Not too shabby, starting an acting career in the renown Nickelodeon TV series “Power Rangers Samurai.” Who has not heard of the Power Rangers? And who at one point or another has not wanted to kick some ass? Alex Heartman does not need to want to, he is that guy.
An American actor who first portrayed the assassin in the web series “Warrior Showdown,” he then graduated to the role of Jayden Shiba, the Red Ranger where he could exude his martial arts talents. For Alex, his athletic abilities revealed themselves at age 7 when he was given his first snowboard. The youngest of five loved the outdoors: rock climbing and cliff jumping. A bit later on, Alex was introduced to martial arts: Karate, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Judo, which instantly became another passion of his. Today, Alex is crossing the bridge from TV to film, temporarily leaving his red suit behind long enough to co-star in his first independent feature, “Take A Chance.” The film will follow the story of a young Japanese college student named ‘Masa’, whose father sends him to a karate master in the United States to study as an Uchi Deshi. Alex will portray the role of ‘Antonio,’ young Masa’s arch nemesis, a black belt in karate.
PP: Power Ranger’s isn’t the only place where you’ve utilized martial arts. In fact, you fight in your upcoming projects. Is that a passion of yours?
AH: It was my hobby before Power Rangers and I always kind of trained in it knowing that it might help me out, but I never really thought that my martial arts would come into my acting career. But now that I can put them together, it’s a dream come true almost because I love those two things very much.
PP: Where else will we see you fighting?
AH: I just did a music video with the band Temper Trap. It’s their new single “Need Your Love,” which is pretty awesome. I get to fight more in that as well. I also have an independent feature film that I’m starting to film in May.
PP: Tell me about that.
AH: Well, that’s called “Take a Chance” and I’m very excited for it. I get to use more martial arts, but it is a more serious role, and it’s a coming-of-age tale. I’m the supporting character. There definitely is some character arc in my character, Antonio.
PP: What’s the premise?
AH: It’s about a kid from Japan coming to America and having to deal with the trials and tribulations of moving to a new place and not knowing anyone. He kind of falls in love with a girl who he can’t really have and that kind of thing.
PP: Do you do your own stunts on “Power Rangers?”
AH: We did do our own stunts on set as much as they would let us. Right now we’re training in parkour and free running. It’s not really a martial art, but I guess it could be considered similar because it is a physical art. Free running is: you would see a guy jumping from wall to wall and then doing some sort of side flip or back flip off of a ledge and precision jumping between rails and things like that, and parkour is similar, but it’s a little more basic.
PP: The show has been around since 1993. Did you follow the series before you joined the next generation?
AH: I did. I was a huge fan of it growing up. I definitely was the Red Ranger for a couple of Halloweens in a row. We’re trying to find the pictures somewhere.
PP: Now you are the Red Ranger…
AH: I play Jayden, who is the silent, strong type. He’s their leader, but he’s not too out there. He’s kind of the rock behind everyone, so when all the other teammates get crazy and stuff happens and they’re in emotional turmoil, Jayden’s there to kind of to get them back to ground level.
PP: You shoot in New Zealand. How was that experience?
AH: New Zealand was great. It was so amazing. The locations were just beautiful. The crew was super amazing because it’s a pretty small industry so we were working with the guys that worked on “Lord of the Rings” and are now working on “The Hobbit,” and all those huge major, motion pictures. So to work with them and the stunt guys, the lighting crews, and makeup and wardrobe was really awesome.
PP: Obviously you have a younger audience; do your fans ever reach out to you?
AH: Oh yeah. I don’t know how fans have found—I have an old modeling agent in San Francisco, and they have found that address. They’re just nice people, so they forwarded the fan email on. I’ve received awesome letters from little kids, like drawing me and I have stick figure arms or sometimes no arms at all or no back.
PP: Do people stop you on the street?
AH: It’s actually more parents that stop me on the street, oddly enough. I think that they recognize me more, because they watch the show with their kids, which is also great, because it means that they like the show too. And kids definitely do notice.
PP: I’m curious, what’s it like fighting and jumping around in the suit?
AH: It’s hot. The suit itself is well-fitted and nice, but those helmets, man. They need to figure out a fan system in there or conditioning or something, because it is bad.
PP: In doing a show like “Power Rangers” for over a year now, do you find that you would like to transition into more serious or dramatic acting?
AH: In the long run, absolutely. Power Rangers is a great start for me because I want to end up in action-adventure and science-fiction and fantasy and those kinds of “out there” films and TV shows. But I definitely would like to graduate to more mature roles and make an actual career.
PP: What do you think the challenges are for people like yourself who get their start in this younger genre and hope to one day branch out?
AH: I think one of the things that makes it difficult is having the young fans, because when you’re introduced to a young fan base, and then that’s the only fan base, you may not get a movie because they can’t sell it to the older crowd. You have to introduce yourself to the older crowd while still appeasing the younger crowd at the same time. And it seems to me like it kind of has to be a smooth transition overall. Although there are some people that just kind of disappear and then reappear as older actors and actresses and make it. I definitely would love to have both out at the same time.
PP: What about your studies? Are you going to college or taking acting classes?
AH: I am taking acting classes on the side. I also take classes at Santa Monica City College, just to fill in those days when I’m not shooting. They’re mostly online classes just because you never know—life is unpredictable. But I definitely try to learn as much as possible when I’m not on set or working. For a while I wanted to be an architect, and I’m pretty good at math, but right now it’s more film studies and I would like to turn towards directing or maybe producing in the future sometime. So it’s kind of learning the business side of the Entertainment industry.
PP: You’re from Sacramento. Who or what is responsible for you wanting to be an actor?
AH: Actually my sister…she was a hair stylist up in Sacramento, and she was the one who pushed me into modeling, and then through modeling I took some acting classes and I took theater classes in high school. But I never really thought of it as a career, until I started going to these classes, and then they started having auditions for agents and managers. I found my manager through them, and I was signed with her a week later, and started flying down to L.A. for auditions. Sooner or later I booked Power Rangers.
PP: What do you do when you’re not shooting the show?
AH: Well, actually, while I was in New Zealand, I bought a cheap car. I couldn’t not see the country, so whenever I was not on set, I was driving around, taking hikes, going to different towns outside of the city.
PP: You’re an explorer.
AH: Yeah, definitely.
PP: Do you want to travel more around the world?
AH: Oh yeah. My next stop is somewhere in South America; not sure where yet, but it’s somewhere down there.
By Pamela Price
Photo location courtesy of Platinum Motor Sport
“Take A Chance,” co-written and co-produced by Grand Master Saiko Shihan Oyama, is slated to start production next month in Birmingham, Alabama.