RJ Cyler made a splash with his titular role in this summer's Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl, and it's sent his star rising ever higher. The best indicator of this fact is that Cyler has just been cast in the new Power Rangers movie as Billy – the Blue Ranger. You can read the official Instagram post announcing his casting below.
With the official Power Rangers Instagram showing four of the five Rangers cast, Cyler's Billy is the latest shake-up to the status quo of the original source material. Originally played by David Yost in the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers series, the newer incarnation of the character is labeled as a genius who has problems dealing with people, placing him in the "typical movie nerd" role that we'd expect him to occupy.
While he's still somewhat of a newcomer, RJ Cyler has already made an impression with Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl - despite the film's less than impressive run at the box office. It's the type of performance that leads to a role in an ensemble picture, much like Power Rangers will be, before possibly priming Cyler into more leading man roles in the future. Judging by the nature of his previous role, you can see how much of a switch it will be when the actor takes the role of the uptight, awkward character, instead of any sort of laid back comedic relief.
The brilliant thing though, is that if this were a typical Hollywood film, Cyler would indeed be playing the comedic relief character. But with Power Rangers making an extra push for diversity and a break from "conventional thinking," making him the new Billy is something that can only work in the favor of the project's potential success. That is, unless the write the character as so much of a genius that he becomes a basket case whenever danger rears its head. Which, again, is a bit of a jump when you take a look at the clip below showing RJ Cyler and his Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl co-star Thomas Mann in action:
Another issue that comes up is the fact that Billy is described as having OCD. This certainly doesn't help any when trying to quell the fears of a public hoping that such disorders will be handled with the proper amount of sensitivity, especially considering how much movies love to lean on such a condition as a crutch to paralyze a character before either empowering them or sending them to their demise. Seeing as this is the Power Rangers origin story, and the fact that RJ Cyler is shaping up to be an impressive young actor, it seems like a good bet that this is a pitfall they're desperately trying to avoid.
With only the Yellow Ranger being left vacant in the core Power Rangers team, it's only a matter of time before we not only see a name, but also get a cast photo of the whole team together for the first time. In the meantime, we congratulate RJ Cyler for his role, and we look forward to seeing what sort of film Power Rangers will be when it premieres on January 13, 2017.
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Mike Reyes is the Senior Movie Contributor at CinemaBlend, though that title’s more of a guideline really. Passionate about entertainment since grade school, the movies have always held a special place in his life, which explains his current occupation. Mike graduated from Drew University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science, but swore off of running for public office a long time ago. Mike's expertise ranges from James Bond to everything Alita, making for a brilliantly eclectic resume. He fights for the user.