Fans of the beloved Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were left divided upon the release of Paramount Pictures’ Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Some argued that the story focused too much on April O’Neil (Megan Fox), while others felt the stitched-up story was a bit rushed. And then of course there was Shredder and William Fichtner, which was a bit messy to say the least.
But whatever the critics might say, at least we can all agree that the elevator scene (you know the one) reminded us of the the Turtles we all know and love. Fortunately for everyone, we have not seen the last of Turtles and their shenanigans, and what they’re bringing to theaters next summer will be way better than a slice of pepperoni pizza. Check it below!
Rocksteady and Bebop? Portals above New York? New Turtle Truck and lair? Casey Jones! New Shredder and Karai! Laura Linney?! It seems Out of the Shadows will pull out all the stops for the second installment of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise and with good reason. While the first installment was a commercial success, it did not live up to every fan's expectations. It seems producers are doing everything in their power to create the film that fans want and deserve. Based on what I saw on set, I am confident that we will get the movie that will make all TMNT fans proud.
On a rainy night in Lower Manhattan, a group of journalists and I found ourselves on the set of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, which was filming inside the New York Law School. We made our way through the set, catching a glance of some Foot Clan action before sitting down in one of the school’s classrooms. After a brief moment, I spotted the stars Pete Ploszek, Alan Ritchson, Noel Fisher, and Jeremy Howard, who are returning for a second round as Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello, and Michelangelo, respectively. The actors were in their motion capture garb, and their faces were covered in dots.
It was the perfect opportunity to ask them all a few questions.
What specifically do you think worked the first time around that you wanted to bring to the second movie?
Noel Fisher: For me, just the energy of the turtles. [We] four as people have a really great natural chemistry that's been there from the get-go. We really genuinely like hanging out and busting each others' balls, like brothers would. I think that's the main thing we're bringing along with more of the turtles in this movie. So we got the opportunity to bring all of that energy to it.
Were you fans of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles growing up? And if so, did you get to play your favorite?
Noel Fisher: I think we were all fans.
Alan Ritchson: Am I playing my favorite? No.
Pete Ploszek: I think I am.
Noel Fisher: Leo was your favorite? Leo's no one's favorite.
Pete Ploszek: That's why I'm playing him! [Laughs] I, for one, grew up one of five kids, four boys and a girl. And it shook out really well when we played. I grew up with a love of them.
Alan Ritchson: Was you sister Shredder whenever you guys played?
Pete Ploszek: No, no, no. She was Splinter. Nah, she'd put her yellow jacket on and be like, "What're you doing?"
Alan Ritchson: I think we all grew up with it. We're just at that age. It's still really funny to me to go to the zoo, and there's like a 35-year-old dad with his five-year-old son, and they're both wearing Ninja Turtles shirts.
Noel Fisher: Jer, are you playing your favorite?
Jeremy Howard: Yeah. I can still remember: I loved him so much I had a broomstick and a purple mask. So, I guess Donny was my favorite. Yeah, so I love playing Donny, and I definitely have the computer tech link too.
Noel Fisher: He's our go-to guy with tech stuff.
Alan Ritchson: If you need anything in regards to a computer, just call him!
So, Noel, is Michaelangelo your favorite? And Alan, you mentioned Raph wasn't yours.
Alan Ritchson: Yeah, my favorite was Mikey! I'm still waiting for something tragic to happen to him (gesturing to Noel Fisher).
Noel Fisher: He keeps saying this, and it's not even funny anymore.
Alan Ritchson: I'm in the planning stages, all right? [Laughs]
What are some things that you guys got to do in this film that you didn’t get to do in the last film?
Noel Fisher: Is there anything that we haven’t…
Jeremy Howard: As characters? Or as guys running around New York?
Pete Ploszek: What I’m most excited about with this movie is it’s a lot more emotionally driven amongst the brothers. You’re really going to see four brothers being brothers and fighting and trying to make up and telling each other how they feel, and I think it’s the point now where we’re all a little bit older. I mean, you and I are essentially, almost, no longer teenagers, you know, and so with that comes, I think, your own identity. You’re going to see that and see the four of us realize that we’re pretty different from one another.
Noel Fisher: Back to that heart thing, you get to see a lot more of that and explore a lot more of that, for all the turtles. That’s the one thing I’m pretty excited about.
With that said, the actors goofed around a bit about when asked about what spoilers they could share, and with that, they went back to work to finish a scene. There is clearly a brotherly love among the four actors that has translated fairly well onto the big screen. It’s great to hear that they will bringing in that great energy of the first film into the second. Based on the small tidbits in the trailer, it seems that the film will grasp its more outlandish mythology in a way that will appeal to both new and old fans of the Ninja Turtles. We had the opportunity to ask André Nemec, one of the returning writers from the first film, about the tone of the film, and the shift of focus.
They were talking about this movie having more of a family friendly tone and a more focused direction than the first one. Would you agree with that?
André Nemec: Yeah, I think the movie leans into a very strong theme of what it means to grow up, and leaning into the notion of the teenager part of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and that time of life where you don’t really know how you feel. I think every kid goes through that moment in time where they sort of think they understand their purpose and their place, and who their friends are and aren’t, and what life is going to be, but ultimately everybody has to go through that blossoming part of life. I think this movie leans into that theme on a lot of levels, and it leans into the strength of family, which is sort of a fundamental theme of the Turtles whatever incarnation of turtles has ever existed, it’s always been thematically about family. This one does that, but it explores that other realm as well.
In the first film, Megan Fox’s April O’Neil was kind of the main character. She was our point of entry. And from what we’ve heard about this movie, it sounds like it focuses a lot more on the Turtles. Can you talk about that shift of focus, what made you decide to change the focal characters and what that changed about the movie?
André Nemec: I think in the first movie, again, we weren’t sure what the Turtles were going to be. We looked at these beautiful maquettes that were built and early renderings and drawings and grey-scaling from ILM and then early renderings of how they were going to move and how their faces were gonna [look] when they spoke. So, as we were building out the first movie, it was hard to get a handle on what kind of story you could kind of tell with the Turtles. And, I think that’s why I’m saying part of the process in completing that first movie allowed us to sort of figure out what the second move itself wanted to be. And it made us realize that we actually could lean into telling sort of a dynamic emotional story with the Turtles. That they didn’t just have to be secondary players in someone else’s story. This movie, though, is as much April O’Neil’s story as it is the Turtles’ story. I mean, she certainly carries a thorough arc in this movie. But, I think we realized that we were going to be able to actually tell a story where you were going to be emotionally impacted by what the Turtles were going through in a way that when you looked, at least when I looked back in the early work, outside of the animated version of it into sort of the guys in the rubber costumes, it was hard to drag real deep emotion. It was hard to play a deep emotional scene with guys in rubber suits. So we weren’t sure we were going to be able to really pull that in the first movie, and if we tried it and didn’t land it, it might’ve floated off the screen.
André Nemec concluded his interview by vaguely revealing the types of easter eggs that will be present throughout the film. Keep an eye out for those! Next, we were fortunate to speak to the legendary Laura Linney, one of the newest additions to the franchise.
So we know you’re a police chief, but this is all we know. Please tell us everything…
Laura Linney: I am a Bureau Chief of Organized Crime for New York City, and events are happening within the city that are of course wild and unprecedented and I have these people coming to me telling me about turtles which seems a little farfetched, and it takes me a while to grasp the situation, to understand what these creatures are, to value their assistance and what they have to offer, and then I become an ally.
So you’re sort of their Commissioner Gordon?
Laura Linney: Correct.
We don’t really see you in many movies quite like this, but this is a big summer blockbuster and was it for you like, “I want to be in one of those big popcorn movie type things," or was it just a particular script…
Laura Linney: I didn’t seek it out, it came to me and it took me a minute to sort of think about it, and then I watched the first one and those turtles are just fantastic. And, it was filming here in the city and I now have a little boy and it all just sort of fell into place and I just thought why not.
Do you have a favorite turtle?
Laura Linney: I love them together. I love how their personalities ping off each other. I didn’t understand turtle fever before I started working on this, and I’m like “Oh well of course they’re so popular.” So, it’s fun.
It’s sounds like Laura Linney is having a blast on set! It will be very interesting to see the dynamic she will bring to the film. Much like Linney, Arrow’s Stephen Amell will also be introduced to the film as the fan favorite vigilante, Casey Jones. We were able to speak to Amell briefly before he was whisked away to reshoot a scene.
So what can you tell us about your character?
Stephen Amell: Well, the Casey Jones that people know, I mean, just from looking at my appearance as opposed to what I think comic book fans have come to expect from Casey Jones, we are meeting Casey in this movie at a very different point. The Casey that we met in the previous live-action films was a finished product. I’m doing a completely different job than what I’m doing by the end of the movie. So, I like it because its very much a origin story for my character. It’s certainly not the center piece of the movie, but for me personally, I like finding the character in a phase of discovery.