On Sunday November 20, 2022, news broke that actor and martial arts star Jason David Frank - known to millions of fans around the world as the Green and White Rangers in the original Power Rangers show - had died aged 49. Back in 2017, for Metal Hammer's 90s issue, we spoke to Jason about life in the 90s, his love of metal and hip hop and why Power Rangers was such a big hit.
So, how were the 90s for you?
“Well, it was a lot different to how it is these days! We were the number one kids show without social media, without Google. Working in the 90s, you could focus more on your art without being interrupted. Now it’s about how many numbers you have, but back then it was more, ‘Think it, ink it’, get it down on paper and really explore the limits of your ideas. We had a little bit more private time to consider the things we made.”
What were your favourite moments from your time on Power Rangers?
“The first day on set! I was hired mid-Season One, so things were already kicking off and I was the new kid on the block… not the singers. Ha ha ha! I just remember coming on the set and experiencing it in the same way a singer would going onstage for the first time: the lights, the people, the cameras, that was a real moment for me to realise that, ‘This is the big time!’ Nobody knew The Green Ranger at that point, but I was ready to make history.”
Why do you think the 90s was such a unique time for music and media?
“You had to work hard to show who you were. Look at Nirvana: they had to work their way up through the grunge scene, gangster rappers had to work the media, and sometimes the media wouldn’t catch up to something until a week later! Quentin Tarantino was doing the same, shopping his scripts around. It was harder to get your message out there. I remember watching System Of A Down back in the 90s when they were trying to come up, going to The Roxy and giving out their 8-track! Same for the guys in Korn, too. We met some of the rappers back then as well; me and my friend Dave [Yost], who played the Blue Ranger, met the guys in Outkast and they gave us their little cassette tape! People were doing it the old fashioned way: through hard work and hustling.”
So what music were you listening to back then?
“Me and my brother liked kind of the same thing, but he went a little further to the metal stuff and I went a little further to the rap stuff. I loved the controversy from both those scenes. So we’d jam Ozzy Osbourne, Beastie Boys, Nirvana… I was big-time into 2-Pac and NWA, and my brother was into Twisted Sister and all the heavy metal bands. It’s crazy, because I see those guys at Comic-Con all the time now!”
Did you have any idea that Power Rangers was going to be such a hit?
“Honestly, I believed in the show from day one. I’m a martial arts guy and you get a bunch of guys in different colours fighting these big monsters? Kids are going to love that. Kids love cheese, and karate is so cool to watch, too. I’ve always been loyal to the brand, but I had no idea that we’d be sitting here 25 years later talking about it. But my philosophy has always been, ‘Work hard today and you’ll have a better tomorrow.’”
Was there any moment that stands out as being the most insane during that time?
“We went to Hawaii early on ,and I was like, ‘Are The Beatles here or something?’, because there were, like, 5,000 kids there waiting to speak to us and have us sign stuff. It’s kind of the same for me now at Comic-Con… except the kids are much bigger!”
So what are you up to these days?
“I have a karate school called Rising Sun Karate, and I have other Mixed Martial Arts schools as well. I’m working on three other shows – one of them is from the 90s! It’s called Valiant Comics, and I’m playing a character called Bloodshot from the 1992 comic that we’re reviving. It’s called Ninjak Vs. The Valiant Universe.”
Nice! Sum up the 90s in three words.
“Three? I only need two: totally rad.”