For those who are unable to listen to our interview with Amy Jo Johnson (or just want to relive it in written form), here’s the transcript:
September 17, 2012
Episode 151: Interview with Amy Jo Johnson
Hosts: Lisa J, Tristan, Jeremy, and Spy
Lisa J: This is No Pink Spandex Episode 151 for Monday, September 17, 2012. Happy Birthday, NPS! Whoo hoo! Hello! Lisa J in the house with you guys, celebrating seven years of No Pink Spandex! I cannot believe that it has been that long but we’ve made it thus far and I hope to give you guys 7×7x7 – okay wait. 7×7x7 – That’s a long time. I will be with my cane and dentures…No, I don’t think y’all need that. Thank you guys so much for listening, for going on our website, for watching our videos. I really don’t have much more to say, other than “Thank you!” [For] you guys supporting us so much, we want to give you something very special. So I won’t waste any more time. Here you go. Remember, even after seven years, stay away from that spandex. It doesn’t breathe! Peace.
Lisa J: Hello everyone, Lisa J here with another episode, and this is not just another episode. Let’s be real. I’ve got my guys – Jeremy, Tristan, Spy. Say, “What’s up.”
Jeremy, Tristan, Spy: What’s up!
Lisa J: And we’re all here because today we have a very special guest. She has been on numerous shows. She’s been on Felicity, The Division, Wildfire. Currently on Flashpoint. And of course, you know her as our beloved Pink Ranger, Kimberly, from Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Please welcome Amy Jo Johnson! Hey, Amy!
Lisa J: Now, before I begin, do I call you “Amy”? Do I call you “Amy Jo”?
AJJ: You can just call me “Amy” or “Amy Jo”. A lot of my friends call me “AJ”.
Lisa J: Aha! So, we’ll gradually become friends and I can call you “AJ”. We’ll get there.
AJJ: My best friend calls me “A”.
Lisa J: Oh, “A”! Because, the Canadians…
Jeremy: It gets shorter and shorter!
AJJ: Exactly [laughs].
Lisa J: So, Amy, welcome to the show!
AJJ: Thank you!
Lisa J: So, let’s start out from the — okay, not the very beginning, because that’s, like, the womb – we’ll start a little later than that! What kind of kid were you? I always ask my guests this. What kind of child were you?
AJJ: I think I was a bit of a daydreamer. I lived in my head a lot and I was also incredibly rebellious. [Laughs] I got kicked out of private school.
Lisa J: Oh, really?
AJJ: Yeah, I did.
Spy: What were you doing?
Lisa J: How come?
AJJ: It was a Fundamentalist Baptist Church school and I just –- it just wasn’t for me. [Laughs]
Lisa J: Fundamentals!
AJJ: [Laughs] You know, it worked for some people! But for me, it just wasn’t…I don’t know. Anyway! When I wasseven years old I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to be a performer at some point in my life. So I think I spent my teenage years sort of daydreaming about moving to New York and just leaving the small town that I had grown up in. And I did! As soon as I graduated I went straight to New York.
Lisa J: You also got into gymnastics at a young age, correct?
AJJ: Oh, yeah! That was probably — The way that I spent most of my time was at the gym doing gymnastics. I mean, I loved it. It was probably one of the biggest parts of my life growing up, for sure.
Lisa J: And you tried out for the Olympics?
AJJ: No. No, I never got that far, but the gym that I grew up in was this amazing place called Cape Code Gymnastics and the women who owned it and ran it were just awesome. They had us sell candy bars to go to Europe. So, I went to Europe three times as a kid, just traveling all over different countries and competing. It was just a really awesome place to just see the world with a bunch of girlfriends. It was fantastic.
Lisa J: So how come — I read that you got an injury and that’s why you had to stop. Is that true?
AJJ: Well, when I was about ten years old — Actually, before I was ten I was completely fearless, and I would do anything especially [with] the coach I had. His name was Ken Haas. Actually, I’ve been Twittering a lot about him and his daughter, [who] I’ve been trying to help.
Lisa J: Oh, Lexi!
AJJ: Lexi, yeah. He was my coach and he was amazing. And then he decided to leave and go become a chiropractor. After he left, for some reason, I had hurt my arm or something, and I just got a lot of fear. Like, I became a real chicken. I just sort of leveled off at that point. When I was ten, I sort of hit my peak and I then stayed in the sport until I was sixteen. And then finally, at sixteen, was just like, “You know what? I think I’d rather go flirt with boys.” [Laughs] “And get kicked out of private school than be at the gym anymore.” So I left gymnastics when I was sixteen.
Lisa J: Oh, okay. When did you move to New York?
AJJ: When I was nineteen. So, I graduated from high school; I spent a year on Cape Cod just working and saving money, and then the following year, I auditioned for AMDA, American Musical and Dramatic Academy. I went to New York to go to school there.
Lisa J: What was that experience like?
AJJ: That was amazing, too! But I found out at that time that I had stage fright.
Lisa J: Oh, really?
AJJ: I did! [Laughs] I was really quite petrified as soon as I got on stage. They didn’t ask me back the second year because, again, I skipped way too many classes [Laughs]. Like, New York’s pretty, are you kidding?! And I think the stage fright had something to do with it, so I ended up going to Lee Strasberg for about six months. And then a guy that I had met, who was my boyfriend, was moving to Los Angeles so I decided to join him. So I moved out to L.A., as well, that January. So, I spent about a year and a half in New York and then went to California.
Lisa J: So, you went to California and I read that in the first month that you were out there, it’s like, “Oh, there’s this audition. Eh, Power Rangers. Meh, let me go for it.” Is that true? It was a month that you were there and then you got the show?
AJJ: Nope. I got there in January. So, I spent six month just diving into classes and doing some student films. And I did this one acting class with this woman, Katy Wallin. She was also a casting director. So that summer – so, I was there about six months — she was casting Power Rangers in her office. She called me and said, “Why don’t you come in?” So I went in and I got the job. I actually had just… [I was] a little discouraged, a little lonely. The boyfriend I had, we broke up. He had moved back to Texas and I was on my way, moving home. Like, I was done. I was going to go back, maybe to New York or something.
Lisa J: Really?
AJJ: Yeah, so I had actually, basically, sold everything and was moving back home. But the night before I was moving, I met this man named Walter Rainey, who ended up being my acting coach for about ten years after that and helped me get through my stage fright. I met him at the Hollywood Diner, which doesn’t exist anymore, and he encouraged me to stay. So, I stayed and I went home for about two weeks. He called my parents — my dad and my mom — and was like, “She really should come back.” So, I went back and, actually, that week [when] I got back was when I got the audition for Power Rangers.
AJJ: Yeah, so it worked out! [Laughs]
Lisa J: So what was the audition process like?
AJJ: I think I went through about – I don’t really remember – but I think about eight auditions?
Lisa J: Eight?
AJJ: It was a lot! I remember there were a ton of kids and they sort of narrowed us down to five different groups, like me and David Yost and… Thuy wasn’t with us at that point, it was a different girl.
Lisa J: Right. Audri DuBois.
AJJ: Audri, yeah. And then, Walter and… Jason. Not Frank, but the other guy.
Lisa J: Yeah, Austin St. John.
AJJ: Yeah! His name was Jason at the time.
Lisa J: Right, right.
AJJ: So they paired us together. There [were] about five other groups auditioning, going through the same audition process. So we got really close, hanging out, and just sort of preparing for the auditions. And our group ended up getting it, which was really cool.
Spy: So they never mixed and matched each group? It was just going to be one of the groups that they put together?
AJJ: Yeah, for some reason. I don’t know how that worked or what their logic was, but then they ended up replacing Audri with Thuy. So, that was the only shift within the group. You know, in the beginning process they might have paired us up in different things, but I don’t really remember that. I remember just right off the bat being with David and Walter and everybody.
Lisa J: You know, Power Morphicon is the big Power Rangers convention (and I believe it was at the first one), and Tony Oliver had you guys, not necessarily audition tapes, but you where you would do a monologue. We saw you do your monologue.
Lisa J: Yeah!
AJJ: Oh my gosh!
Lisa J: Not only did we see you guys, but we saw the runners-up.
Lisa J: And, child…They made the right decision! [Laughs]
AJJ: Oh, good!
Lisa J: Especially the runner-up for Zack! I’m like, “Whew!” That was rough. That was rough.
AJJ: Okay, good! It all worked out.
Lisa J: It did work out. So, you booked the show. Tell me your first memories being on set.
AJJ: Okay, so…It was Dino Rangers at the time, when the show just started, before they changed the name to Power Rangers. So we got the show in September and we filmed pretty much all year. I don’t know, like six months or so. But, anyway, it didn’t air until the following September. But, I remember shooting out in the desert and I remember just feeling really lucky to be working, you know? Because I know that it takes years sometimes… or some people never work, whatever. So I remember just feeling really blessed that I was doing this show.
So then it didn’t air until the following September, which was sort of a shock, and kind of crazy, because we didn’t know how popular it was going to be. And they had this thing at the Universal Amphitheater. I think it aired the week before we were going to do this [Universal Amphitheater] show, like three shows that day, because it held 7,000 people or something. We go, pulling in, and…Oh my God, I’d never seen so many people. We were like, “What is happening?”
So we went and did the show. We had to jump out on the stage and lift our helmets off and people were screaming like we were rock stars. I remember just screaming into my microphone and going, “Whoo hoo!” running on the stage. People in the back were like, “Please don’t scream into the microphone; you’re hurting people’s ears.” I’m like, “Oh my god! I’m so sorry; I’ve never done this before!” I was so green, right?
Then I went home that night and I had horrible, horrible, horrible nightmares. It was so overwhelming. It was too much! All of a sudden, it was like, a massive amount of people screaming your name. It was too much for me. I went home and had horrible nightmares. And then after the show aired, it just kind of went crazy, right?
Lisa J: Yeah, it was crazy.
AJJ: Yeah! And another funny thing that happened, in hindsight — at the time, it wasn’t so funny — we went to Hawaii. Did you ever hear about this trip? That we all went to Hawaii?
Lisa J: No…
AJJ: Okay, so they fly us all into Hawaii for an appearance of some sort. I don’t know what we were doing, but…so we land in Hawaii — it might have been a year after [the show premiered]? Maybe six months? There was no security and there [were], like, ten thousand people at the airport!
Lisa J: Shut the front door!
Jeremy: Oh, no.
AJJ: It was so scary! I just remember standing behind Jason Frank — so it must have been a year later, because he came on [the show ] later — and we’re walking through…and, you know how they put leis on you?
AJJ: Okay. We all almost were lei’d to death.
AJJ: They put so many flowers on us! I couldn’t breathe; I started hyperventilating! I look and Jason turns around to look at me. He has so many flowers…all you can see are his eyes! [Laughs] It was so crazy! And my boyfriend at the time was with me, and he was trying to keep people back, and was pushing us through the crowd. Anyway, we got out the front door, we got in the limo, and we’re just driving away, and turning around and looking back. Jason, of course, is hanging out the roof, screaming. There was just a sea of people! It was very overwhelming. But it’s a very funny story in hindsight! [Laughs]
Tristan: Wow, it sounds scary.
AJJ: It was! They had absolutely no security; it was so weird! Because they didn’t expect that. They didn’t expect there to be so many people.
Lisa J: That reminds me…because the show started and it was a huge success…and some cast members, maybe who didn’t work with you, but [in] seasons after…some of them were like, “We’ve never seen Haim Saban. I know what he looks like, but I’ve never met him.” Do you know what was his reaction to you guys?
AJJ: I don’t know. You know what, we spent a lot of time with Shuki Levy. We spent a fair bit of time with Haim in that first year when they were creating [the show]. I think, obviously, they were pleasantly surprised. I mean, we were a non-union show. Literally, we were being paid, I think, tops $600 a week. No residuals; absolutely not one residual. I don’t know if you know what that means, but you know when they air the shows right now, with the shows that I — ?
Lisa J: Right. The re-runs, yeah.
AJJ: Yeah, that first generation [with] the original cast…nothing. Zero. It became union, I think, maybe three years after I left? I’m not sure at what point.
Lisa J: Yeah. I forgot what season, but it did become union.
AJJ: At some point, yeah. So they get compensated, but of course they play the original ones most of the time anyway! [Laughs]
Lisa J: Wow. Six hundred dollars a week?!
AJJ: I think it was around there! It was like that and we were doing two episodes a week. [Laughs] I don’t remember; I can probably find an old pay stub, but it was nothing! We had no agents. I had no agent at all! But! At the same time, it was an amazing training ground. It taught me so much. I went through learning how to be on a set, deal with the crew, stop looking in the mirror. I learned that real quick. Like, there’s a hair and make-up person, they’ll take care of that. You don’t need to be looking in your mirror and looking at what you look like. All these little things — hitting a mark. It was like school.
I think the frustrating thing for me — not frustrating, but nerve-racking – that, it was school and we weren’t hugely compensated. And it became so popular that …that’s what gave me nightmares. It was sort of overwhelming, you know? Like, if that show stopped tomorrow I’m going to have to go down the street and become a waitress again. But at that time, it was so popular. The kids who loved the show were awesome. That was amazing to have that fanbase. But it also brought in a fanbase that wasn’t kids, like men. A lot of people in prison!
NPS: Oh, wow!
AJJ: Seriously! It brought in this really crazy, strange fanbase as well along with the amazing people and the amazing kids. People ask me why I don’t go to the Morphicon or these types of things and I couldn’t. I didn’t all through the 90s because of this, because it really frightened me.
Lisa J: So you’re saying that you didn’t go to different conventions because you felt overwhelmed and you would literally get nightmares by being overwhelmed?
AJJ: Yeah. And not only just because of my brain being afraid of it, but there were a few certain instances during the 90s and – knock on wood that those people are gone – that were very dangerous and were sort of stalking a little bit and…Anyway, situations that I don’t need to tell you all about, but they frightened me.
Lisa J: Yeah, and I think a lot people don’t realize….Of course, comparing myself to you is ridiculous, but being a woman out in the public, it’s a little different from men. Yeah, you have people who like and appreciate what you do, but then you also [have] those “people” who are very eager and very determined. So, maybe people forget that, for women, it’s a little harder, you know what I mean?
AJJ: I think so. And I think with the type of show that it is…I mean, every show breeds a different fanbase. It just does, naturally, you know what I mean? That show, besides the children now [who] are grown up like you guys, there were also other people. You know what I mean? It bred a whole array of different type of fan. So yeah, being a woman and feeling vulnerable made me a bit nervous to put myself out there like that.
Tristan: Do you mind if I ask if you still feel that way? Or has it kind of receded a little?
AJJ: I think because of the other projects I’ve done through the years, that – like I said, each show does breed a different type of fanbase – that I think I’ve found people who follow my career, who understand me a bit more than just being a Power Ranger. So, there’s more respect there. I don’t put myself out there per se in the way that, maybe, some other people do because I’ve never wanted to be really, really, really famous because it just scares the crap out of me. So I keep it intimate! Like, you guys went to my show in Cape Cod. I put it on Twitter and stuff, but I think the people who are actually going to show up are going to…
Tristan: People who care.
AJJ: Like you guys, you came a long way to go to that show, and I thought that was awesome! So, every situation is different and I have to look in my heart, and my gut, and my instincts and see “Okay, how do I feel? Do I want to do this? Do I not want to do this?”
Lisa J: The good thing about Power Rangers fans is that – yes, we were young, wee little ones – but then, you grow up with somebody and not only do you grow up with them, literally, but grow up and mature. Yes, I’ve known you as the Pink Ranger, but then I’ve watched Flashpoint and The Division, and…
Lisa J: …yeah, Felicity. Sometimes I watch those shows because I’m like, “Okay, Amy Jo’s on it. Alright, let me check it out.” And I actually end up liking the show, of course, for you; but I like it because it was an actual good show. And, I think the misconception with…I’ll say “nerdy fans”…is that they’re just a little awkward, but there are many people who literally mature because of the people they relate to. You being an example and other people in the cast.
AJJ: Totally, yeah. And I love that. I think it’s so cool, like… [Laughs]… that was twenty years ago, it’s so funny! Or nineteen years ago, however many years ago it was. But when people come up to me now, once in a while, and are like, “Hey, I watched you as a kid!” and it’s like, I’m looking at this adult! [Laughs] It’s so cool! Because, I close my eyes and I’m seventeen still.
Lisa J: You look like you’re my age! Shoot. And I won’t mention my age. [Laughs] You still look young! People think like, “Oh wait, you must have been two when you were on that show.”
AJJ: Oh, that’s very sweet of you! Anyway, I really love the fact that you guys are growing up. And you know what I really hope? I really hope that, you know, some fan of Power Rangers grows up and becomes a really high exec at some amazing movie studio and… [Laughs]
Lisa J: And hires you! Ding!
AJJ: Oh, I’m kidding!
Lisa J: I’m not kidding, shoot!
Tristan: That’s great. [Laughs]
AJJ: But it’s true! If… [Inaudible]…right? It’s awesome.
Lisa J: Look, let me find out where Steven Spielberg is, befriend him, and hire you! Whaat?!
Lisa J: So, speaking of your cast, I’m going to mention a couple of cast members and you’re going to give your thoughts. Are you down?
Lisa J: Okay. Let’s start out with Walter Jones.
AJJ: Oh, I haven’t seen Walter in about…fifteen years, I think? And I think the last time I actually talked to him on the phone was when Thuy had died and he actually called to tell me. Then we emailed a bit in the past year, sort of reconnected. But he’s fantastic; I had a ball with him. He was really fun.
Lisa J: Amazing. Alright, so let’s move on to Austin St. John.
AJJ: You know, I literally have not seen that person or talked to that person since he left the show, because he left before I did. But he was an interesting cat. He was — [Laughs] He was a very, very nice guy, but I remember he had some crazy stories. Like, he used to tell some “out there” stories. That’s sort of the thing that I remember most about him.
Lisa J: What kind of stories he would tell?
AJJ: Oh my God…I don’t even know how to explain it. He just had these crazy stories about his life and I don’t know if half of them were true, or not, or whatever! I can’t even remember. I just remember being like, “Oh my God, this guy has a crazy, crazy life.”
Lisa J: Oh snap. Mmm. We gotta find Austin again!
AJJ: [Laughs] And then, actually, the last thing I heard about him — something happened to him, physically, but his dog was with him and his dog kept him alive! Like, his dog kept gnawing on his hands, trying to keep him awake.
Lisa J: Yeah, I heard that.
AJJ: Some crazy thing happened.
Lisa J: He attended the first Power Morphicon, so we saw him recently. And now he’s currently an EMT.
AJJ: Oh, nice! Does he live in California?
Lisa J: No, in Virginia. And now he’s overseas, I guess doing his EMT thing.
Lisa J: So, when he comes back to the states we can ask him about the stories!
AJJ: Oh! [Inaudible]
Lisa J: Okay, next would be…well, you know, clear the air with Thuy [Trang].
AJJ: Aww, poor Thuy. Yeah, that was just sort of devastating. I had actually gone and met her for a drink at Chateau Marmont maybe two months before she passed away.
Lisa J: Wow.
AJJ: Yeah. And then I got that phone call from Walter. Then me and David went down to her funeral and…It was just devastating; it was awful. But anyway, she was amazing. She was really a hilarious girl. [Laughs] She was just a funny chick. We got really close at a certain point in our life where we were sleeping over each other’s house. And, the big earthquake…We were having a slumber party. She was sleeping over and, oh my God, we went through that earthquake together, me and her. We thought nuclear war was happening. We did! We didn’t know what was happening. It was crazy! And how crazy is our job? Okay, so the earthquake happens, alright –
Lisa J: I was about to say. Go ahead.
AJJ: The morning of the earthquake, they called us into work!
AJJ: Dead serious.
AJJ: We do gown there — we ended up not shooting because the crew didn’t show up, but…
Tristan: Yeah, I wouldn’t think so, I mean…Wow.
AJJ: It was crazy. They were just, kind of…pinched their pennies, that’s for sure.
Lisa J: For real. They have some nerve! “Oh, we just had an earthquake. Biggest earthquake ever, like –”
Tristan: “Most devastating…”
Lisa J: “…in a bajillion years. By the way, come into work.”
AJJ: “Come into work.”
Lisa J: Like, “The highway is split into two…”
Lisa J: “It’ll take about eight hours to come into work, no problem.”
Jeremy, Tristan, Spy: [Laughs]
AJJ: But in defense, we were all so young and alone in California, it was actually that morning, all showing up…I remember Jason Frank pulling in. It was just like, “Ah!” Because all these people were our home, basically, so it was kind of nice to all gather on that morning, as well, just to make sure that everybody was okay.
Lisa J: Speaking of…Jason Frank.
AJJ: [Laughs] Jason is probably one of the craziest people I’ve ever met in my life. [Pauses] In a good way!
Lisa J: Okay!
AJJ: No, really! Actually, I saw him in New York maybe five years ago? We hung out one night. But working with him, he was just one of those people that had that special spark, that charisma that not a lot of people have. And he has it. There’s something very special about him. But he also has this mentality of — oh, how do I explain it – like, he doesn’t care. He just doesn’t care. I remember they had these quads that we were shooting with and [laughs] he comes outside. He’s the type of guy that — He got on the quad and just took off. Like, just got on it — we were about to start shooting and just drives down the street and out of sight. [Laughs] And the director and everybody’s like, “Where is he going?” And he was gone for twenty minutes! He just went on a ride.
Tristan: [Laughs] Just ‘cause.
Lisa J: Just for funsies.
AJJ: It was one of the funniest things! I just remember laughing. I almost peed, I laughed so hard.
AJJ: But anyway, that was him. That was who he was; he was just the crazy guy.
Lisa J: And we’ll get back to him in a second. We’ll go to David Yost.
AJJ: Aww, he’s one of my best friends. I love that man so much. We’ve stayed very close for the past twenty years. I just saw him on Cape Cod, actually. Yeah, I just think he has a very sweet soul. I love that guy. And he was great to work with, he was – I don’t know, we used to fight a lot, me and David, like cats and dogs. Almost like brother and sister. We have a brother/sister relationship, for sure. We haven’t fought in twenty years, but when we were working we used to get into all kinds of crazy fights. [Laughs]
Spy: What would you guys fight over?
AJJ: Who knows? [Laughs] Like, stupid things! We were like brother and sister, literally.
Lisa J: Did you ever fight over boys? Just saying.
AJJ: [Laughs] Maybe.
Lisa J: Am I missing anybody? Oh! Okay, what was the reason for you to leave the show? Why did you want to leave?
AJJ: Because I was done. I had done 152 episodes and I was really good friends with Shuki Levy, who is one of the owners, him and Haim. I did the same thing when I left Felicity. I just went to [Levy] and, as a friend, said, “I think I’m done. I think I’m ready to go try to do something else.” And he said, “Awesome. Great. Here, I wrote a little movie called Susie Q. Will you do this and about five more episodes—or, finish the season – and do this little movie?” I’m like, “Sure! That’s a good deal!” So, he let me go and I did Susie Q with him up in Vancouver. And that was that!
Lisa J: What did you think about Catherine Sutherland basically taking your place?
AJJ: Yeah, I think I met her in Australia. Was she from Australia?
Lisa J: Yes.
AJJ: Was she in the [Mighty Morphin Power Rangers] movie?
AJJ: Oh okay. How did she come in? I don’t remember how that worked out.
Tristan: I think she said she auditioned for the movie or something like that.
Lisa J: She first auditioned for the movie to play Dulcea, then didn’t get the part, but…
AJJ: Oh, okay. Anyway! Yeah, she was great. And I think I did three episodes that she was in, as well, or something like that. I’m not sure. But I worked with her a little bit and she was great. The year before, Austin and Walter and Thuy had left because they wanted [the show] to go Union. They had every right to want that and I was just naïve and young and stupid. And David left too — No, David stayed. What am I talking about? And me and David and Jason stayed. In hindsight, I wonder if we all band[ed] together. I wonder what would have happened. I wonder if we would’ve become Union. I don’t know. I don’t know.
Lisa J: So they went in by themselves and went, “Look, we want to become Union.”?
AJJ: Yeah, and they said, “Really? You want to become Union. Okay, I’m just going to replace you guys.” So it became the Power Rangers thing. I always say it’s kind of like Menudo. Right? Because the members in the band always changed, so we became completely replaceable, right? Which, I think is basically the truth on any show, really. People are expendable. At the end of the day, we’re all…
Tristan: And I’ve always wondered how was it being right in the middle of that, where suddenly you’re doing scenes where, at least on screen, maybe you would have a line where you would say, “Oh great da-duh-duh-da-da, Trini!” and then it’d cut to stock footage of Trini from some previous episode because Thuy was not there.
AJJ: Yeah, it was a weird time. I don’t know; I didn’t really know what was happening. I didn’t even have an agent yet. I was friends with Shuki. You know what? At the time, I don’t even think I knew what a union was. I just was so green. It was an awkward time. When they left, it was sad because we all started it together. And I left just a year later, because I was done. I was like, “Okay, this has been great. Now it’s time to…”
Lisa J: Move on.
Lisa J: So before we move on, there are a couple of things: when Thuy, Walter, and Austin left, Karan, Johnny, and Steve came on. What were your thoughts on them?
AJJ: I think my first memory of them… I’m not sure in order how it went, but we did the movie in Australia and that’s the biggest memories I have of them, us all being in Australia. Boy, what a trip that was. We ended up staying there, like, seven months. It was a long trip. We went to shoot the movie for two months, and they replaced one of the characters, and blah blah blah…Like, we were there for seven months and it was awesome. It was so fun and we all became sort of a family there.
And, they were great. I saw Steve at one of my shows, maybe seven years ago? Eight years ago? And he seemed great. I know Johnny has a band that I’ve sort of checked out a little bit, and they seem great. Yeah! I liked them all; they were awesome! Karan – we had so much fun in Australia, me and Karan. It was great, yeah.
Lisa J: Look, so many of y’all sing and play guitar, y’all need to make one big band.
Lisa J: Because so many — not just you guys, but so many former Power Rangers – are like, “Oh yeah, I sing. I do this. I have an album. I have five albums.” I’m like, “What [inaudible]?!”
AJJ: So funny.
Lisa J: Oh my goodness. And Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie was your first movie?
Lisa J: What was that like, starring in your first big movie?
AJJ: Yeah, I know. That was Non-Union, as well. [Laughs] So I just remember — there were times when they had us dangling over fire pits and…There were times when I was a little bit nervous about my life. [Laughs]
NPS: What?! [Laughs]
AJJ: [Laughs] Seriously! It was this Non-Union movie and it just felt really dangerous at times, to tell you the truth! Me and David caught on fire on set once!
NPS: No! What?! Oh no!
AJJ: Yeah! Ask David questions like that! Oh my God, it was a little nutty. But at the same time, oh my God, Australia was incredible. We stayed in Sydney and it was really exciting! We had stand-ins for the first time. We never had stand-ins when we did the TV show.
Lisa J: Yeah, y’all got some budget now!
AJJ: Yeah, and it was really good producers! Oh my God, I remember the people that were involved with that movie. It was, like, thirty five million dollars or something to make that movie! And it bombed at the box office, which was a shame, because people could see it on TV, I think. So why go to the movie?
Lisa J: And people — I mean, to be fair — I love Karan, Johnny, and Steve but they were like, “Who are these people? Who are these new people?!”
AJJ: I think so, yeah. I think they shot themselves in the foot that way.
Lisa J: So when you left Power Rangers, how did you come back to do the Turbo movie?
AJJ: Because they were really nice. They asked me. I think it was a year later. It took me awhile to work after that; I just started doing a lot of classes and plays. My philosophy is not to worry about the business aspect. Just dive into whatever art or craft it is that you want to succeed in and usually good things come from that. So, I think it was about two years until I got a different job. I think it was a year later when they did the Turbo and they asked me to come do it and I was like, “Sure! I’m not doing anything now.” So I came back to do the movie.
Lisa J: Oh, okay. So compare the two movies. The first movie…
AJJ: Thirty five million dollars. The second movie…
Tristan: Thirty five cents.
Jeremy: Thirty five dollars.
AJJ: The second movie was definitely a bit more dangerous, that’s for sure. Oh my God! I remember — you know the scene where we’re under the water?
NPS: Uh huh.
AJJ: The scuba gear? Oh my God, you guys…They had the electric lights and they weren’t under water lights.
NPS: [Gasp] Oh, no…
AJJ: One fell in the water! [Inaudible]... at the moment nobody was in the pool! [Gasp] Could you imagine?
Lisa J: Oh my goodness! Dang. You’re like “Sure! I’ll come back and do this movie!” Like, “You trying to kill me?!”
AJJ: Oh, that was when I was hanging over that volcano! Remember that volcano I was hanging over? I was up there crying! I remember at one point I’m like, “This just doesn’t feel right! I need to get down!” [Laughs]
Lisa J: Oh my goodness. But, how did it feel to be a little evil and try to knock the crap out of Katherine?
AJJ: Oh right. I don’t even remember that. Did I drink a potion or something?
Lisa J: You fell into the pit, basically. You and Austin fell into the pit.
AJJ: Ohh, right! And we come out evil. You know what, honestly, I don’t remember. I like Catherine [Sutherland]! I had a lot of fun with Catherine! So, I don’t know, it was probably fun to play an evil person, but I don’t really remember.
Lisa J: Okay. So before we move on to your other works, any other funny moments or any other interesting little anecdotes that you can remember from either shooting the movies or the show? If you want to embarrass some people, then that’s fine. Anything that you can remember.
Tristan: Please do. Yes.
AJJ: Let’s see. Oh my God, David would laugh so hard if I told you this story. It’s really embarrassing on my part. But you know what, I don’t care. So, you know the scene — Were we in some tiny little car?
Lisa J: The Radbug?
AJJ: Yes! [Inaudible squealing] I remember it was so weird! It was either there, or actually…Oh my God, he would die if he knew I — Okay. You know that opening scene where we all fall on the floor?
NPS: Right. Mm-hmm.
AJJ: When we stand up, look at David’s face. Watch David’s face. It looks like something smells really bad. And, why? Because I farted.
AJJ: I did! It was so awful; I don’t know what I ate! And if you look carefully, you’ll see David’s face. He was not happy.
Lisa J: Mm. “Why did I have to land on her?”
AJJ: [Laughs] Okay, that’s it. That’s all I’m going to say.
Tristan: We’re going to have to fire up the DVD player and…
Lisa J: For real. Yeah, because all Mighty Morphin is on DVD now in, well, “high-def”. High quality. So, we will have to check it out. Oh, and to settle the record, everybody was like, “Oh, look, Tommy/Kimberly! They’re in love!” Was there anything beyond being on-screen loves?
AJJ: Oh! You know what? I think, for sure, we had a crush on each other. For sure! For sure. [Laughs]
Lisa J: Hmm. Did this crush lead to anything?
AJJ: You know…I don’t remember!
AJJ: Okay, moving on!
Lisa J: [Laughs] Moving on, yes. Moving on. I love you already.
So after Power Rangers, you mentioned doing Susie Q. Adorable. Loved it, loved it. And I remember I’m watching Felicity. I’m getting my Keri Russell on and a little college drama, and I was like, “Oh my —Amy Jo Johnson!! What?!” So, how did you get that role?
AJJ: I auditioned for it the same way that I got all the other roles: I’ve auditioned. That one is probably one of the jobs that I’ve had that I’m most proud of. I loved that show. And I thought it was really, really well done. And the people involved were so amazing. And, yeah!
J.J. told me that when I walked by the room to go to the bathroom, and they saw me while they were auditioning people for Julie… Before I even came into the room, he’s like, “Oh! There she is. There’s Julie.” Like, he already knew. He saw me and he’s like, “There she is.” So I thought that was kind of cool.
Tristan: Wow. And you mean J.J. Abrams, who is now such a big name.
AJJ: I know. So awesome. Yeah, he’s one of the best people I’ve ever worked with. He’s just really so good at what he does, and so loyal, and just so…He’s inspiring. I really like him. And he was awesome. When I had done two years on that show and my mom had passed away and I just really needed a break. And I went to him, kind of like how I had done with Shuki, and I asked J.J. if I could go. He said, “Yeah, just do four more episodes and, for sure, you can go.” And I then moved to Chicago for a while. Then he was awesome because he asked me to come back for the last four episodes of the entire show. So it was just a really great experience. I think in hindsight, I wouldn’t have asked to go. I mean, I don’t regret anything, but at the same time if I did it again I wouldn’t have asked to leave Felicity.
Lisa J: I read that when you got the role – and correct me if I’m wrong – Julie was supposed to be a dancer, but then you convinced them to be like, “Can she be, like, a singer? Guitarist?”
AJJ: I didn’t have to convince them. I just told them, “I don’t know how to dance.” [Laughs] I’m a terrible dancer! And then I played [Abrams] some of my music and he’s like, “Oh, perfect!” It was just an easy transition, yeah.
Lisa J: And then you asked to leave because your mom passed. She passed away during the show?
AJJ: Well, yeah. When I got the pilot, she was sick. When we started filming in June, she actually passed in August, when we first started. So they let me go home for that, obviously. So it was two years after that, but I realized that I had been working the whole entire time and I never took a pause and just breathed that in and grieved. So two years later, I was just burning out and that’s when I asked to go. And they said I could go. I just needed a moment.
Lisa J: After Felicity, I was like, “No! Amy Jo is leaving!” So, you’ve done a bunch of shows. One, in particular, that I am loving, loving is Flashpoint. Loving! I heard about this Flashpoint and I was like, “CBS, okay. Is that the station with all the old-people shows still? I don’t know. Eh.” So I didn’t really check it out as it was showing. I would just catch re-runs here and there. And I was like, “Oh okay. Amy Jo’s on it. Alright, alright. I’m [going to] support.” Then I watched it and I was hooked.
AJJ: I think the people on it are so good. The writers are so good. They really did a good job with all the stories. We’re done now, you know. The new season actually airs next week for thirteen episodes. But we’re done filming and the show is completely done. But it was awesome. Enrico Colantoni is just so amazing. It was such a blessing to work with him. I really learned a lot in the last five years working with that guy.
Lisa J: Getting this show, [were] the auditions different?
AJJ: This show was different, because I had quit acting everything. In 2005, I left L.A. and I moved my life to Montreal, of all places. I just needed to get out and I just needed to…I always find myself doing that, right? I think I have a gypsy’s soul. And I had literally quit acting, and I was like, “I’m going to figure out what else I want to do.” And I get a call to come in for that part, and I said, “No.”
Then I get a call to come in for — there was a psychiatrist in the first couple of episodes — and I’m like, “Oh, I’ll go in for that!” They were like, “Well, if she comes in for that, why doesn’t she come in for Jules?” So they flew me in and I auditioned for it and I got it! And, you know what, it’s been so great and I’m so happy I did, because in the last five years I’ve re-discovered how much I do love acting. I think, maybe for me, it was Los Angeles that was bothering me and it wasn’t actually acting. So yeah, I moved to Canada and I love it here.
Lisa J: Of course, I’ve watched the show later on and…My dude, Lou!
Lisa J: Lou, who — Oh my gosh, I forgot his name…
AJJ: Oh! He was awesome, yeah.
Lisa J: I’m like, “Why you gotta kill the brother though? Why the brother has to go?”
AJJ: I know. You know what? I don’t know what — He was so awesome and so great. We were all so sad. I don’t know what the reasoning or the ideas behind that were…I don’t know! I don’t know. Mark Taylor! That’s his name. He was great. People make weird decisions, you know? There was some rhyme or reason in the grand scheme of things [to let him go]. I don’t know what it was.
Lisa J: So you mentioned that you learned so much from that show. What was the main thing that you learned from Flashpoint?
AJJ: I think I’ve become very much more comfortable in my own skin in the last five years. First of all, it could do with having a baby. Second of all, it was just the kindest cast I’ve ever worked with where…so supportive. Nobody judged and it was very mature. Actually, not “the kindest”. Let’s say, “the most mature” cast. So there was freedom and room to grow as an actor, I felt. And that also could be because my insecurity level had gone down. I think I was incredibly insecure, because the stage fright I told you about, and stuff. It took me a long time to get over that. I think for the first time on this show, I sort of really got grounded in who I am as an actor.
Lisa J: Again, you said when it premieres? It premieres next week?
AJJ: I think Thursday? I’m not sure. Thursday night? Oh, I should know that. On Ion, and in Canada on CTV.
Lisa J: Yeah, we’ll put in the links on the website, because it’s a good show, if you’re not watching it.
AJJ: I think it’s great! And this last season is so good. Jules has a lot of stuff in the first four or five episodes. Then the last two episodes are huge Jules episodes, which were so fun for me.
Lisa J: With Sam?
AJJ: Oh, yeah! Yep!
Lisa J: Okay, can’t wait! And yes, you mentioned in the conversation that you are a singer-songwriter. What drove you to create music?
AJJ: I think I’ve always used it as a way…very cathartic. Most of my lyrics come from my journal. All my songs are usually really sad. (You know that, [Lisa J and Spy], because you’ve come to my show.) But I think it’s because that’s how I express myself — when I am feeling emotion inside – is through music. I haven’t figured out how to do it when I’m happy. [Laughs]
But I’ve always kept it on the side as a hobby. I’ve never pursued it and tried to get a music manager or any of that stuff. I’ve always kept it sort of close to me. It’s just sort of my own personal thing that comes in waves for me, and all of a sudden feel like going and doing a show, so I go do a show. But I don’t think I’m built to pursue it in the sense of being on the road all the time and on tour. Even though I have a gypsy’s soul, I like keeping it more as this hobby that I can dip into, which is great. Like, the movie Bent I’m doing, I’m using some of the songs from that. My whole carpet bag full of songs I’m going to put in the movie. It’s just nice to have it. I don’t know; it’s just a part of me.
Lisa J: Will you be doing any more gigs or performances? I mean, as a hobby, but maybe sprinkle a little more in the future?
AJJ: Yeah! “Hobby”…I don’t know if that’s the right word. I just do it when I feel it, kind of like when I feel like painting. Like cooking! I’m so excited! After I hang up with you guys, I’m going to go make stew. And I don’t cook all summer; I don’t feel it. But as soon as it starts to get a little bit cold and the fall is coming, I just want to cook! So I’m going to go cook stew. The same thing with music: it comes and goes. So when I feel it, I do it. The next time I feel like doing a show, I’ll let you know. [Laughs]
Lisa J: And, let me tell you, nobody feels like cooking in the summer. It’s too hot, alright!
AJJ: You know?! Right?!
Lisa J: Come on! No, I don’t want to turn on the oven! Oven? Summer? I don’t think so. [Laughs] So yes, you brought up your short film, Bent. Tell us a little more about it.
AJJ: I tell you why I was inspired to do it first. So I finished Flashpoint in June and I went on a few auditions and I’m like, “You know what? I’m just not feeling this.” And I’ve always really wanted to direct and I feel like because of the confidence that I found within doing Flashpoint, I think I’m ready on a personal level to orchestrate that kind of thing.
So I’d written a full-length feature film called Crazier Than You last fall, which I love so much. I’m very excited about it. I decided that I needed to get my feet wet as a director before really going after doing the feature-length film. So I wrote this short, based off of two characters in that feature-length film, all grown up. And I love it; I’m so excited! I’m having fun putting it together. I’m learning so many lessons about letting go and delegating and how to make a shot list. I mean, the learning curve is crazy, what I’m going through.
But I’m really, really enjoying it! We shoot it in October and…I don’t know; it’s like painting a bigger picture! You know, I love writing a song or I love painting. This just feels like that but on a bigger level, because I’m just going from the gut. I’m just shooting straight from my heart, because within my acting to guitar to any of that, I’ve never really had formal training of any of it. I’m more of an instinctual artist and I just kind of do what I feel. So I’m excited about it. I’m excited to see how it feels to direct and just go off in a different direction.
Lisa J: So what is the feature film about?
AJJ: It’s called Crazier Than You. It’s based off of my mom’s story, actually. It is fiction, and so is Bent, but the stories were inspired by real events. But definitely fiction. Like, the characters in Bent [are] somewhat based off of me, but completely not. I mean, the woman’s a lawyer and has three kids and takes anxiety pills, which I don’t. And the other one is based off of my best friend, Johanna, who I grew up with, but it’s not her. I mean, this woman’s thirty-eight and she’s pregnant. You know what I mean? They’re just inspired, but very different.
So, Crazier Than You is about my mom’s story and it takes place from when she was seventeen all the way through her life, when she dies. She was in a religious cult for about twelve years. And I just find it fascinating of how people get themselves in that type of situation, you know? So I really dove into exploring my mom’s story. She was just this fun-loving, crazy seventeen-year-old. Like, “How did she end up in a cult?” And it’s through life! Life happens, and certain situations and circumstances, she just woke up one day and found herself completely brainwashed in the middle of a cult. Then she gets out. Also, the movie deals with her finding out that she has cancer and sort of dealing with dying and facing it.
Lisa J: And then the short film took two of the characters in your feature..?
AJJ: She has three kids in the movie, in Crazier Than You, and a best friend with a daughter. So, Bent is [about] her youngest and her friend’s daughter grown up at thirty. So they grew up in a cult. They grew up twelve years there, yeah. So it’s them in their late thirties, still dealing with their past.
Lisa J: Oh, wow. Okay. This got deep.
AJJ: [Laughs] Yeah.
Lisa J: So, you’re currently running a fundraiser for Bent. Tell us more about that.
AJJ: Well, the thing is, with making a movie, it’s incredibly expensive if you want to do it right, not just run in your backyard with a video camera. I really want to do it the right way, so I found this amazing producer named Holly O’Brien. And we’re just creating a production, you know? I found an amazing DP and a really great editor and we’re just putting together this production. I think we’re going to rent the RED camera, which is incredibly expensive to rent for two days.
Lisa J: It’ll be worth it.
AJJ: Totally, right? All the equipment and all the stuff! Anyway! It ends up being —at the end of the day – probably $30,000 to shoot the short. So I’m trying to raise about twenty [thousand dollars] on Indiegogo to, first of all, not put a huge hole in my pocket. Remember, Power Rangers was Non-Union.
AJJ: And also, just to create a conversation about the movie and to invite people to be a part of the movie-making process. A bunch of people have already jumped on board to be producers, which is great. You get your name on IMDB. You know, if somebody has the intention of becoming a producer in their life, it’s a great way to get a credit or something on your resume. I’m also selling my CD, my new CD that will come out in late Spring. So it’s a fundraiser, but at the same time I think with the perks I gave, you really get your money’s worth with what you’re giving. I tried to make each perk what I felt was fair.
Indiegogo has been so awesome and amazing. Actually, tomorrow, [September 17th], it’s going to be featured on Twitter! Bent will be the featured Indiegogo campaign for the day! So cool. I just love this platform to raise the money. I think it’s such a great way to create a really good conversation about the project that you’re putting out there, which is awesome. Anyway, so it’s Bent. So if you go to Indiegogo and you just press “Film”…in the last couple of days, it’s been the first one that comes up. And then I tweet about it a lot and I have a Facebook page for Bent.
Lisa J: And we’ll put the links on the website.
AJJ: Perfect! Cool.
Lisa J: So, yes. For people who want to donate, just to reiterate, there’s a lot of perks on the site where you can participate and be part of making a wonderful short film. You know, you can get a CD; you can get a postcard with the autographs from the cast; you can get a whole bunch of things.
AJJ: You can become a producer!
Lisa J: You can become a producer. You can be legit!
Lisa J: Okay! And! And, look, five thousand dollars — Now, five thousand dollars…
Lisa J: You can get a dinner with Amy Jo Johnson!
Spy: Worth it.
AJJ: And a private screening! I think it’ll be really fun! You know what? No matter what, I’m going to rent out a little place and do a screening of the film when it’s done. But I kind of wanted to put that $5,000 [perk] as a joke. Like, this would be the worst investment ever.
AJJ: So, I’m really not expecting anybody to buy that one!
Lisa J: Let me tell you something: If anybody is listening to this interview and you buy that [perk] for five thousand dollars, you’ve got to let me know.
AJJ: Don’t talk about that perk! That one is…Oh my gosh… [Laughs] Who knows, maybe my rich aunt might buy that one. Who knows?
Lisa J: That is hilarious. Like, “I haven’t seen Amy Jo in a while! Five thousand!”
Tristan: [Laughs] “Let’s go have some dinner.”
Lisa J: “Let’s have some dinner. Five thousand.”
AJJ: You know would be really nice? Shuki Levy or Haim Saban, will you please…?
Lisa J: Exactly.
AJJ: It’s the least you could do!
Lisa J: The least you could do. Look, Cheryl Saban, I know we tight. We tight, right? So you can throw in a couple of dollars! Let’s go. Let’s go.
AJJ: Right, right. Yeah, so you’re going to put the links on there?
Lisa J: Yes. So before we go, any final thoughts that you would like to say to the fans?
AJJ: I just want to say thank you to you guys, because it’s really nice to be able to sort of express myself and be asked these questions and maybe clear the air for some people who maybe have had preconceived notions about ideas of who I am. So it’s been awesome and I really appreciate the platform to be able to do it.
Spy: Thank you.
Lisa J: And we thank you. We do, because you’re just adorable! We love you!
Spy: Pretty much.
Tristan: Seriously. This definitely was one of our most anticipated interviews we’ve ever done.
AJJ: Cool! Love it.
Tristan: So thank you very much for doing this.
AJJ: Yeah, no. So fun. And thank you for the support, you guys. I love it. Awesome.
Lisa J: Anytime, anytime.