Russ Bain (2015) #audio

By now I'm pretty sure everyone and their mother, including mine, has seen the new Power Rangers short. While most fans praised the alternate universe, there were a few folks that weren't too fond of Joseph Kahn's vision. I have a few minor gripes, but at the end of the day, I'm pleased to see someone finally take the bull by the horns and deliver the dark and gritty project everyone's been hankering for. So, when I had to chance to talk with one of the cast members, arguably the most important, I dropped everything, picked it back up and dropped it again. Because that's what a mere civilian does when Russ Bain, the new Green Ranger, agrees to talk to you.

Jessie Hobson: How were you approached for the short? Like, how did it begin as far as you getting into the picture?

Russ Bain: Well, Joesph and I had talked about doing a fairly ambitious short. We had talked about that for sometime. He was very keen to get something going. I guess the conversation started well over a year ago. He's very busy, I was busy and then eventually he came to me with this. At the time I didn't really even think about it too much as Power Rangers. I've known Joseph for quite sometime, I think, probably about nine years. So I had a personal relationship with him anyway. He had me read for it. It wasn't just a straight offer, there was other people considered, but he decided that I was his guy to do it.

JH: You did a great job by the way. I showed my mom earlier, and of course I grew up watching Power Rangers, but even my mother was impressed. She, like many others, wanted more when the credits rolled.

RB: (laughs) That's a good compliment because I showed it to my mother found it a bit gory and violent. To get a compliment from a mother that's the best source. They are the best critics.

JH: You mentioned Joseph, the director, earlier. Because of your relationship, was it different this time around or were things still all business?

RB: We did go through a casting process. There was a casting director attached to the project, a guy called David Kang. He did see people. I actually sat in on the casting a little bit. They weren't certain about who they would get for the project. The availability of actors changes all the time so there were a a little bit... kind of options open. Getting scheduling together for something like this is really difficult.

Right up until... even the first day of the shoot, I was actually shooting a TV show in Florida and flew straight from that, straight to the set in the middle of the desert. On the same day. It was literally... it was probably the most stressed I have ever been in my life, doing work. Because I knew Joseph had invested massively into setting this project up, and typically I had a completely free month. And I'm like yeah everything is fine, and then I booked this TV job, and I had to go and do that. Suddenly we got conflicts. It was right down to the wire. In terms of once I knew I was doing the job, then I was fully committed. We have a quite nice personal relationship, but at the end of the day, I've really learned that in this business, people think it's about who you know, but people want to work with people that they think are good as well... like if they are right for the role. If he didn't think I was right for the role I wouldn't have got it.

JH: Speaking of right for the role, are you familiar with Mortal Kombat at all?

RB: The computer game?

JH: Yes.

RB: (laughs) Yeah, I am. I played it as a kid, a lot actually.

JH: You would make a perfect Kano.

RB: Oh, really? (laughs)

JH: I don't know. I watched the short earlier and it just came to me. I don't know what it is. I think it has something to do with your accent or your swagger. It speaks Kano to me for some reason.

RB: I know who he is. I know exactly who you mean. And a bit of beard as well. (laughs)

JH: Were you familiar with the Power Ranger lore? Had you and your family watched it beforehand?

RB: I think I am just a bit beyond the age. I have nephews and I seem to remember them being really into it. I wish I could give a different answer, but my completely honest answer is that no... I wasn't into... I'm aware of Power Rangers obviously, but not at all. As a child, I was a real sports kid. I liked playing with a tennis racket and a soccer ball. Not in that kind of world at all. It has been really interesting reading and seeing how big the community is for this sort of thing. Going online, and going on twitter and seeing the response to it. It's amazing actually. I don't have any frame of reference in my mind.

JH: Yeah. Adi Shankar is saying he broke the internet. Did you think that this short would get this much attention and get so many people talking?

RB: No. I didn't. It's funny, I haven't been involved with anything that has been such a viral hit. Something that has had this amount of press. It was something that was spoken about on set, but I've lived in Hollywood for a few years now on and off, and I've grown quite accustomed to shutting out all of that talk. As an actor, it's a bit of a self preservation mechanism to not listen too much to all that and just wait and see what happens. There was a bit of talk obviously, about how big it was going to be and everyone was very excited about it. And obviously with Adi Shankar, the producer, and the stuff he had done before. When I looked him up and saw what kind of things he had been involved in, I thought well.. ya know.. okay this thing might be something but, as an actor, you do the job, you enjoy it and you try and keep out of the results. See what happens. Obviously, you get excited when it comes out, and you hope that something good will come from it. I certainly didn't anticipate... when I googled the project and it was written about in the newspaper that my parents read, The Telegraph in the UK, I was like wow... it's in The Telegraph. That was the kind of moment where I'm like... oh shit, this is going somewhere. Then I see people I used to know get in touch, and i'm like okay, people are seeing this. I'm not even on Facebook so I wasn't even aware that it was working it's way around Facebook.

JH: I actually live in Houston, and Jason David Frank, the original Green Ranger, lives in my area. So... speaking of the criticism, while much of the feedback has been positive, there has been some negative response as well. Frank and other former Rangers have made some less than stellar remarks towards the film.

RB: Yeah, I've heard. (laughs) I've seen it.

JH: Does that impact you at all? How do you handle the criticism?

RB: I have almost no reaction whatsoever. I have no emotional investment. People say whatever. I really enjoyed doing the job. We did it. It's exciting. The people that have enjoyed it seems to outweigh the people that criticized it, and you can't please everyone. You don't make these things hoping that everyone is going to be happy, you make these things hoping some people will be happy. But yeah, I'm not aware of the previous Power Rangers stuff. People are very protective of their work... and fair enough.

JH: I understand how some people could be irritated. You kind of became the Wolverine of the Power Rangers, and that's not something that everyone gets to do. It was different take, and I think that is what a lot of people are connecting to. It was something the fans have been wanting, it was different and for the most part... it worked.

RB: It's definitely a much grittier and adult version, obviously. The direct comparisons are inevitable. I mean, you're comparing two very different takes. The comparisons don't necessarily stand up. I'm really happy with it. Maybe [Frank] will grow to like it.

JH: Since being published it appears that Vimeo has now removed the short because of threats from Saban. Your director isn't happy. Do you feel that the right to free speech is being violated?

RB: No. I don't. I don't feel qualified to comment on that. That's something I don't know the legal ins and outs of it. My understanding is that there hasn't been a breach of copyright rule or anything like that. I'm certainly no expert in that area.

JH: Will it affect you continuing to post videos there? I had noticed that you had your reel up on there.

RB: Yeah, that's a good point. (laughs) No. I use Vimeo as a service to upload my audition tapes and things. They do a pretty good job of that. I quite like using it. I haven't thought about boycotting it, and I probably won't. (laughs)

JH: Now that the dust has somewhat settled, if you were approached to play the Green Ranger for a full length film, would you take it?

RB: Yes. (laughs) No doubt.

JH: I think that's what a lot of people want, and if my mom can give you the stamp of approval then... I mean...

RB: (laughs) There is no better stamp of approval than the mom's stamp of approval. As an actor, these are the kind of roles that you want to do. It's exciting and it's fun. I mean, you've seen it. There's guns, there's fight scenes and swords. Who wouldn't enjoy doing that?

JH: What's next for Russ Bain?

RB: Right now I am auditioning in L.A. and I'm hoping that something will come up soon enough, but I have no idea. Directly, right now, I am work on the Game of Thrones video game and in March I have a film being released called Residue. It will be released on Netflix in the US and the UK. It's a UK film. It's like a post apocalyptic... thriller, drama. It has people from Game of Thrones in it, and it has a really strong cast. I'm quite excited about that. I did a role in a mini-series called Tut which has Ben Kingsley in it, amongst others. It was filmed in Morocco. That comes out probably towards the end of 2015, I think. So, that's what I worked on and that's what will be coming out this year. Apart from that, just carry on doing what we do, and wait and see what happens.

JH: Is there anything else you'd like to mention that might be a bit more under the radar?

RB: I am working on something. I don't want to say too much about it, but it's with an actor called Richard Brake that I actually met working on a Joseph Kahn project. Him and I are kind of collaborating on a project together. He's a guy that's worked with Rob Zombie and things in the horror genre. Richard and I are working on something that we're probably going to shoot this summer, but it probably best to not say any more than that because I don't like to jinx it.

So, there you have it, folks. Whether, you like the new film or not, we can all agree that Russ Bain is a true bad-ass. Not only is he a Power Ranger, but he's also one of the main playable characters in the Game of Thrones games. Don't even get me started on that time Britney Spears pointed a gun at him. I'm way off base. So, if you'd like to see what Russ is up to, follow him on twitter, or you could just ask me... because we're friends now, but don't ask him to prove that to you.