*Season 1 (1993–94)
The series takes place in the fictional town of Angel Grove, California. On an exploratory mission, two astronauts discover an extraterrestrial container (referred to as a dumpster as a result of its smell) and breach the unit, inadvertently releasing the evil alien sorceress Rita Repulsa from 10,000 years of confinement. Upon her release, she and her army of evil space aliens set their sights on conquering the nearest planet: Earth. The wise sage Zordon, who was responsible for capturing Rita Repulsa, becomes aware of her release and orders his robotic assistant Alpha 5 to select five “teenagers with attitude” to defend the Earth from Rita’s attacks. The five teens chosen are Jason Lee Scott, Kimberly Hart, Zack Taylor, Trini Kwan and Billy Cranston. Zordon gives them the ability to transform into a fighting force known as the Power Rangers, providing them with an arsenal of weapons at their disposal, as well as colossal assault machines called Zords, which can combine into a giant humanoid machine known as the Megazord.
do i have some news for you… zordon, also known as david j. fielding, has relocated to austin, tx. and i had the immense pleasure of sitting down with this lovely gentleman to chat about how he got into acting, his career, new goals and his new life in austin. he was even nice enough to let me geek out and allow me to photograph an emotional series in a character study.
a role is like a jacket.
growing up with his father in the air force, fielding moved every two years. with so much moving, it was an escape he found with his love of reading comic books and sci-fi. eventually, he embodied these comics and began acting them out, using a parachute as his curtain. thus began his interest in performing. though, it wasn’t until high school that he was officially “bit by the bug.”
in 1977, fielding’s father retired from the air force and settled the family in paris, tx. as a student at paris high school, fielding took stage for the first time at a school talent show. he and a buddy played out the roles of steve martin and dan aykroyd, becoming the two czech brothers, as the wild and crazy guys. he recalls the rush with a smile. he said that the reaction of the audience filled his ears with cheers of laughter and clapping as they took the stage as georg and yortuck festrunk. upon graduating, he was recruited by the late ray karrer to begin studying at a junior college in paris, tx. it was under karrer’s wing that fielding earned a scholarship to texas state (then known as southwest texas).
recalling his time at southwestern, he says “i don’t remember doing a lot of core basic stuff, math, physics… i just remember doing a lot of theater. i was always in a theater class or preparing for a role.” a huge influence in his theater career was his instructor and mentor, jay jennings. “jay taught movement using carl jung’s ‘man in his symbols.’ i grasped the idea that everything is connected… nothing is isolated. this allowed me to laser in my method and how i approached roles.”
after graduating from southwest, he was prepared to go into the work force, but got a call from the university of pittsburg. they offered a him a deal he couldn’t say no to… a mfa. he was able to receive a stipend for teaching that paid for his tuition. in his time at pittsburg, he saw the birth of the improv group that came to be known as “friday night improv.” every friday evening, a group of students would get together to work on and study improv, opening fielding’s eyes to a new level of play.
“we found our zordon”
upon completing his mfa, fielding moved to LA with then girlfriend in 1992. and immediately started taking improv classes. in those classes, he met a slew of a network of peers, all chasing their dreams of being discovered. he was 29, living in la, and heard the nightmare stories of walking from cattle call to cattle call to get an inkling of a role… then, out of the blue, he got a call from a friend, also southwest texas alumni, saying he would be perfect for a part in a pilot for “mighty morphin power rangers.” intrigued, he said yes. when he walked into the building for his audition, he expected the cattle call his peers had warned him about, only to be surprised that there was only one other guy auditioning for the part. on opposite ends of a room, the two prepared. fielding couldn’t help but overhear him preparing. “he kept saying his lines in a cartoony, high pitched voice. it just didn’t sound right.” he on the other hand saw the character as a zeus, deep and steady voiced with no question of his authority. summoned in and asked to stand on the table, he hopped up and delivered his lines in his best boomed voice. the then red ranger (austin st john) looked at the casting agents and said “we found our zordon.”
and so it was
fielding’s first on screen audition landed him his first on camera experience. but, it turned into not that at all. while being an essential part of the show, he was only filmed once. being a lower budget production, the producers recycled his footage; he was only called in every 5 weeks or so to record voice overs for 4-5 episodes at a time. it was because of this he felt disconnected from the show, and ended up making the decision to leave la. deciding, “there was nothing to keep me here. production wasn’t too happy, but said ‘we can replace you.'” making his decision all the more easier to leave. in fact, he hadn’t the slightest notion of the impact he was impressing upon the show viewers as zordon. it wasn’t until he was in a mall in pennsylvania at christmas time that he saw himself as an action figure in a kb toy store!
after multiple moves, career changes, and an adventure at burning man (saying of burning man, “i was old enough to stay out of the craziness, but young enough to enjoy the craziness! … it was probably the most spiritual experience I’ve ever had.” he made the decision to move again to paris, tx where he began teaching the high school theatre class. he quickly realized he wasn’t in to teaching for the long haul, but found a way to connect and create a dialog with the students (that previously showed little to no interest in learning in class), making the most of his time while he was there. so, in the spring of 2011, he moved back to pittsburg.
“it as a cascade of bad luck,” he said. one thing after another seemed to keep happening to him, but it afforded him the opportunity to explore writing. in his downtime, he was able to write many short stories. and then, in a ‘twist of fate’ he was invited to the Take a Show-Con (an anime and manga convention) as a special guest. he was taken aback at the request, for it was a character he had forgotten about.
finally, fielding met zachery mcginnis of galactic productions (also austin st john’s booking agent). mcginnis took fielding under his wing, and made sure that fielding was getting the recognition he deserved. for zordon wasn’t just a role. zordon was a beacon of hope for kids. zordon was a fatherly figure. zordon was a figure to be looked up to. now fielding makes regular appearances at various conventions.
when i asked him about his move to atx” he matter-of-factly said, “this is where I’m supposed to be. it’s a melting pot of one community…. it’s a little island of blue in a sea of red that is texas. and indian food!”
david lives in north austin with his beloved cat, serena, where he continues to write and work. you can contact zordon/david via his facebook page here.
david, it was an honor meeting you. thank you for sharing your story with me.
go be awesome.
with love, as always,
*taken directly from Wikipedia