Eye on Film: RJ Cyler aka The Blue Power Ranger

The Power Rangers franchise has been around for decades and has evolved a great deal over time. And with each new rendition comes a new generation of fans. They’ve definitely come a long way since those tight leotard days to take a place as one of this country’s favorite favorite pop culture mainstays.

As far as casting for the new Power Rangers film is concerned, the casting of Billy couldn’t have happened to a more deserving nerd. As fate would have it, this big budget offering just so happens to be a fictional work that had become embedded into the youth culture of RJ Cyler’s home city.

“It was a big thing in the city where I’m from, Jacksonville, Florida,” said Cyler. “We would all get together and watch it. It’s one of the things we would do, along with basketball and fighting one another, that helped us bond.”

“It was really cool to be a part of it mostly because of our director. He grew up as a fan of Power Rangers. It was fun to be a part of his imagination process, so to speak. We both share some of the same ideas about the movie and it’s cool because we connected there when it came to creativity.”

“I felt excited about it. The thing is, it’s a re-imaging. It’s not that we’re trying to replace any of the franchises or anything like that. They mean a lot to the fans and they mean a lot to us. As far as the campyness of Power Rangers, that’s ingrained within the Power Rangers itself. The campyness, the message that anybody can be a hero, no matter where you’re from or what’s your background, no matter your culture or your financial bracket.”

RJ on the Power Rangers’ Signature Campyness:

“That doesn’t matter. As far as campyness, you might as well grab a tent and get a bucket because that’s how campy we get with some of our lines and actions. It was relayed beautifully. He would go over the scenes, and we would be like, ‘But that doesn’t make sense.’ And he’ll say, ‘It’s not supposed to make sense. It’s a comedy.’ And we’d be like ‘Ooooh.'”

On Seeing the Special Effects for the Suits:

“I was tripping, to be pretty honest. I was like ‘Dang, that looks pretty damn cool.’ The suits are cool because they don’t just appear out of space. They come out of our skin almost like we’re sweating. Like, we can’t have them in some random ass place or just hanging on the wall. It don’t work like that. You can’t just put them on. Even the aesthetics of the suit! They work, man! Dang!”

On Working with the Cast:

“It was really cool working with the other Rangers. It was just as cool as working with them. We’re all just a bunch of kids and share a lot of the same things. Dean understands us and some of our quirky sayings. As well as our teenage problems that aren’t really problems. Except for Instagram. That lives eternally.

On Seeing the Megazord for the First Time:

It’s this generation’s version of what a Megazord would look like. When any non-nerd thinks of a Megazord, they’re going to think of big guns, huge robots, changeable parts and situations. Parts that move fluidly yet are complex at thee same time. I mean, that’s what you’re going to think of. When I finally saw that on the screen I was tripping.”

On Overcoming Stereotypes and Racist Assumptions:

“Certain people feel like actions are only done by black people or certain actions are only done by Asian people, or certain actions are only done by white people. I feel like those are the kind of things that lead to people segregating themselves. That just shows our ignorance. One dude was like, ‘I hope you don’t lose a lot of slang in the movie.

And I’m like ‘Why would I do that if that’s not something the character would do.’ I’m like ‘You know black people speak with good grammar too, right? I wouldn’t be speaking in slang all the time. I can actually use good grammar and enunciate. If anything, I’ve shown what the real African-American that’s going through these things is really like in this role. Then one kid assumed that Billy didn’t have a Dad. And I’m like, ‘Why wouldn’t he have a Dad?’

Our director mentioned to us before we even started filming like, ‘Listen, these are the stereotypes of your characters and what people may think they should be, yours should be the total opposite. Play real people. So there were a lot of stereotypes that were broken in this movie. There are a lot of cultural boundaries that were kicked over and a lot of racial boundaries that were kicked over. I feel like that’s what makes this movie so cool.”

Power Rangers opens in theaters nationwide Friday, March 24.

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