IAR EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: William Fichtner Talks 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' Blu-ray/DVD and 'The Homesman'

Tuesday, 16 December 2014 15:38 Written by  Jami Philbrick
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IAR EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: William Fichtner Talks 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' Blu-ray/DVD and 'The Homesman'

Actor William Fichtner is a true scene-stealer! For almost 20 years he has shined in every part he’s played on film and television no matter how small the role. 

Fichtner has appeared in such films as Heat, Armageddon, Go, The Perfect Storm, Pearl Harbor, Black Hawk Down, The Dark Knight, The Lone Ranger, Elysium, and most recently director Tommy Lee JonesThe Homesman. But he is probably best known to television audiences for his role as FBI agent turned fugitive Alexander Mahone on Prison Break, and his current series Crossing Lines. Fichtner also starred in last summer’s hit movie Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which was a reboot of the popular franchise and will be available on Blu-ray and DVD beginning December 16th. 

In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, when the Foot Clan threatens New York City, a group of mutated turtle warriors must emerge from the shadows to protect their home. Fichtner plays Eric Sacks, a famous scientist and the CEO of Sacks Industries who has ties to both the Foot Clan’s leader Shredder, as well as the origins of the Turtles. In addition to Fichtner, the film also stars Megan Fox (Jonah Hex) as April O’Neil, Will Arnett (The Nut Job) as Vern Fenwick, and Academy Award-winner Whoopi Goldberg (Ghost) as Bernadette Thompson, as well as Johnny Knoxville (Bad Grandpa) as the voice of Leonardo, and Tony Shalhoub (Pain & Gain) as the voice of Splinter. 

I recently had the honor of speaking with the great William Fichtner about his work on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, as well as The Homesman. The impressive veteran actor discussed Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, his knowledge of the source material before agreeing to appear in the film, if it’s true that Sacks was originally going to be revealed as the villain Shredder, if the actor took inspiration for his character from any real life CEOs, his friendship with Michael Bay, Bay’s role as producer, why he liked working with director Jonathan Liebesman, The Homesman, and being directed by Academy Award-winner Tommy Lee Jones

Here is what William Fichtner had to say about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Blu-ray/DVD and The Homesman:

IAR: To begin with, what was your personal awareness of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles property prior to making the new film? 

William Fichtner: The Turtles came a little bit after my cartoon days. I have four sisters and they all have children. Every one of them had a child that grew up in the ‘80s, so I was certainly well aware of who the Turtles were and their entire world. When I was talked to about doing the film, my manager called me about the movie. I hung up with him and called my nephew Mike in Buffalo, New York. I said, hey, Mikey. I was offered a role in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. What do you think about that? He said, “I do not think anything about it. You are doing it, Uncle Bill.” If you were close to any kid in the ‘80s, someone had a birthday party that was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles themed. I was certainly aware of it. I knew of the cartoons and heard that there were other movies although I had not seen them. But having worked with Michael Bay more than once, I knew what his thoughts were behind it. The more I learned about what they were thinking about doing with this particular film, I just found the whole thing exciting from the get go. I knew that what they were going to make was going to be unlike any Turtles project you had ever seen before.

When it was first announced that you were going to appear in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, you told the Huffington Post Canada that you were playing Shredder. When you originally signed on to the project, was it in the script that Eric Sacks would eventually be revealed as Shredder, and if so, why did that change?

Fichtner: Yes. There were elements in the script from the get-go that leaned in that direction. That was kind of my original understanding of it also. As time went on in filming, it kind of went in a couple of directions, and one of them was to go away from that. But that was my original understanding of it all. Once we changed and tweaked it, we found the best way to tell the story. What we ended up with, regardless of some of the original thoughts, alternately felt like it was a stronger film in the end. 

Did you draw inspiration from any real life CEOs when you were creating the character of Eric Sacks, or did you create him completely from your own imagination and what was written in the script?

Fichtner: I usually go with my imagination. No, I really did not have any particular sort of person that I was modeling it after. There were so many little subtle things in the script about where Eric Sacks came from, and what he was involved with when he was with April’s father. There were a lot of little things. You start to put the pieces together and you say, that is a really interesting guy. I tend to go more in that direction.

You mentioned your friend Michael Bay, who you have collaborated with several times before. Can you talk about your working relationship with him, and his influence on this film as a producer?

Fichtner: Day to day we did not spend a lot of time with Michael. Michael was shooting Transformers 4 at the time. Literally I think both of our start dates were within days of each other. But having worked with Michael the first time on Armageddon, Michael is a master visualizer. If I had to say one thing about Michael it is that he is a perfectionist. He has a vision, and he would like to see this vision fully realized. That influence from Michael was every bit in our movie and especially the amazing producers that work with Michael, like Bradley Fuller (A Nightmare on Elm Street) and Andrew Form (The Purge). These guys are just like Michael, they’re committed to excellence and getting it right. They want to tell the story the way they want to tell. That is what Michael wants, and that is what they do. Ultimately I think when you have that sort of guide map along the way, you can end up with a film that is as good as Turtles ended up being.

What was it like working with director Jonathan Liebesman?

Fichtner: Let me tell you right off the back. If I had to pick one surprise that the whole Turtles experience gave me, because I always walk away with something, it would definitely be meeting Jonathan. That was it for me. I loved working with the guy. He is a smart guy. He can sink right into the moment. He was incredibly articulate. Jonathan could think amazingly fast on his feet. I have nothing but good things to say about Jonathan. I count him as a friend and I sure look forward to the next time that I get to work with him again. That is the truth.

Finally, I recently saw The Homesman and really enjoyed your performance. Since we are on the subject of filmmakers, what was your experience like being directed by Oscar-winner Tommy Lee Jones?

Fichtner: I have not had an experience that was quite like working with Tommy Lee Jones. I mean that in an absolutely positive way. He is one of a kind. When you are around Tommy, pay attention because he is a smart guy and is clear about what he wants. I also recently saw the film. I think the movie is a really good film. I love him in it, and especially Hilary Swank. I have to tell you, about half of what I shot in that film did not quite make the movie. I created a different character than the one that ended up on screen. But it is what it is, and Tommy obviously had his reasons to make the film he did. I wish him well.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will be available on Blu-ray and DVD beginning December 16th. 

The Homesman is currently playing in theaters now!

To read our interview with Tommy Lee Jones and Hilary Swank about The Homesman, please click here

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