought it was going to make. Now there’s another reboot so they are going to hire a whole new cast again.”
The sixth-degree black belt, who is also an undefeated Mixed Martial Arts fighter, runs a karate school in Houston, Texas, where he lives with his wife Fannie and their 16-year-old daughter Jenna.
But he’s happy to always be known as a Power Ranger. Jason says: “Of course when I was a kid I never thought I would be doing this role 25 years later.