A few years before the 2017 Power Rangers reboot showed very widely — 3,693 theaters — music video director Joseph Kahn and producer Adi Shankar debuted POWER/RANGERS, an unofficial fan film that featured an inspired bit of stunt casting. James Van Der Beek, the ‘90s TV icon and star of Dawson’s Creek, played an adult Power Ranger struggling from PTSD in an apocalyptic future. The 14-minute film quickly became a cult favorite.
In a recent interview with Inverse, Shankar looked back fondly on that Van Der Beek casting, and noted the TV star was also approached by Saban and Lionsgate to appear in the official, less violent Power Rangers movie.
“They asked him to cameo,” Shankar said on the Saturday of Power Morphicon held in Anaheim, California. “The first time he was approached was at a Jerry Seinfeld charity dinner.”
In March 2015, less than a month after POWER/RANGERS went viral, Seinfeld hosted the inaugural Los Angeles Fatherhood Lunch in Beverly Hills, a benefit on behalf of the nonprofit Baby Buggy. And Van Der Beek was there.
“He called me up saying, ‘Dude, the craziest fucking thing happened,’” Shankar recalls Van Der Beek telling him. “‘I was at this charity dinner and there were some Lionsgate and Saban people. They came to my table and sat down. They said, ‘We’re doing a Power Rangers movie. Would you be interested in cameoing in it?’ Should I do it?’”
Shankar gave him quick advice. “I said no, you shouldn’t do it. That’s fucking stupid. That’s not a good look for you.”
It seems Van Der Beek agreed, as the actor ultimately never appeared in the movie. The feature film did include cameos from original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers stars Jason David Frank and Amy Jo Johnson. Inverse has reached out to confirm with Van Der Beek’s reps, and we’ll update when we hear back.
At that same dinner from 2015, Variety spoke to Van Der Beek about POWER/RANGERS. “We did this little experiment [where] everybody worked for free,” he said. “The intention the entire time was not to sell it, just to give it away on YouTube for free to the fans who might like it, and had no expectation it would blow up as big as it did.”
While the future of the Power Rangers film series remains in question, the entire franchise has never been stronger. On August 29, BOOM! Studios will release [Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Shattered Grid #1](https://www.inverse.com/article/48370-power-rangers-comic-is-changing-color-scheme-after-shattered-grid), the final issue in the acclaimed Shattered Grid comic book series. Toy maker Hasbro has also acquired the franchise from Saban Brands and is producing the next series, Power Rangers Beast Morphers, slated to premiere in 2019 on Nickelodeon.