IAR INTERVIEW: Megan Fox and Will Arnett Talk 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles'

Tuesday, 05 August 2014 13:05 Written by  iamrogue
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IAR INTERVIEW: Megan Fox and Will Arnett Talk 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles'

Obviously, it's the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles putting butts in seats to see Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello, and Michelangelo get all the glory, but the heroes in a half shell don't work without human counterparts to draw moviegoers into the story.  The Turtles provide the action and the attitude, but Megan Fox and Will Arnett provide an emotional connection to the sewers teeming with mutated reptiles and shredding villains.

Fox (This Is 40, Jennifer's Body) and Arnett (Arrested Development, The Lego Movie) star as April O'Neil, an aspiring reporter, and Vernon Fenwick, her cameraman and sidekick.

The characters both go way back.  April, the Turtles' closest human ally, made her debut via a comic book in 1984, while Vern was created specifically for the late-eighties animated series that helped turn Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman's odd creations into a worldwide phenomenon.

The actors also go way back with the property.  "I was a big fan, as a kid," Fox said at the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles press day in Los Angeles. "I had an older sister that was really into the movies, so I got into it because of her.  I also watched the cartoon.  I’m not going to claim that I read the comics because I didn’t, and I don’t want to get stoned for claiming that I did something that I didn’t do."

"I had a younger brother who was really into the Turtles, years ago," recalled Arnett.  "And then, right before I met [for this film], my young sons organically started really getting into the Turtles.  I sensed that there was something going on.  They were talking about the Turtles, and I realized they were watching the new animated Turtles on Nickelodeon.  And then, I started seeing their friends wear Turtles t-shirts to school." 

"It was pretty remarkable to see an entire new generation respond organically, and not be pushed into it.  They entirely discovered them on their own and fell in love with those characters, in the same way.  I thought that was pretty remarkable," he continued.  "So, by the time I did meet, I was really familiar with the whole mythology."

In this Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, director Jonathan Liebesman (Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning) reboots the theatrical franchise, providing a new cinematic origin for the pizza-obsessed siblings.  This new take on the beginnings of the Turtles ties April more closely to them, since they started out as a young April's pets before their mutation.

Unlike her onscreen counterpart, Fox never trucked with turtles as pets. "I didn’t have turtles because you have to keep them in cages, and I was always really against that, even when I was little," she said.  "I had a black cat.  She was a stray cat, and I named her Candy.  I thought she was magic.  I love cats and dogs.  I’ve had ferrets, pigs, birds and all kinds of things.  I’m an animal person."

It seems April O'Neill is as well.  In fact, her relationship with Michelangelo grows decidedly flirtatious over the course of the movie. "During shooting, we played around with that.  There was a Raphael/April connection, and then it turned into a Michelangelo thing," said Fox.  "That’s totally up his alley.  That’s who he is.  Mikey’s always been girl crazy.  That’s his personality.  I’m happy that it turned out that way.  Also, Noel [Fisher], the kid who plays him, is a really talented actor.  He steals the movie.  In my opinion, it’s Mikey’s movie."

Vern might look like the more obvious suitor, being a member of April's species, but Arnett explained, "It’s pretty early on in the movie that Vern makes his lame attempt at romancing April, and he gives up on it quite quickly.  And then, Mikey moves in there." 

"It’s hard to compete with a Turtle," he summed up.

Though most of the action in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles finds the title characters throwing down, April also gets opportunities to prove her mettle.

"We did initially start out doing some kickboxing and kickboxing training," said Fox. "And they would teach me on site.  We had an incredible stunt team, so they would teach us, as we went along.  They were the best of the best.  I was also pregnant, so I couldn’t do all of the stunts while I was filming.  What I couldn’t do, we had an amazing stunt girl that would do the series stuff for me.  But I did what I could, and that was a lot because I’m bad-ass."

In this movie, the Turtles themselves are being realized via entirely by way of CGI.  Using performance-capture technology, the actors playing the Turtles (Pete Ploszek, Alan Ritchson, Jeremy Howard, Noel Fisher) were on set acting against Fox and Arnett.

"When we were doing Transformers, Shia [LaBeouf] and I were just screaming things at the sky.  We had no references, at all, at that point, because how can you when you’re dealing with thirty-foot robots," Fox said.  "But with this one, we had four actors that were really, in what I consider a stroke of genius, cast by Jonathan because they were perfect for their roles and really embodied them." 

"When you’re doing movies like this, you do the scene with the actors, and then you have to do a clean plate without the actors there, so that if they want to use that shot, they don’t have to paint them out before they paint the Turtles in," she explained.  "And inevitably, in every single one of those, I was always significantly worse when the actors weren’t with me.  Because they were so good, they helped make me a lot better.  So, whenever you have the opportunity to work with real people, that’s always helpful. "

While Fox already had plenty of experience acting against digital creations in big budget event movies, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles represented an entirely new experience for Arnett.

Despite his unfamiliarity with the process, Arnett said, "I really enjoyed it.  On every level, it was certainly a departure for me, and I learned a lot from Megan in the process of making this movie," he said.  "Because Megan has done these big blockbuster movies, there’s almost a different language that you speak in these kinds of movies.  I remember being on set and watching one of the monitors with [producer] Andrew Form, and the camera moved in on Megan and I remember looking at him.  When you see Megan in certain frames and there’s a lot going on and a lot of action, she makes you think of big summertime action blockbuster movies.  I’m just used to being a jackass.  That’s not a joke."

Catch Megan Fox and Will Arnett sticking it to the Foot Clan when Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles opens nationwide this Friday, August 8th.

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