While at Sacramento Wizard World, I had the opportunity to speak with Jason David Frank, known for playing Tommy Oliver in Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, as well as in Power Rangers the Movie, Zeo, Turbo, and Dino Thunder, plus some short appearances in other seasons. In addition to that, he currently competes in Mixed Martial Arts, and has a show on CONtv called My Morphing Life.
We discussed the longevity of the Power Rangers fandom, his MMA career, and even dealing with depression. You can see it all in the video below, but in case the loud sounds of the convention background make it difficult to hear, I’ve transcribed the interview for your reading pleasure.
G33k-HQ: (To camera) I have a joke for you: the Green Ranger, the White Ranger, two Red Rangers, and the Black Ranger walk into a room. Then I turn to them and say: Jason David Frank, thank you for being here.
Jason David Frank: Thank you, I appreciate it. I was waiting for that; that’s an interesting way to start.
G33k-HQ: So we are here at Sacramento Wizard World, and I’m here with Jason David Frank, also known as Tommy Oliver on so many Power Rangers seasons.
JDF: Doctor O, Doctor O now. Just letting you know, for the record, I’m a doctor.*
G33k-HQ: Alright! So, you enjoying your time here? Con been good for you?
JDF: Yeah, I really enjoy the time. Last year we were here… man, everywhere I go, the fans are awesome. It’s so hard to gauge, I feel like my fans are awesome wherever I go, all around the world, y’know, I spend a lot of time with my fans, and thank you guys for bringing us out here, so I’m having a great time. How about you?
G33k-HQ: I’m enjoying it immensely, it’s a great con. And, you know, it’s been twenty years since the original Mighty Morphin’ was on the air, and you’ve still got so many Power Rangers fans lining up to see you, to share their memories, to meet all the people here, how’s that been? How’s the fandom been for you?
JDF: It’s been great, man. Like, y’know, just twenty years later, the fans are all grown up and very eager to express themselves and come to a con, and really just enjoy it and get away from life, y’know? Cuz life can be tough, and then you get to be here, and be a superhero all weekend, so you don’t have to worry about your problems.
G33k-HQ: And I understand that you’ve also been doing a lot of MMA – Mixed Martial Arts – has your history as a Power Ranger impacted the way that you or your fights are perceived in any way?
JDF: Yeah, it was very hard at the very beginning, just a “Power Ranger,” but I’ve been kicking butt, so that’s squashed. Been working on my new show: My Morphing Life, which is on CONtv, and on there you see my wife fight, you see me train, you see me get my ajarn, which is master rank under the Thailand government, and it’s just a lot of fun.
G33k-HQ: And speaking of, any word from CM Punk yet?**
JDF: (Shakes head)
Some guy offscreen: He’s scared.
G33k-HQ: It’s gonna happen, man. So, we’re gonna get a little serious now. When I spoke to you earlier,*** we discussed something that is really… impactful to both of us and a lot of lives, and you’ve also spoken a little about before… it’s depression that we’re discussing, so what would you like to say regarding that?
JDF: Well, dealing with depression can be tough, a lot of people have it, man, we all deal with it; I say don’t tap, don’t give up. You gotta fight it in your mind. You can’t give in to it, ‘cause once you give in to it, you’re just gonna go downhill. So when you do feel depressed, or anything like that, you gotta fight it right away and say: “I’m not giving in, I’m not going there, I’m not getting depressed,” and you gotta fight it and soon you’ll slowly come out of it. Y’know, you get depressed sometimes; one day it’s bad, one day it’s good; one week it’s good, one day it’s bad; two days it’s bad – you gotta control it. And I posted something where it’s like “Depression won’t win,” I can’t quit, never give up, never tap – change your thought process. You really gotta change your thought process.
G33k-HQ: Personally, when I’m in one of those bad places, I find that seeing my friends, people who care about me, just really gives me a hand. What about you? What helps you get out when you’re in a bad place?
JDF: Honestly, man, it’s fans – you guys. I lean so much on my fans… remember, guys, someone always has it worse than you. Everybody, I mean, I’ll have someone complaining I couldn’t make an appearance, and I was like, “Look guys, it’s not the end of the world, you know what I mean?” People always have it worse. I’m available anytime, everywhere, if you get the chance to reach me – things aren’t the end of the world. When I complained about my broken foot, I was like, “Aww,” but then I was thinking, “Man, there’s this guy in a wheelchair, there’s a guy who can’t walk, I gotta be grateful for what I got, because there’s always somebody who has it worse than us.” Always. And that’s what I always think about, and it keeps me thankful for what I have, who I am, my skydiving. When I skydive, it gives me something to be thankful for, living, breathing, you know what I mean? I just love it.
G33k-HQ: Alright, so we’ve gotta wrap this up quickly, but I’d like to end things with a little game I like to call “What Would Make JDF Tap?” We’ve got hypothetical situations for you here-
JDF: My wife (laughs)
G33k-HQ: (Laughing) Alright, so say you’re in a match, and your opponent calls over his friends: a group of Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger fans well into their 40’s who have nitpicked their way through Power Rangers and hold you personally responsible for anything they take issue with. Do you tap?
G33k-HQ: Alright, stand strong. … Your opponent begins reading fanfiction he wrote when he was thirteen. Do you tap?
JDF: … Yeah, probably.
G33k-HQ: Your opponent places his head right by yours and begins singing “This is the song that never ends! Yes it goes on and on my friends!”
JDF: I would join him in singing, that’s how loony and crazy I am.
G33k-HQ: Even though the song literally never ends?
JDF: I don’t care, I like it.
G33k-HQ: Alright, last one: you’re playing a game of Magic: The Gathering. Do you tap?
G33k-HQ: Yeah, you gotta tap if you want to play your cards, man, you gotta tap your Mana.****
G33k-HQ: Jason David Frank, thank you very much, it’s been an honor. And thank you, everyone at Sacramento Wizard World, I hope everyone has a wonderful time.
JDF: Thank you, that was fun!
For more from JDF, you can check out his Facebook page, and watch My Morphing Life on CONtv.