We got a chance to talk with RJ, learn more about the intense training he underwent for the role, how he used to make Power Rangers costumes as a kid, and much more.
Playing a power ranger is definitely somewhere on the list for every kids dream job or role to play in a movie. The fact that the movie is a great watch only helps make this a dream come true. Well, we got a chance to speak with RJ Cyler about his role as the ever essential blue ranger who will certainly be a crowd favorite in this latest iteration of the franchise. RJ opened up on a variety of topics, from his childhood love of power rangers and how that love transfigured itself into homemade costumes on Halloween, to the intense training he underwent for the role and the interesting and explosive skills he carried with him beyond the film. Check out our entire interview with him below:
What was your favorite thing about being the blue ranger?
My favorite thing about being the blue ranger is the fact that I get to change what the view is on people that are on the spectrum or seen as nerds. All nerds do not have a stigma. They don’t all wear glasses, or have tape in the middle of their glasses, or have high jacked up pants. I don’t like it when people put a look to a characteristic or a skill. Just because Billy is a cool person doesn’t mean he isn’t really, really intelligent. That’s the thing that I was able to bring out in this movie. Also, just the understanding of people that are on the spectrum because they’re all like just like us. Some people feel like oh, they’re different, they need some extra help, they need this and that. They’re literally just like us. They want to feel, they want to love, they want to laugh, they laugh at the same thing. They think the same things, they have different point of views. As human beings, we’re afraid of what we don’t understand, and so, in this movie, I get to show what it’s like being the insider looking out in those situations and I get to put the audience in those shoes of somebody that’s on the spectrum and who’s in these situations and has these tendencies and that’s really cool.
Were you a fan of the program growing up? Who was your favorite power ranger when you were a kid?
When I was a kid I mostly watched the Might Morphing Movie and my favorite rangers were the red and the blue and I used to try to dress up like them on Halloween, but they didn’t make red and blue trash bags, so I just used a black trash bag and have like red stickers or blue stickers.
How much do you relate to your character Billy? What do you guys have in common or not in common?
I relate to Billy a lot. I think the only thing that we don’t relate on is that fact Billy is more to himself, he’s scared, he’s socially awkward. Me, I’m not. I’ll just be like hey, how you all doing? What’s up. But when it comes to similarities we’re the same person to be honest because a lot of Billy’s mannerisms and his ticks and his life and beliefs, they come from my weird mind to be honest. Yea RJ would say that, yea RJ would do that and it’s kind of cool to put that in Billy and it worked.
Tell me about a favorite scene that you filmed during this process.
I think my favorite scene is a scene in the movie where we all , as Zordan says, shed our mask. That to me was a really fun scene to shoot because we got to see not just these characters open up, but people. We shot mostly chronologically and it was cool to see at that point in our friendship we were at the same point that we were in the movie. We felt comfortable opening up to each other and getting closer to each other.
How was it working with such a close knit bunch, just the 5 of you guys? Was there any particular bonding moments.
Our first real bonding moment was when we first met, and we had already been in a group chat before us being in Vancouver. We met each other in person and that night we had this impromptu table reading at my house, then we just in the matter of a few hours we cried, we laughed, we got angry, we calmed down from being angry, you know it was just like that bonding moment a friend needs on screen and in real life. What you see on screen, we’re ten times closer in real life. Than off screen and it’s really cool to have friends like that cause we literally go back and forth with each other, we give each other trash, but we all love each other, dearly.
Tell me about Israelite. How was working with him?
Dean is like the perfect director because he gets the fact that actors want to be creative. He trusts your creative ability and judgement. If you have an idea, he’ll ask you what it is, what it needs to be and what he needs it to be for the picture and most directors don’t do that. They see actors as this commodity that are just meant to put on screen to make money. They just see us as characters or pawns on a chessboard and I feel like Dean has really understood that actors are real people. He took time to bond with you, to get to know you, bond with you, to trust you better, know your character better than anyone on set. That creative opening to say this idea and know my director would listen to me was really cool.
I heard your character’s last name was named after Bryan Cranston, is that true at all?
It actually is, Billy Cranston is named after Bryan Cranston.
How’d that come about?
I literally don’t know, but it’s lit.
Tell me about your character’s father and how he impacted him and how that defines him as a person.
I feel like Billy’s papa, he did pass away. It’s one of those things I have with my Dad. My Dad is almost like my brother but he’s my Dad. I tell my Dad everything, I go to him with everything and I feel like that’s the relationship Billy had with his Dad. They had common interest and that’s what made them close and made him say things to his Dad he couldn’t say to his Mom, or to his friends or he couldn’t say to himself. Like this is making Billy feel worse, I can go to my Papa. It’s a really strong bond that Billy has with his Dad that he doesn’t get to explore in the last rendition but in this one we get to see that Billy’s father meant to much to him.
Those fighting scenes were so cool, how’d you prepare for them?
It was tough as hell but it was really fun to shoot. We did a lot of training two months prior to filming and when we got there we had to do ten times more training because we had to do the choreography, we had to keep in shape and then we had to learn flexibility, working with wires, explosion safety so it was really really cool to be able to be like able to take all these lessons. Sometimes I would mess the scene up on purpose just so we could do it again. It’s just too much fun. In regular life now, I would know what to do in some situations.
Are you a fighter now?
No, I just know how to mix some compounds to make an explosion.