McHENRY – The year was 1997. Jason Faunt had just graduated from the University of North Carolina, Asheville, with a business degree. He told his mother he was moving to Los Angeles to be an actor. Her response was, “No you’re not.”
In a truck with 250,000 miles on it and no air conditioning, the McHenry East Campus alum made the cross-country trip with fellow East campus classmate and best friend Jeremy Fitzl, who was at the University of Southern California.
“I had wanted to move to L.A. and be an actor since the beginning of high school,” Faunt said. “I literally packed up my bags after college with the $500 I had to my name and went on my way.”
It was an age-old tale: Faunt started waiting tables and immediately jumped into the best acting class he could afford. A year and some much-needed connections later, the aspiring actor had his first officially credited role on NBC soap opera, “Sunset Beach.”
“Guy delivering package. That was the role,” Faunt said. “I was in the right place at the right time. I had a couple lines and it got me my SAG [Screen Actors Guild] card. Then I was on ‘Passions’ and ‘Port Charles’.”
In 2001, after his third time auditioning for the show, Faunt landed the role, or rather roles, of Wes Collins in “Power Rangers Time Force,” as well as that of Alex, the former Red Time Force Ranger. Faunt played his past and future self in the same season.
The first episode of “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers” aired Aug. 28, 1993. Faunt’s 40-episode ninth season started with him taking an immediate turn for what would seem to be the worse.
“I die in the first episode,” Faunt said. “Well, the other Rangers think I died. But I didn’t.”
The critically acclaimed season since has earned Faunt four opportunities to appear in other seasons.
The Power Rangers franchise is coming up on its 25th anniversary. What better way to celebrate than teaming up with past Rangers with the current “Super Ninja Steel Rangers” crew in a reunion episode to complete the ultimate task, saving the world.
Faunt will reprise his role as the Red Ranger in the 25th-anniversary episode, “Dimensions in Danger,” which airs at 7 p.m. Aug. 28 on Nickelodeon.
Faunt also will be at Wizard World Comic Con from Aug. 23-26 at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont signing autographs and meeting with fans, old and new.
“You come across kids that are older now that watched you when they were younger, and you changed their life,” Faunt said. “Whether it was bullying or divorce or something else, I’ve had fans come up to me in tears saying I got them through a really tough time. You meet these people and you realize the impact you have on people’s lives. It’s really cool. The show is on Netflix now and adults who loved the show when they were little are now watching it with their kids. They can go back and watch what dad watched. I have five and 6-year-olds coming up to me asking me questions like the show is airing now. It’s awesome.”
Now 43 years old and a father of two, Faunt divides his time between acting, working as a financial planner and fatherhood.
“The entertainment side can come and go,” Faunt said. “After Power Rangers happened, 9/11 happened and it was a tough time to get work with all of the reality shows kicking in. I segued into financial planning but was still always auditioning. It gave me ability to not put all my eggs in one basket.”
Faunt most recently portrayed a villain in the film “Enuattii” and plays the lead role of Mike in Lifetime’s “Honeymoon in Paradise”, scheduled to come out later this year. Faunt also shot a futuristic television pilot “E.L.E.” in which he plays an Air Force lieutenant, though there is not a set air date as of yet.
Living in L.A. can be quite the experience, but Faunt said there is just something about McHenry that makes him feel at home.
“There’s something pretty cool about that Midwestern life,” Faunt said. “People are always so friendly and there’s a different sense of community out here than there is there. It’s a different beast out here. Fiesta Days and Friday night football games, there’s just something great about it.”
For information on Wizard World Chicago, visit wizardworld.com/comiccon/chicago.