‘Power Rangers’ star RJ Cyler talks about playing a character on the Autism spectrum
One of the promising aspects of the new Power Rangers movie is just how dedicated the film is to providing a diverse ensemble amongst its eponymous Rangers. For instance, the Yellow Ranger Trini, played by Becky G, will be the first queer superhero on the big screen. Though the scene itself is understated, it's ultimately a groundbreaking moment for one of the Hollywood's most popular film genres.
Similarly, Power Rangers is also introducing a character on the Autism spectrum in the Blue Ranger Billy, played by RJ Cyler. In an interview with Mic, Cyler said he knew his character would be on the spectrum when he signed onto the film.
"I got excited," he explained, when asked how he reacted to the news. "It was good to be able to see life through a different viewpoint, because we see life through our eyes and so we feel like we have everything understood, but that's just through our imagination. Being able to just bring that type of aspect to Billy, man, it was just exciting, and it was such an honor to be able to represent such an amazing group of people."
It's also an important fabric of the Power Rangers story, which hinges on the characters being able to "morph" into their Ranger suits in order to defeat Rita Repulsa. However, before they're able to morph, they need to form a strong bond with one another. Opening up about their problems — be it Billy being ostracized at school for being on the spectrum, or Trini's parents not understanding who she is — puts the teenagers, as well as mature issues, in the deserved spotlight. That's certainly more relatable than the third act sky beams we're used to seeing in most superhero films.
Power Rangers arrives in theaters Friday. You can check out Mic's exclusive Facebook Live interview with Power Rangers actors RJ Cyler, Becky G and Dacre Montgomery below.
Mic has ongoing Power Rangers coverage. Check out our main Power Rangers hub here.