Catching up with the original Power Rangers

On August 28, 1993, Americans were introduced to the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.

The show re-purposed footage from the Super Sentai television series in Japan (which has been running on TV there since 1975). Taking footage from the sixteenth incarnation of Super Sentai (Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger), producer Haim Saban created a successful Americanized version of a hugely-successful Japanese show.

Since 1993, there have been multiple American incarnations of Power Rangers. And now the franchise is back in theaters with a reboot based on the Mighty Morphin series that hit US television screens nearly 24 years ago.

PRIMO NUTMEG recently interviewed four of the five surviving Mighty Morphin Power Rangers -- Austin St. John, who played "Red Ranger" Jason Scott Lee, could not be reached. Thuy Trang, who played "Yellow Ranger" Trini Kwan, tragically died in a car accident in 2001.

Here are the highlights from PRIMO NUTMEG'S recent interviews with four of the original Power Rangers.

JASON DAVID FRANK, a.k.a. "Green Ranger" Tommy Oliver

During his interview, the actor and real-life mixed martial artist doubled-down on his challenge to fight CM Punk (aka Phil Brooks) in the UFC.

Frank has been calling out Punk since before his dramatic loss to Micky Gall at UFC 203 last September. With Punk now "feverishly" looking for another fight in UFC, Frank is once again publicly challenging him.

"If Punk fights again, everybody at the banks, everyone in the UFC wants me to fight him," Frank said. "So if he fights again, that is definitely something I would like to do."

"I never thought he’d sign with UFC," Frank added. "I picked him because I like the guy, he’s got a huge fan base and he wants to fight. I don’t want to pick a fight with someone to convince them to fight, he actually wants to fight, so I said, hey that’s perfect."

Beyond being a well-known actor, Frank is a skilled martial artist with a black belt in karate and a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He has 1-0 professional MMA record and a 4-0 amateur record, with all of those fights taking place in 2010.

In addition to challenging Punk, Frank also stated that he would like to work with WWE.

"Man, I got a chance to visit some of the WWE guys and looking backstage it’s much like the UFC," Frank said. "I’m not talking about the fighting but the energy that everybody puts into the show. So one way or another I would like to get involved with WWE or UFC to please the fans. To me, I’ve been fighting my whole entire life, I can do it tomorrow if they’d like. I love it, it just has to make sense why we’re doing it."

Walter Emanuel Jones, a.k.a. Zack Taylor "The Black Ranger"

During his interview on PRIMO NUTMEG, Walter Jones discussed his dancing career and the fact that he was competing on Star Search and appeared at the 1992 Olympics roughly one year before Mighty Morphin Power Rangers debuted.

Jones also tackled the regular accusation that the original color scheme of the show was racist -- Jones, an African American was cast as the Black Ranger, and Thuy Trang, a Vietnamese American, was cast as the Yellow Ranger.

According to Jones, the colors were a complete coincidence. He points to the fact that the original Yellow Ranger in the pilot was a Latina actress. Jones also said that originally he auditioned just to play the character of Zack Taylor and did not know the color of the ranger costume. Once he found out that his costume would be the color black, Jones says that he was happy about it.

In the new movie, the character of Zack Taylor is played by Chinese-Canadian actor Ludi Lin.

During the interview Jones also discussed what caused him, Trang and Austin St. John to leave the show during the second season. That departure of half the cast led to the long tradition of replacing cast members on the show.

Jones said that the original cast members still keep in touch and run into each other occasionally.

David Yost, a.k.a. Billy Cranston "The Blue Ranger"

David Yost, discussed his difficulty in coming to terms with his homosexuality in the late 1990s, as well as a recent controversy involving Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston (who also happens to play Zordon in the new Power Rangers film).

Yost discussed how the harassment he faced while working on the show came when he was personally struggling with his own sexuality.

"It was really hard for me to go to work every day," Yost said. "I was hating myself so much because I really didn't want to be gay. And I had already started the process of what they call Conversion Therapy when I was still on the show, at the tail end of it. Just because this was something that I hated so much about myself and I didn't want to be gay and I just had so many beliefs that it was wrong and that it was against God and all this stupid stuff now when I look back on it. Like it was really just such a horrible mental thing that I did to myself."

Talking about what it took for him to be able to accept his sexuality, Yost said that he unfortunately "hit rock bottom."

"I contemplated suicide many, many times when I was on Power Rangers," Yost said. "I had to go through a nervous breakdown. I had to be hospitalized. I had to be on medication for anxiety and depression. I really had to crash really hard to get to a point where I could start repairing myself and start saying, 'Okay, this is who I am.'"

Yost also addressed comments that Bryan Cranston made a few years back. During an interview with IGN in 2009, Cranston mentioned that Yost's character on the show, Billy Cranston, was named after him, but said that that was a "problem" because "he's the fey one."

"If somebody want to think that it's a 'problem' as he stated in his comment, that's his business, but I am who I am," Yost said. "I don't necessarily think his comment was about my character cause it doesn't make sense about my character. And all the people that write to me and tell me, 'He didn't mean it the way you're making it sound, he meant it literally.' Like if you look up the word 'fey' literally the dictionary, I think it means something like 'jovial.' So if that's truly the case, if he meant it literal, what would he say that's a 'problem.' His comment was, 'He's the fey one, that's the problem.' So it just doesn't make sense. It's a very rude comment."

"He's apologized, so to speak, through his manager or somebody. And that's fine. I accept his apology. But it should be evident to people that this is sort of the stuff that I went through when I was on the TV show. So it's just those little jabs, those backhanded comments that aren't necessary. But those are things that I would hear all the time. And that's what caused me to leave the TV show. Because who wants to go to work when people are making dumb comments like that on a consistent basis?"

Amy Jo Johnson, a.k.a. Kimberly Hart "The Pink Ranger"

Amy Jo Johnson discussed much of her early acting career, including her time both on Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and Felicity.

Johnson talked about why she did not leave the show with Jones, Trang and St. John when they left during the second season. She stated that she did not understand the business well enough at the time, was scared, and said that she does not believe she even had an agent at the time. She said that she left the show a later when she "felt it was time" to move on to other acting projects.

Johnson also discussed her music career, and the fact that she received guitars when she left both Power Rangers and Felicity.

She also talked about recently becoming a filmmaker, and the fact that she was launching a contest for fans to launch a theatrical screening of her film, The Space Between, in the fan's hometown.

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