Being a Power Ranger was always a sweet gig, and amid thepandemic, it’s a job that the new heroes of aren’t taking lightly.
I spoke with actors Russell Curry (who plays Red Ranger Zayto), Kai Moya (Blue Ranger Ollie), Hunter Deno (Pink Ranger Amelia), Tessa Rao (Green Ranger Izzy) and Chance Perez (Black Ranger Javi) about their journey through auditions on Zoom, having to quarantine before filming to working with Power Rangers’ veteran-filled crew. We also talked about what it was like to watch the first episode that premiered on Nickelodeon last week.
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity. Throughout the interview we also have an exclusive clip and first look images of the second episode of Power Rangers Dino Fury, titled Sporix Unleashed. The episode will feature Kai’s character Ollie attempt a plan to help his team, but without asking for their assistance. When the monsters take advantage of Ollie’s idea, he learns the value of working with his new teammates. The episode will premiere on Nickelodeon Saturday at 8 a.m. ET and PT.
CNET: When I spoke withlast week we were going over the differences in the audition process: Having to use Zoom instead of in-person meetings, what was that process like for each of you?
Hunter: For Dino Fury, Kai and I had the most similar story. We started back in March with our first taped audition and we found out Aug. 13, so it was a long process but it was rewarding and it was Kai’s birthday when we found out.
Kai: Everyone had it different. Me and Hunter’s were in March, and the next audition in June and then July and August. For the others it was a little different.
Tessa: I did a tape in May and did another tape a little while after and didn’t hear anything back for months, and got asked to go in for another character quite soon before I got the role and then the day after was asked to audition for a Ranger again and five, six days later was cast and moved to Auckland. So mine was a very quick process as compared to the others.
Russell: As actors during this pandemic, our process wasn’t that much different from what the casting process is for anything else during the pandemic. It’s almost all virtual. The difference between doing it on tape from your home versus going to a casting office is actually good in some ways and a lot harder in others. You don’t get to form those personal relationships with people as much, but you can take as many tries as you want.
With my casting process I did my first self tape in about July and then I heard absolutely nothing and then my agent calls me on Aug. 5, and was like “Hey you’re free today and you’re still interested in Power Rangers and you’re down to go to New Zealand?” and I was like, “duh.” She said, “you have a meeting with the producers tonight if you can make it” and I was like, “I’ll be there obviously,” and then I find out the next day. I probably had the shortest casting process, it was pretty nice.
Chance: I got the first audition at the beginning of June, sent it in and my hair was almost down to my shoulders, I looked like a rat. It was really long and still had blonde highlights so imagine that. I got a callback, sent in another one the next week and the week after that there was a meeting in Marina Del Rey, where we met Chip, who was a producer for Power Rangers. And the week after that we did a Zoom meeting where we auditioned in front of Simon Bennett, who is the executive producer on the show, and that was probably the most intimidating part of the process but then [I] got the role. So that was mine. It all happened in over a month.
Hunter: Kai, did you have a meeting in the park?
Kai: I did, I did have a socially distant meeting in the park.
Hunter: Everything else was either Zoom or a tape. But yes, we had a meeting in the park as well, about 6 feet apart.
And after being cast, what was the quarantine period to enter New Zealand like for the four of you that flew in from the US? (Tessa is from New Zealand.)
Hunter: We all flew in and immediately got escorted to a government quarantine facility. It wasn’t too bad because we got to schedule an hour of walk and an hour of terrace time every day. We would try to schedule our stuff at the same time so we could semi-hang out — obviously 6 feet apart, masks, gloves and everything, but try to schedule them at the same time so we can at least hang out.
Kai: Part of me misses that life sometimes: Waking up to the doorbell ringing with food, pancakes, waffles. Nice.
Tessa: I’m so jealous because I had to do quarantine because I came back from the States. But I did it earlier than the hotel, so I did it at home. And there were pros to that too, don’t get me wrong, but it sounds so luxurious to just stay in a room away from my parents for two weeks.
After clearing quarantine, what is it like now living in a country that generally doesn’t have community spread of COVID-19?
Chance: It feels more normal now. When we first got here when everyone was still wearing masks and then it became a point where you don’t have to wear masks anymore, and honestly that felt so strange to me because we’ve been wearing masks in the States for so long, I’m going to bring one just in case.
Hunter: That’s how I felt last week when we went into a little lockdown because we’ve been here for so long without masks and now we’ve had to wear masks. It was just like, wow, this is a good place to be.
Russell: It’s normal: When there’s no community threat of coronavirus we live a normal life. It was really weird to adjust to not wearing them but the speed at which it became really normal for me to not wear that mask was really fast. I became very comfortable very quickly, to the point where when we did have a lockdown it was like “aw, come on.” But this is how the rest of the world lives, so count your blessings and shut up.
Hunter: Since we’re COVID-free there’s no restrictions. Nothing is closed down because of COVID, it’s pretty much like it was before COVID — [except] the possibility of having to go into a Level 2 or Level 3 [lockdown] just around the corner is always lingering right there.
Tessa: You start to get complacent, and then suddenly there’s a meeting about something that’s happened.
What are some of the biggest surprises you’ve learned since you started filming?
Hunter: I’m not a morning person so I had to get used to most mornings waking up at 4:30 a.m., but now it’s getting to the point where on weekends I’m getting up at 6 a.m. on my own time.
Kai: The biggest thing for me was ADR. I’ve never been in a studio for recording your voice and things like that and having to yell for an hour and a half. It really kills me, I’m out of there and I can barely talk. That’s the biggest one that I still have to get used to now.
Russell: It’s an intense schedule, that’s kind of the biggest thing, it’s something I was doing my best to mentally prepare for. We knew we would be working like six days a week and long hours and all that good stuff. I don’t know if there was anything that’s been a big surprise but there’s just been adjustments because nobody lives their life like that.
Tessa: I was not surprised as such but it was an adjustment to realize that I had to prioritize time that I wasn’t thinking about Power Rangers every day. There’s such a big part of our lives that is taken up by this project — which is amazing, but I thought it would just be everything and it would be great, but I realized quite quickly that I needed to set aside time where I was doing something for me or doing something for somebody else or doing something that wasn’t actually connected to that just to give myself a breather. And then when I get back into it I can go “Alright everyone let’s go!”.
Chance: I would second that, I think it’s important to set aside time for yourself as well to kind of decompress and get out of that mindset for a moment. But when you come back to the work week you grind, grind, grind. Let’s do it.
A lot of the Power Rangers crew have been on the show for a long time. What’s been a highlight so far working with them?
Russell: One of the stunt performers named Kazu — he’s originally from Japan and came to New Zealand and he’s been working on Power Rangers in New Zealand since 2002, I think. He’ll show us his stunt reel and all the amazing fight choreography that he’s been doing for years. He’s one of the people who taught us a lot of our fight choreography and stunt training. It’s just really cool to see how much history there is. We get to work with the director Yuji, who’s been on the show since the very beginning, so just the different stories they tell and that aura they bring to the series and how cool it is to be here is really fun.
Hunter: I feel like the stunt team has been around a little longer than some of the crew, so I feel we get a little more insight from them when we’re able to. I always ask the crew the very first couple of months how long have you been working on Power Rangers just to see what the dynamic is of the crew. Most of them have been around for some time.
Normally there would have been a Power Morphicon convention that would have introduced you all to fans and to other Power Rangers alumni. Have you been able to talk to earlier Power Rangers cast members for advice?
Chance: We’ve talked to some Rangers. We’ve played some Smash Bros with Brennan and Yoshi [from Dino Charge].
Kai: I think all of us were able to get in touch with our same color rangers that were Power Rangers in the past. They pretty much reached out to us and they’re so welcoming of us joining the family. They all gave us some advice and time to time check in on us, which is really cool because they’ve all been to New Zealand for a long time and will not only talk about Power Rangers but, “you should eat at this place or check out that place.”
What was it like to see your Power Ranger suits for the first time?
Hunter: When I went in for my first fitting, you have to walk through a few rooms of clothes and they have stations of sewing kits and [you can see] how they make the suits. I had walked and turned my head and saw my suit for the first time hanging before I put it on, and was like, “wow that’s me, I’m going to be in that suit.” So I asked, “is that specifically my suit?” and when I tried it on I just like look in the mirror and take it all in: Wow, I’m a Power Ranger. I’m not just putting this suit on for the fun of it, I get to play this character, which is so iconic.
Chance: It’s going to be one of those moments that I remember forever, personally. I was watching Power Rangers when I was a kid and I had Power Rangers underwear and a onesie. Power Rangers has always been a huge part of my life, so when I got this and I went into the wardrobe fitting that day and they were like, “you get to try on the suit today,” I just remember looking in the mirror and going, “wow, this is my life right now.”
Tessa: So surreal, and seeing photos of it afterwards is like, “OK!” So weird. Great weird, but so surreal.
Kai: I have a funnier story for it, just to switch it up. Mine, when I zip it up all the way, it’s actually too tight for my neck. But when trying it on they zip it all the way up and I was like [gestures tightness in neck] and that’s when they make adjustments to see what they have to do to make it fit better. When looking at it I was like, “I think it’s a little too tight,” but [they said], “it looks good, can we keep it?” I was like, “OK, we’ll keep it.”
Russell: I have a similar story, it took many fittings for it to get completely right. There was some little mistake and it snowballed, I had to get fitted into my suit so many times before it looked exactly right. And then when it did, we did a photo shoot, all of us together. The day that we’re just hanging out everybody in our suits and taking pictures and doing TikTok videos, that was one of the most fun memorable days of this entire experience.
Hunter: Before we came to New Zealand they sent a picture of a person and marked where we had to measure for our suits, and I just remember I had my mom measure me. I was just like, “wow I’m getting measured for a superhero suit right now.” Not only did my mom get to be a part of the process and fit me into it and everything. To get into the suit and have it pretty much almost fit — it was just cool going from actually getting measured on our own to being in the suit as well.
Is there anything else about filming so far you wanted to note?
Hunter: For me, our days wouldn’t be the same if the crew wasn’t as incredible as they are. I feel they should be shouted out in every interview because the crew does so much behind the camera that nobody ever sees.
Russell: I don’t know if we’ll ever have a crew as amazing as this crew for the rest of our careers.
Tessa: It was a really amazing moment to watch the first episode and get to see all of their work that we don’t get to see on each day because we’re standing in front of the camera doing it. When you finally get to see the final product and you get to see all of the hard work from all of the cast, all of the crew, all of the post-production, everyone involved and it’s all together, and you know those people, you get to point out that must have been him or that must have been her.
Hunter: We’re not only one family as a cast but the entire production is a family that when we went into lockdown last week we were all upset that we couldn’t hug each other. Very incredible.