Five Behind-The-Scenes Stories From “Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers: The Movie”

(via Karan Ashley’s fan page)

 By Greg Gonsky

1. Mariska Hargitay played Dulcea at one point

Fans remember Dulcea, the master warrior of the planet Phaedos, as a wise, scantily clad butt-kicker played by Gabrielle Fitzpatrick. But some don’t know that Law & Order: SVU star Mariska Hargitay originally filmed scenes as the character. “She came in after I got sick,” Fitzpatrick said, in an interview with No Pink Spandex.

Fitzpatrick landed the role after FOX launched worldwide auditions.  During rehearsals, the then 27-year-old Australian actress collapsed after doing a choreography move. “I fell down in pain. Everybody [gasped] around the room,” she said. Doctors diagnosed Fitzpatrick with a cystic ovary. “It was big enough to stop me from working because it was painful,” she said.

As a result, producers cast the then 30-year-old daughter of former actress/sex symbol Jayne Mansfield. According to Fitzpatrick, filming resumed for five months. It was then that the sidelined actress received an unexpected call. “They came back and asked me to come back in and reshoot everything she did,” Fitzpatrick said, “So I was really happy.” Even though FOX fired Hargitay, whose credits at the time included mostly television guest spots, five years later she landed an iconic role as NYPD Det. Olivia Benson.

Mariska Hargitay as Dulcea (via HenshinGrid)
Gabrielle Fitzpatrick as Dulcea (via Ranger Wiki)

2. The “I’m a Frog” bit was Johnny Yong Bosch’s idea

There is a saying that art imitates life. That was exactly the case for actor Johnny Yong Bosch (Adam) and his character’s signature line, “I’m a frog!” Bosch told guests of 2016’s Power Morphicon convention that the bit was not planned. “It was originally scripted  [that Dulcea] explains who [everyone’s spirit animal] is, and then they got to me. [The frog] had something to do with speed,” Bosch said.

To showcase Adam’s speed, another sequence saw the character attempting to catch flies with chopsticks. Unable to do so, Adam takes out his blaster gun and shoots the flies. “Originally, that’s what it was in the script,” Bosch said, “That stuff was all cut out of the film—me being fast.”

According to Bosch, the filmmakers cut additional action sequences involving Adam from the script and gave them to other Rangers. The reason, he said, was seniority. When it came time to film the scene where Dulcea explains each Rangers’ spirit animal power, a disappointed Bosch had an idea. “I asked the director, ‘Can I just be bummed out about getting the frog? They’re not really that fast!'” he explained, “And [Bryan Spicer, the director] said let’s just do it like the script, and then maybe we can play around with that.”

For Bosch, the suggestion paid off, as Adam receives the only kiss, on the forehead, in the entire film.

3. Jason David Frank accidentally knocked a stuntman unconscious

Part of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers’ cool-factor was the fact that its cast members did most of their own stunts. Actor Karan Ashley (Aisha) told a London comic-con panel that each cast member had a background in either martial arts, gymnastics, or in dance.

At Alamo City Comic-Con, actor Steve Cardenas (Rocky) recalled one instance where Jason David Frank (Tommy) kicked a stuntman too hard, by mistake. “[The stuntman] was one of the Tengu Warriors, the birds,” Cardenas said, “The birds were flying in, so they had these stunt guys on wires. This guy’s flying in face first and Jason Frank’s throwing this kick. The guy’s supposed to fly back.”

However, the wire attachment prevented the stuntman to fly back far enough. According to Cardenas, he insisted Frank deliver a hard kick. “He was like, ‘No, mate, you got to kick me harder! You got to kick me harder!’ Jason was like, ‘You don’t want me to do that, man!’ Cardenas said, laughing.

Despite Frank’s additional warnings, the actor finally agreed to kick the stuntman several takes later. After Frank delivered the kick, director Bryan Spicer called for a cut. Crew members then began removing the stuntmen from the wires. It was then that Cardenas noticed the one stuntman hanging unconscious. “I felt so bad for that guy!” Cardenas said, “You do not know what you’re asking for to have Jason Frank kick you.”

Steve Cardenas mimics the unconscious stuntman’s posture (via YouTube)

4. Jason David Frank injured himself doing backflips

Not only did Jason David Frank injure a stuntman, but he also injured himself. Actor David Yost (Billy) revealed the accident during the same Alamo City panel. “[He] ran up a tree, right before we started filming the movie, and did a backflip off a tree and just smashed his face,” he said.

Johnny Yong Bosch witnessed the incident up close. He recounted the story at Power Morphicon. “We’re doing backflips off the tree. He would run, and take three steps [up the tree], and he’d backflip off. I’d be there to spot him,” he said.

The actors took turns backflipping off the palm tree and spotting one another. At one point, Frank decided to push his limits. “This one time, he’s running towards me, and he’s like, ‘I’m gonna keep going!'” Bosch said.

Bosch had no idea what Frank meant until he saw it happen. “I count his steps… one, two, three… I put my hand [out] …four, five and a half-ish… and I look up, and I was like, ‘Oh! He meant he was going to keep running up the tree!'” he explained.

The next thing Bosch knew, Frank was falling towards him head first. “I did what any one of you would have done: I moved!” he said, laughing. “He blamed me for that. He still blames me for that!”

According to Yost, Frank’s face was the casualty. “For the first part of the movie, his face has scabs all over it. You can’t tell, but we knew,” Yost said.

Johnny Yong Bosch reenacts watching Jason David Frank fall (via YouTube)

5. Karan Ashley threw up while filming part of the skydiving sequence

With an estimated $15-million budget, according to IMDB, the film opens with a skydiving sequence.  This painted the six characters as possibly the coolest, most badass teenagers to ever grace the big screen. They were no longer just teenagers with attitude. Now, they were teenagers with altitude.

At conventions across the world, fans routinely ask the actors if they actually skydove. Truthfully, the sequence combines second-unit footage of trained skydivers with footage of the actors simulating the free-fall, according to Johnny Yong Bosch at Power Morphicon. “We jumped out [of a fake plane] 20-feet into mats,” he said, “And then they had us wired up like 60-feet.”

While filming the latter inserts, Karan Ashley experienced her “least favorite scene to shoot”. “We were doing what they call green screen,” she said, during a London comic-con panel, “We would flip, flip, flip, and then pose for the camera, and then flip, flip, flip, and [pose].”

According to Ashley, she was the final actor to shoot these bits. The filmmakers decided to hold off on her shots until after a dinner break. Around thirty minutes later, the crew suspended Ashley into the air. She completed her first set of flips and then balanced for her close-ups. After the next set of flips, she quickly fell ill. “They had to cover the camera, and it took them another 15 minutes to get me down,” she said, “So I just violently threw up for 15 minutes.”

Karan Ashley mimes falling ill (via YouTube)
David Yost films his skydiving close-ups (via David Yost’s fan page)

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