First, how about a little personal background.
Well, here goes. I was born the first child of three
to an Air Force family in Florida.
After my brother and sister were born, we moved back to England, my mother's
homeland, to Rice Air Force Base, where my father had been transferred. I
attended the local school, and through
friends there and television I was
exposed to the rich variety of British, European, and imported sci-fi
"Dr. Who," "Thunderbirds," "Johnny 90," "Speed Racer," etc. I had
a collection of diecast metal "Thunderbirds" ships
at one time.
We moved back to the States when I was five or six, and I can remember being
by the concept of the "Saturday afternoon movie" and the
wonderful selection of fantasy, horror, and sci-fi that
was being shown. I grew up
fueling my imagination on the likes of "King Kong," "2001," "The Andromeda
and, of course, "Godzilla." I also read voraciously and began to dream of
taking part in the genres of film I had
become endeared to as a kid. I got bitten by
the acting bug in high school (Paris High, Paris, TX!) and began to
pursue it as a
serious career choice. I hold two degrees in acting: a BFA from Southwest Texas
an MFA from the University of Pittsburgh. I've acted in over forty stage
productions, including "Amadeus," "After
the Fall," and Shakespeare's "Othello,"
"Richard II," and "As You Like It." I've also done local commercials, and
been cast in a bit part in the Jean Claude Van Damme feature "Sudden Death,"
filming here in Pittsburgh.
also co-director and founder of the Susquehanna Hat Company, a comedy-
improv troupe that performs locally. Think
along the lines of Comedy Central's
"Whose Line Is It, Anyway?"
did you get selected for your role in "Power Rangers"?
Just like anything that happens in the crazy town of Hollywood, it was who you
I had moved to L.A. in late August of '92, and in early October I got a call from my
friend Stacy Fish,
who was working as Second Assistant Director on a pilot for a
kid's TV show that, as she said, "might get picked
up by Fox." I went down to the
offices at Saban and was introduced to the cast, Haim Saban, the director, and
Tony Oliver, the writer. I went through a series of about five readings with the kids
– I believe they
had only brought in two actors to audition, myself and another
gentleman whom I cannot remember much about except
that he was already
bald – and by that afternoon I was cast as Zoltar in the then-titled "Dino Rangers"
project. An interesting note for your readers is that the original episode had a
different Trini, a girl by
the name of Audrey du Bois, if I remember correctly, who
had very short hair and was Hispanic.
So what's it like playing Zordon?
I really felt – and this is not just stroking my actor ego – that the character of
Zordon got "shuffled under the rug," whether due to production costs, test
audience reaction, or whatever. In
my perception, he is the Rangers' mentor,
their Obi-Wan Kenobi or, to be even more blatant, their Splinter. He gives
their powers and equipment, helps them out in rough spots, and congratulates
them on a job well done.
A benevolent father to Rita's witchy mother-figure.
Playing the role was a real kick. I mean, here was a character
that was a mish-
mash of a dozen similar wizard types from Gandalf all the way to Charles Xavier
It was easy to slip into a powerful, all-knowing persona, having grown-
up reading, watching, and "play-acting" this
type of being all through my
When I arrived on the set, I was ushered into the make-up room and was shaved
bald and had my ears
glued back. Then my eyebrows were arched up with a
make-up pencil and I was splattered with green paint from the
chin down so the
rest of me wouldn't show up on the "blue screen." I sat in a high chair in front of
camera for about four hours, acting and reacting to the Assistant Director's
hand, which represented whomever I was
talking to during my speeches. As it
turned out, this is the only footage they shot for the character, which explains
his mouth is fudged over and you never see his lips move. I was brought in
when scripts were ready and
provided the dialogue for that particular episode. It
had been discussed at one point to bring him out of the dimensional
during the second season, but that idea was abandoned, as the producers
wanted to keep him as a plot
/ information-moving device. I was aware of the
character of Barza, the original Japanese "Zordon," and didn't understand
the producers felt he was serving a better function being trapped in a bubble. I
guess they felt the
powerful wizard having to depend upon an incompetent robot
would serve as comic relief and balance out against Rita's
own clownish goons.
Interesting Note #2: The first character generation of "Zoltar" was an amorphous,
jello-like head with eyes – although at least you could see his mouth
and lips move! And the Command Center
was also shot on the same stage that
was used for the Klingon trial chamber from "Star Trek VI"!
You mentioned in your
letter to us that you're an anime/live-action fan from
way back. I imagine this also influenced your decision a little
to try out for
"Power Rangers." How did you get involved in those genres, anyway, and do
you have any particular
When I was
growing up, I got hooked on the "Godzilla" series, as well as
"Ultraman," "Spectreman," and the "G-Force" and "Spaceship
Like "Power Rangers," these series all explored the bigger-than-life ideals of
evil, mankind vs. nature, right and wrong, and honor and standing up for
your truths and beliefs. It's easy to see
how these ideas get lost in the chintzy
special effects and formulaic storylines, but these are what we are realizing
our own modern mythology, a sort of 20th century retelling of "Jason and the
Argonauts" or "The Odyssey."
They speak to our child-minds of basic human
traits and conditions, and how we confront and deal with those issues.
ancient myths all speak in metaphor, and these anime series are just
extensions of that mythic storytelling
tradition, tales that help us learn about our
world and how we should live in it.
I had no idea what the
show was about when I got cast, but upon seeing the
completed footage, I was really excited about the project and
its place in the
genre. Hollywood can be a screwy place, and a lucky few get to work in series
Given the drawbacks with my character and the borderline goofiness
of the whole thing, I'm still happy to be involved
Getting back to your occupation, what are your career plans for the
Well, I hope to be working on the film, of course. I left California for personal and
financial reasons –
I wasn't making any money – and so have been away from
the main production for about a year now. That's still
my face up on the screen,
though uncredited, and they're getting a lot of mileage out of it. However, it really
establishes my mug as that of the Big Z, and I say go for it! If they want the kids to
identify the character
in the movies, I would hope they'd know who and what
Zordon looks like. As I said, I'm still working here in Pittsburgh,
on the Van
Damme film, local theater, and the improv troupe. As for going back to L.A.
have to think hard about that one, and having steady work
already wouldn't hurt!
What would you consider the most "plum" assignment you could get?
Well, one of two things. I'd really enjoy getting a chance to work
on the next set of
"Star Wars" films, possibly playing one of the Dark Lords of the Sith – kinda
for that role-reversal thing – or a younger version of the Emperor. Know
who I should contact?! I would also
love to write for film. Getting an idea that has
been created in your mind up on the silver screen is quite an achievement.
Any parting words for our readers?
Just remember to keep your dreams alive and that success has a strange
of touching all of us at one time or another. Keep on plugging away, and "May the
power protect you!"