SALT LAKE CITY — Jason David Frank’s schedule is go, go, go.
It helps that he’s a Power Ranger.
Frank, who will be in Salt Lake City for the FanX Salt Lake Comic Convention Sept. 6-8, is well-known to many '90s kids as Tommy Oliver, the original Green Power Ranger from “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.”
But Frank, unlike several of his colleagues, never forgot the franchise. He stayed involved for subsequent series — “Power Rangers Zeo” and “Power Rangers Turbo” — and returned, years later, as Dr. Tommy Oliver for “Power Rangers Dino Thunder.”
Although he had a brief stint in the mixed martial arts circuit — he has even called out former WWE wrestler CM Punk for a fight — Frank has returned again and again to the “Power Rangers” franchise. He helped promote a new comic book series, which stars the evil Lord Drakkon, an alt-universe version of Tommy. He has appeared on multiple reunion episodes for “Power Rangers.”
Oh, and he is set to appear on the 25th-anniversary episode on “Power Rangers Ninja Steel,” Tuesday, Aug. 28, on Nickelodeon.
But that’s not Frank's entire resume. He depicted the character Bloodshot from the "Ninjak vs. the Valiant Universe" series and he’s appeared in a few independent films, too.
And it won’t end there. Frank wants to see his Tommy character in a dark, original TV series (though still rated PG, he said). In fact, he'll do just about anything to make sure his beloved “Power Rangers” have a long future.
And everything he does, he said, is for the fans.
We spoke with Frank in a phone interview ahead of his FanX appearance. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Deseret News: This isn't your first time coming to Salt Lake; you’ve come to Salt Lake City for conventions before. What’s your experience been like here? What have you liked about Salt Lake City?
Jason David Frank: I've been going to Salt Lake for a while. I'm an instructor for fun up at iFly (an indoor skydividng company).
… Great people. Great city. It's been a really good experience for me down there.
It's important that when I do a show that the fans leave happy. … I'm there to cater to the fans, and that's what I like about it. You can have a great experience at a booth, but if you don't have a good experience overall at a show, you're not going to have a great experience (at a booth). So I try.
DN: You were involved with "Power Rangers" for many years. How would you describe your career arc? What’s it been like to come back to “Power Rangers” after taking a break?
JDF: I took a break after “Turbo.” It was just one of those things that I wanted to do as an actor and you know just took a break and went back and did “Dino Thunder” as a favor for two of my producers that wanted me to come back to pick up ratings. I picked up ratings a bit and “Power Rangers” took a slump at one point and I just stayed with it.
I embraced who I was — I was happy who I was.
I have some martial art schools, and we do so well that I don't even need to work anymore. When I did New York Comic Con, I paid my own way for everything and just pretty much begged these people just to be there for an hour just so I could say hi to my fans and spend time with them.
The key is feeling like you owe the fans versus actors (who) feel like the fans owe them. That's the difference where you're going to be in life.
… I just stayed consistent in the brand. I believed in it. I was the only one that went back for “Dino Thunder.” I was the only one to keep promoting it when the brand was down.
I'll be 45 soon. Hopefully, I will (continue to) fit in spandex and be happy who I am. But there's a time where Tommy needs to go like the old man in "Logan." And the cool thing about me: I don't hold on to no past, man, the past has held on to me.
But to be honest, I'm just doing this for fun. I mean, I fight for fun. I do movies for fun.
… I think if you look at life as "follow your passion," you know, there's a purpose. There's purpose, there's passion. And then later on comes the profit. … But you gotta have those two ingredients in order to make a good recipe.
JDF: I’m just trying to be consistent and not saying, “I turn this down because it wasn't enough money,” or not saying, “Well I'm not coming to this comic con because I'm not getting paid enough.” I can eliminate all that (with) no appearance fees.
I do things because I like to do (them) and that's how I kind of live my life. I jump out of airplanes because I like it. I jump helicopters, I jump bridges. These are things that I like to do. No one's forced me to do (them).
DN: Were there any storylines on “Power Rangers” you wanted to do but never did?
JDF: No. We kind of follow the Japanese footage, you know what I mean, follow the storylines. But I will say, to go back to this reunion episode, I had a checklist of stuff that I needed to make sure was in the episode. I know what our fans like and what they want to see, so I had a checklist, a long checklist of "this needs to be in, that needs to be in, this needs to be in." … I reached about 90 percent of it. I think this anniversary episode is really going to be good for people on Aug. 28. I cared about it.
I think you are really going to be happy.
DN: You made a cameo appearance in the new “Power Rangers” movie. There’s a tease at the end for a new Tommy Oliver. How do you feel about that?
JDF: I'm fine with that, man. My focus really is on a prime-time show. That's where my focus is. I'm focused on where Tommy is now and not a young Tommy, you know. I think they have to stick to the movie version of it. They can't change it unless they do. I don't know much about that, the whole movie brand.
But I do know where I want to take the series: … a “Green Ranger” show. A darker one, you know, like a “Daredevil." … Although, not rated R. PG if we can get away with it. Like Drakkon — exactly like Drakkon was. That's what I like to do for my fan base, so my eyes are on something else right now.
DN: “Power Rangers” clearly leans toward family values. Is that why you did the show?
JDF: I've been in martial arts my whole life. Same values ever since I was a kid so to reinforce those values on the show — to reach millions of people around the world — that's what I'm excited about. I'm the only Power Ranger out there that really owns a martial arts school, you know. From day one until now, those are the values that I preach to my kids and those are the values I thought (were) great to add to the show. The show was already there so I was just able to influence millions around the world and I still do.
DN: Thanks again for chatting with us. Is there anything else you want people to know?
JDF: I always do these interviews to let people know that the relationship doesn't end (with the show). I try to tell people I look at everything. Tag me, tell me your stories, inbox me. I try to spend a lot of time on social media … but it's also good for (us) to hear, “I was a big fan of yours.”
… I want to make sure ("Power Rangers") will be something that people can remember forever.