Becky G and RJ Cyler bring to life very different versions of the classic Mighty Morphin Power Rangers characters Kimberly (Pink Ranger) and Zack (Blue Ranger) in Lionsgate feature film reboot, Saban’s Power Rangers. They join the all-new cast alongside Naomi Scott, Dacre Montgomery, and Ludi Lin play the Pink Ranger, Red Ranger, and Black Ranger, respectively.
Screen Rant had the opportunity to chat with Becky and RJ about Power Rangers and playing characters that help embrace the film’s representation of diversity and theme of the story that “together we are more” (something Naomi Scott championed in our exclusive Twitter Q&A a few weeks back!). Our conversation touches on how the movie was made, RJ playing Billy on the Spectrum, and Becky G bringing personal experience into a character who’s an “outsider.”
I’m a huge Power Rangers fan, to the point where my phone case is some obscure Power Ranger . . .
Becky G and RJ Cyler: Ohhh.
RJ Cyler: There it is!
Becky G: That’s cool!
The Phantom Ranger. So I want to thank you guys, this movie was amazing.
Becky and RJ: Thank you so much.
RJ, you are, you’re the heart and soul of the team as Billy…
RJ Cyler: Yeah.
You played Billy on the spectrum, which I thought was awesome.
RJ Cyler: Thank you.
What else did you want to incorporate into that character that hasn’t previously been seen yet?
RJ Cyler: I just wanted to show a different, a different like viewpoint of people that are seen as being on the spectrum, right? Or people diagnosed with Autism, cause it’s like I feel like us being outsiders looking in and I take that, I cast my own stone when I say that, cause there’s a lot that I didn’t know before.
I actually sat down and shut my mouth and actually just listened and you know, accepted every, every bit of information with no judgement or no, ya know, RJ thought of how it was
It was like, taking it on, I knew that it was my job to show, you know, that people that are on the spectrum are just regular people, literally, just how we talk, how me and Becky talk, they feel the same way, they have the same emotions, they wanna be loved, that want people to love, they want relationships they want, you know, connections, and it’s just like, I was, I was really excited to be able to play that cause I know it means so much to so many people, cause all of us are affected by it.
RJ Cyler: you know, and it’s something I feel like we needed to have in this movie to be honest.
Becky G: Yeah.
RJ Cyler: Yeah.
Great. You know Becky, you and I also grew up in the same neighborhood, I’m also from Inglewood.
Becky G: No way!! Hey, Inglewood!!
RJ Cyler: Ohhh.
I didn’t go to Inglewood High, I went to Venice.
Becky G: Oh it’s all good, I went Home Schooled by that time, so I didn’t go to Inglewood High either.
RJ Cyler: Y’all moved and Home Schooled, oh goodness gracious.
One thing that I like about Trini is that she’s an outsider, how much of that is drawn from your personal experience?
Becky: To be honest, a lot. I think um, it was even eye opening for me, I discovered a lot about myself too, that maybe affected me growing up, that I didn’t realize helped me become the person that I am today. Growing up I was always very different. I was like the girl that was like the Social Butterfly and it was just so easy for me to just be loud and expressive and I realized that not a lot of people are like that.
And that actually made me the outsider, you would think, ‘oh the girl who just poppy and happy all the time and Iwas always just so sure of who I was and what I wanted to do with my life at a very young age; and it was at that age where everyone else doesn’t know yet, and everyone else is figuring it out, and they’re just doing what’s cool, and I was just doing what makes me happy; and that was music and that was acting, and helping my family more than anything, and so I’ll never forget, I was 9 years old when I started in the entertainment business, due to financial struggles with my family, um and the passion that I had for it, I just started working really young and um, I was balancing school at the same time.
Becky G: And you know, going to school in Inglewood, you know . . .
Becky G: And it’s not very common for people to be in the industry let alone for people to say it’s possible for you to be a super star
Becky G: To be on TV; and I was doing it, not on a major scale like this – Ha, look at me now!
Becky G: but, in a way that was taking me away from school a little bit, but I always was a straight A student, I was very good at you know, turning in school work, but the kids treated me differently and it was like ‘you think you’re better than us, you must have a lot of money’ and I’m like, ‘little do you know I’m actually broke as hell trying to help my family, we’re living in a garage right now, and it’s just my passion.’ Like it’s the same thing as another kid being part of the soccer club or another girl being part of the cheer team, you know? I guess the best way to explain it just to wrap this up, is like, I was in a classroom filled with monkeys and I was a fish and the lesson of the day was how to climb a tree. I know how to climb a tree, I just can’t do it, you know what I mean? I could tell the teacher this is how you do it.
And everyone else is climbing the tree and the teacher’s like ‘why aren’t you climbing the tree?’ And it’s like, ‘because I’m a good swimmer!’
RJ Cyler: [Laughs]
Becky G: I’m really good at swimming, why can’t I just swim? You know?
RJ Cyler: That’s awesome.
Becky G: And so, that’s, it’s being an outsider. It was just since I was very young.
RJ Cyler: ‘I’m a really good swimmer!’
Becky G: Yeah! That’s how I felt, it was very frustrating for me growing up.
That’s a great answer, by the way.
- Becky G: Thank you.
I’m gonna use it, I’m gonna steal that one.
Becky G: [Laughs]
How much did your characters evolve from when you initially got the role to what we ended up seeing on screen?
Becky G: Oooh, that’s good.
RJ Cyler: They literally evolved and grew as we filmed.
RJ Cyler: Cause it was like. . .
Becky G: Yeah.
RJ Cyler: A part of our character growth was in each other, ya know, and that was one thing as a cast that was really cool to feel, that it was certain parts in Billy that I couldn’t go without Dacre triggering it or Naomi triggering it, or Becky, ya know.
Becky G: That’s the thing about acting is that it’s reacting to what’s going on around you
RJ Cyler: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
So you guys had a lot of room to improvise with your characters.
Becky G: Yeah.
RJ Cyler: Yeah, Dean [Israelite] trusted us a lot
Becky G: A lot of the movie actually is like improvised and real.
RJ Cyler: Yeah, like the little thing with me and Ludi in the pool, when we were there and glowing
Becky G: Oh it’s my favorite color!
RJ Cyler: Yeah, Blue is my favorite color and then Ludi is like ‘I’m black!’ I looked up and was like, ‘wait, no you not!’
Becky G: [Laughs] it was so perfect!
RJ Cyler: At first we did it, we did it as a joke, me and Ludi, just bantering. . .
Becky G: And then Dean was like, ‘Again! Oh, that’s genius!’
RJ Cyler: That was good!
RJ Cyler: (As Dean) ‘RJ! RJ, do that line again with you and Ludi, one more time!’
Becky G: It was great.
RJ Cyler: It was just like, we had to create shots sometimes because it would be just gold that would pop out of Becky’s head or Naomi’s head or Dacre’s head . . .
Becky G: And we’d just go with it.
RJ Cyler: And they would have to film it, just like ‘That’s good!’
You guys have a sense of ownership of these characters now and your own renditions.
Becky G: For sure. Yeah. Well, I think what I like to say is that although the names sound familiar, you are meeting our characters for the first time. It’s a reimagination, you know?
I have to ask you (Becky) a question about Trini’s sexuality…
Becky G: Oh yes. . .
Now this is super cool for Power Rangers…
RJ Cyler: [Laughs]
Becky G: Oh my god, yes! Actually I get excited to talk about this.
For Power Rangers to go in that direction to me is really brave because it’s not a show that you would, or when I was a kid, or even now because I’ve watched it for the last 25 years, it’s not something you’d expect, so I think it’s really cool that that’s left ambiguous.
Becky G: Me too.
What are your thoughts on that?
Becky: My thoughts is Power Rangers has always represented diversity and they’re always been ahead of the curve on a lot of things and although it may be a touchy subject for some people, I think it’s done in a very classy way, and not only that, in a way that’s really real, because you don’t know, Trini doesn’t know herself, and it’s that moment where she says out loud, ‘I’ve never said any of this out loud’ and that line, where, you know, Zordon says ‘You must shed your masks to wear this armor.’ It’s true. People should accept themselves for who they really are and be proud of that and take ownership of that first and learn that self love to really be happy; and I think that’s why Trini never found her purpose just yet, until she met them and that’s why she never really learned to love herself, because she didn’t accept who she really is just yet, you know?
SABAN’S POWER RANGERS follows five ordinary high school kids who must become something extraordinary when they learn that their small town of Angel Grove – and the world – is on the verge of being obliterated by an alien threat. Chosen by destiny, our heroes quickly discover that they are the only ones who can save the planet. But to do so they will have to overcome their real-life issues and band together as the Power Rangers before it is too late.
Power Rangers movie cast features singer Becky G as Yellow Ranger Trini, Ludi Lin as Black Ranger Zack, Dacre Montgomery as Red Ranger Jason, Naomi Scott as Pink Ranger Kimberly, and RJ Cyler as Blue Ranger Billy, Elizabeth Banks as the villainous Rita Repulsa, Bryan Cranston as Zordon, and Bill Hader as the voice of Alpha 5.
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