Girl Power

Girl Power

North Providence native stars as Power Ranger

"Why can't you ever play a princess?"

It's a question Dina Cataldi's grandmother has asked her after hearing about yet another film role involving stunts, martial arts and entering into a committed relationship with the gym.

The latest gig for Cataldi is more of the same, requiring regular intense workouts with trainers and stunt coordinators.

Afterall, she has a franchise name to live up to.

The North Providence native, who now lives in New York, will reprise the role of the blue ranger in "MMPR Fan Film," an unofficial, nonprofit web series adaptation of the 90's television series, "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers."

The film catches up with the Power Rangers 20 years later, in a dark, gritty world where Lord Zedd is set on destroying them. Cataldi stars in the first of two episodes to be released online in December; the second will be dedicated to the other four ranger.

Donations for "MMPR" have reached almost $42,000, far exceeding the goal of $18,500. At approximately $20,000 per episode, filmmakers are still looking for more donations to keep the series filming.

Though not an official part of the franchise, true MMPR fans are invested - for better or worse.

Most fans have given positive feedback, but when Cataldi was revealed to be the first female playing the blue ranger, some revolted, she said, angry that a woman would be wearing the blue suit, which, of course, had modified to be a different from a man's.

"I read all the comments," she said. "It was really funny. I finally chimed in. I said, 'When I morph, the suit's going to have to be curvy.'"

Daughter of Louis and Carol, she caught the acting buzz at age 14 at a Boys & Girls Club in Providence. She went on to become a part of Theatre Works. At North Providence High School, where she graduated in 1998, she took part in the drama program.

"I'm really proud of my little humble beginning in Rhode Island," Cataldi said.

She started her academic studies at Rhode Island College, and ended up moving to New York to attend Brooklyn College, where she earned a master of fine arts degree with honors in acting in 2006.

As she began her career, she found work in an apprentice program for the owner of Combat Inc. training, and started getting cast in roles with fight scenes.

Two years ago, she was lead actress for "Siren," a film for which she trained for three months and had weekly group fighting meetings.

She said in filming "MMPR," all of her physical training has been paying off as she pushes her body to the limit. She has been drinking a lot of blue Gatorade, she said, joking that at least if she throws up, she'll still be in character.

"You really need to have the stamina," she said, as she does all her own stunts. "Your body is going to fight you. It's a mental thing. Martial arts taught me that."

Cataldi calls herself the "action star girl next door."

"It's a very strange niche, plus being a redhead," she said with a laugh.

But the opportunities keep coming.

After meeting Dominick Sivilli and Louis Malderelli, director and executive producer, respectively, of "MMPR," she went out for the part of an FBI agent. But she ended up getting a call back for one of the leads.

"I was completely floored when they offered me the role," she said, noting that she happened to be wearing a bright blue shirt at the time.

Cataldi has jumped into rehearsals and keeps busy every day training for action scenes.

"I've been just being blue and becoming mighty," she said, and documenting her experience at bluerangerginger.tumblr.com where posts include a picture of her bruised leg with the caption, "That's what happens when you have 12 men running at you trying to kick your butt."

In the meantime, she is also working with her manager, seeking out future jobs that are not quite as physically demanding, like "A Harbor Story," a silent film featuring Cataldi that is currently being shopped around. She is also working on "Deep in the Darkness" for the Chiller Network.

She has also filmed "The Lighthouse" with Danny Glover and Kurt Angle, and was a stand-in for Scarlett Johansson in "The Avengers." Film credits include "The Adjustment Bureau," the CBS show "Golden Boy," and "Weekends at Bellevue."

"There's no rest for me, which is great," she said, noting that she has done seven years worth of work in less than half that time.

And she's now adding travel to the list.

She'll be making a trip home to Rhode Island Comic Con on Saturday, Nov. 2, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday, Nov. 3, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Rhode Island Convention Center, where a teaser trailer of "MMPR" will be shown.

Visit www.mmprfilm.com for more information about "MMPR" and www.ricomiccon.com for more information about the convention.

North Providence native Dina Cataldi will play will the role of the Blue Power Ranger in "MMPR Fan Film."