Original red Power Ranger praises new Aussie star
AUSTIN St John, the original red Power Ranger, is full of praise for the Aussie actor who has inherited his role.
Perth native Dacre Montgomery stars as Jason/the Red Ranger in Lionsgate's big-screen remake of the iconic '90s TV series which launched St John's screen career.
"It was definitely something for me to take in, that I've got another guy playing me," he said.
"Dacre's a great guy. He brought his leadership and his own special take on the Red Ranger to the role. I was proud of him. The other cast members did great too. One of the hardest roles for me to accept was Trini's role because Thuy (Trang, the original Yellow Ranger) is gone now. It would be tough for me to see anybody in that role.
"Elizabeth Banks is a serious upgrade on the Rita (Repulsa) I got to battle with."
St John said the new film, which has received mostly negative reviews, symbolises the Power Rangers' ongoing appeal to audiences.
"It's an incredible compliment to have done something that was great enough to be recreated 23 years later; as an actor that's a hell of a compliment, especially considering how cheesy our show was," St John said.
"Our show didn't have racial, gender, or sexual boundaries. There were no barriers to being a hero. We lit up the imaginations of kids who are now parents themselves who come to see me (with their kids). The level of nostalgia is insane."
St John is in the country to meet fans at the Supanova Pop Culture Expo on the Gold Coast.
He first visited Australia with Supanova two and a half years ago, shortly after he started appearing at conventions with other original Power Rangers cast members.
"I love chatting with my fan base out there because I don't get as much time in Australia as I do in the US, UK and Canada," he says.
"I'm planning on going free diving off of the Great Barrier Reef to see what I can find out there."
After he left Mighty Morphin Power Rangers series, because of a pay dispute, St John became a medic and served in the Middle East.
"I travelled for a while and taught marital arts before I finally settled and went to college. I was bartending at nights to pay my bills, and one of my buddies came in and said 'You would love this fire-fighting thing'," he said.
"I started as an EMT, then I got more training and pretty soon I was at command level in operations. Now 16 years later, after 12 years in the Washington DC area and four years in the Middle East, I'm retired and back producing films and choosing who I want to work with."
The 41-year-old currently has half a dozen film and TV projects on the go, including a thriller, a wartime drama and a kung fu film about a 'black James Bond-type'.
"Once you can get your ego out of the way and realise you can work at your own pace, there's no other way of going about it," he said.
The Supanova Pop Culture Expo is on at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre from April 21 to 23.