Rolles Of A Lifetime
Jun 25, 2014 08:38AM ● Published by 16560
By Linden Wilson
On a warm afternoon in May, the Southlake suburb of Timarron is business as usual. Fragrant trees sway in the gentle breeze, a yellow school bus drives slowly through the neighborhood, and sprinkler systems meticulously water each perfectly manicured lawn. Inside one house, Reggie Rolle and his wife, Amy, are getting their children ready for after-school activities. Raven, a 7th grader at Dawson Middle School, has club volleyball practice. At six feet tall, it’s no wonder her team is currently ranked No. 1 in the country. Roman, 9, plays flag football (his team is a back-to-back state champion), but the Rockenbaugh Elementary School student prefers knocking down threes on the basketball court. A second daughter, Jasmine, is finishing up her sophomore year at USC, where she excels as an art major.
During the day, Amy works as a freelance makeup artist for Tom Ford and MAC, and Reggie is an area manager for the American fashion label rag & bone. But these people aren’t your typical suburban parents. Behind the normalcy of their everyday routines with their kids and their jobs lies a powerful truth. Reggie is really Damon Henderson, the heroic Green Galaxy Power Ranger, and Amy is Trakeena, a formidable villain and one of the Power Rangers’ most evil enemies. Well, at least on TV.
Reggie and Amy met in the late 1990s after signing on to “Power Rangers Lost Galaxy,” the seventh season in a series that spans 21 years and 20 seasons to date and is the second most-watched television show in worldwide history behind “Baywatch.” Amy, a Kentucky native, had been working in Los Angeles for several years as a model before she hired an agent who sent her on TV auditions. Reggie, who was born and raised in suburban Minnesota, had been singing, dancing and acting since childhood. He’d done numerous commercials for companies like Nike and Adidas but had only been in the city a year when his agent introduced him to a manager searching for actors for pilot season.
“She was looking for more ethnic actors,” Reggie says. “There were a lot of people in my group, including Josh Hartnett and Amy Adams. She actually auditioned for ‘Power Rangers’ with me, for the Pink Ranger.” Reggie had six callbacks for the show, when typically actors only have two or three. “I found out later from one of the producers that the Blue Ranger and I had the most callbacks because they picked us first, and they wanted to see other actors with us. At the time, I had no idea.”
(Amy Adams didn’t land her role, but as Reggie points out humorously, she ended up doing fairly well for herself.)
Although they were both cast in the show, the Rolles didn’t meet each other immediately. While in a wardrobe room for a fitting, Reggie noticed a wall featuring headshots of all the actors who’d made the cut.
“I was looking at them — oh, he got in, he got in, then, who’s that?” he recalls, after spotting Amy’s picture. “They told me she was the villain. For the first couple of weeks, we didn’t get to see her in real life. It was just photos, or I would see a Polaroid lying around of her in her costume.”
Then one day, Reggie arrived on set for makeup.
“I walked into the makeup trailer, and she was there,” he says. “I just thought, whoa, and said, ‘Hey, what’s up?’ And we started talking.”
Because Amy’s character, Trakeena, was initially written as a minor role, the two didn’t cross paths much in the beginning. The main “Power Rangers Lost Galaxy” villain was Trakeena’s father, Scorpius. An animatronic puppet, Scorpius required a great amount of manpower to operate and make him look real.
“That thing was giant,” Amy remembers. “It weighed hundreds of pounds. When they would try to move it to another set, it was really difficult. So, they had the Red Ranger destroy him, which made me have a really good reason to want to destroy him and pretty much all the Rangers for being friends with him. After Scorpius was cut out of the storyline, I started working more and became a series regular.”
Filming was broken up into two units, first and second. First unit shot on sound stages in Valencia, where the spaceships were built, while second unit was always on location.
“Usually, if we were on second unit, she was on first unit,” Reggie says. “Most of the time, the Power Rangers were together. It takes a week to shoot an episode, and we shot about 52. We were all like siblings because we were together 13 hours a day. The night before our first show aired, we had a slumber party at the Red Ranger’s house so that we could wake up in the morning and watch it together.”
Contrastingly, Amy filmed many of her scenes with Japanese stunt team members donning monster costumes. “They read their lines to me in Japanese, but in the TV show, it comes out in English because that’s done afterwards in ADR [automated dialogue replacement]. It was a little different for me than it was for Reggie. There was a lot of bonding with him and the other Rangers.”
Trakeena’s outfit was also significantly more intricate than any other cast member because she was half human with tentacles, antennae and other bug-like features.
“That was a trip from day one,” Amy laughs. “I had to get encased in plaster to make a mold of my body and was in it for eight hours with just my head sticking out. They used that to build a dummy of my body, an exact mold, in order to create a costume. Then they did the same thing for my head. It was an intense process.”
The final product was made out of neoprene rubber. Stiff and uncomfortable, Amy wasn’t able to move around very easily, especially when she had to chase someone while carrying her 40-pound staff. Eventually, that costume was only designated as her battle armor so she didn’t have to wear it all the time. A second suit was created to replace it, but Amy remembers it being equally impractical.
“It was like a cat suit, and there was no way to use the bathroom without the assistance of another person,” she says. “So, I got really close to my hair and makeup person. She was with me twenty-four-seven when I was on set. Also, I wore this costume every day out in the desert for two years, so I had crazy tan lines because of the hole patterns. I went to a tanning bed to try to get rid of them for like a year.”
Because of her extravagant costume, hair and makeup, Amy typically had a 3:30 a.m. call time for first unit and a 2:30 a.m. call time for second.
“I was in hair and makeup for about two-and-a-half hours,” she says. “The exteriors on location could be anywhere. They can be two hours away. [The show would] always pick desert landscapes that could seem like a different planet. So they’d say, ‘Amy, be at Vasquez Rocks for hair and makeup at 2:30 a.m.’”
Finally, a script brought Reggie and Amy’s characters together. In an episode titled “Green Courage” that aired in October 1999, Damon — a mechanic — offers to fix Trakeena’s broken ship in order to rescue a political official that she has kidnapped.
“For me, being on ‘Power Rangers’ was such an unexpected adventure,” Amy says. “It gave me good stories and experiences that you don’t have ordinarily.”
Reggie recalls one experience that still resonates with him today. “There was a time when Make-A-Wish kids came to set. Their dream is to meet you. I met this kid from Australia, who I think had cancer. You’re in your world, and then all of a sudden, in between scenes, you might be sitting in your chair when this family comes up to you. It just takes you away from everything. It was pretty life changing for this kid from Minnesota.”
After the couple wrapped “Power Rangers” in 2000, they remained in L.A. for six years before deciding they wanted to live in a more family-friendly city. Southlake appeared on their radar after Amy’s good friend, a Southlake native, suggested she check it out.
“We were looking for a better school system,” Amy says. “A lot of Roman’s life as a little baby was spent in the car taking the other two to and from school. His quality of life was basically Ryan Seacrest on KISS FM. The sense of community in Southlake was very appealing to us.”
Reggie hopes Southlake will remain their home base for a while, although he admits he sometimes misses L.A. “There are certain things about big cities that are good for kids when it comes to the real world. But in communities like Southlake, everything’s designed for families.”
Amy also had guest appearances on TV shows like “Third Rock From the Sun,” and Reggie appeared on “All About Us” and “Charmed,” but both count “Power Rangers” as their most memorable filming experience because it helped develop their family.
“When I signed up for the show, I was just looking for the next job,” Amy says. “You work, and whenever your job is over, you’re unemployed again and need to hustle to get the next one. But the one thing I didn’t realize about ‘Power Rangers’ is that it never goes away. It will always be around, and there’s always a new audience. Every couple years, there are new little kids who like it. Our whole season aired again last year, on Saturday mornings. We’d wake up and watch it at home. It is a piece of our family.”