Will Arnett, Stephen Amell, Tyler Perry, and several others gives us some insight and behind the scene stories from their time on set for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows.
Last week, The Knockturnal had the chance to sit in on two press conferences for the newest film in the TMNT franchise, Out of the Shadows. For the first one, co-stars Will Arnett, Stephen Amell, Tyler Perry, Brian Tee, Gary Anthony Williams, and Stephen Farrelly go on to talk about bringing their iconic characters to life, following Tyler Perry home, Casey Jones’ mask, and much more.
Q: What was most important to you in terms of the evolution of Vern in this movie?
WA: The evolution of Vern, yeah, that’s the burning question. What could I possibly do to take it to the next level? No, you know, I think it was important overall for everybody that we kind of knew what we’d done right in the first movie and what we’d done wrong, and we wanted to kind of capitalize on the things we did right, we wanted to have more fun and kind of tell a story that really resonated and made sense within the, you know, the sort of the canon of the Turtles. For me, personally, for Vern, it was kind of fun to be able to come back and do something a little bit different. He’s kind of on this path that you think is kind of shady but ultimately has a sort of a little bit of redemption, so that was good, had a little bit of something to do. But overall it was important to kind of make a bigger, more fun exciting Turtles.
Q: Brian, you’re new to the Shredder role so I’m curious about Shredder’s evolution too. What did you want to bring that’s new that we didn’t see in the first film in terms of Shredder?
BT: I think I wanted to bring a groundedness, I guess a humanness to Shredder ‘cause I think over the years even in the movies in the ‘90s you never really saw a face, there was just this mask and this kind of presence, and to bring that, along with this groundedness and this human form is really what I wanted to do, you know? He’s got to be kind of the baddest of badasses, if I can say, in this movie, and you know, to have that groundedness is what I really wanted to bring.
Q: Preparing for the role of Baxter Stockman, what did you look to for this version of Baxter Stockman? Did you go to the comics? Did you go to the animated show?
TP: Well, when I first got the call and I got the offer, I went back and tried to do some research and then I go, wait, he’s black. So when I saw the history of him, I was like wow, this animation kind of looks a little bit like me, if my hair were different. So that’s where we came from, with the producers and the director, they were very clear on what they wanted him to be and how they wanted him to be, so I just kind of surrendered to the whole vision and it all fell together.
Q: Developing Casey Jones, in terms of honoring what came before but then introducing something new to the character, how did you find that balance?
SA: Well, they did me a big favor by giving Casey Jones who’s been in the Turtles canon since the inception of the Turtles basically, they gave him a unique backstory in this movie in that he’s a corrections officer. And we don’t get in this movie quite yet the full-fledged five alarm fire Casey Jones that a lot of fans of the Turtles and the cartoon and the comics are used to. This is a Casey Jones that’s trying to figure out what his path is. So we get glimpses of that, but the fact of my motivation is that I’ve bumped up against the idea of being a police detective in the New York City Police Department my entire life, and it hasn’t worked out. That allowed me to take a Casey Jones and make it my own. So without that backstory I would have been – I mean, I would have figured it out hopefully, but this helped a lot.
Q: Stephen, it’s no secret that the WWE has a hectic schedule. How did you land this role? Where did you find the time to shoot it? And was there ever any consideration of brokicking of the Turtles?
SF: Every day. Every day is was a struggle not to brokick one of the Turtles. For me it was tough. That was my biggest concern about the role when I got offered the – when I got the opportunity I was just concerned it was going to interview with the WWE schedule. Like for example, last night, like the last two days of doing, you know would have figured it out hopefully, but this helped a lot.
Q: For the cast, what were your directions in terms of acting? Were you allowed to sort of go as broad as you wanted? Were there limitations? Were you just sort of free to interpret as you wished?
SA: This was my first big studio feature film and I was actually worried that it would be rigid, because I didn’t have any idea. And obviously we wanted to honor and respect what was on the page, but beyond that I found it to be one of the most collaborative invested sets that I’ve ever been on, just in terms of let’s make the best scene possible. And a couple of times we would put a scene on its feet, wouldn’t work, so we’d just go back to the drawing board, do it again, and come up with new things. And I know for my character personally, I’d constantly have the writers and the director and the producers coming up to me and saying, cool, we got that. Let’s give this try. Let’s try a new line here, let’s try this there, and you’d be amazed, I know for me personally, a ton of that stuff ended up in the movie, so that’s a very fun set to work on in that type of environment.
TP: I wasn’t that interested in being collaborative in the sense that for me, when I’m hired to do a job, I want to be sure that I’m doing what I’m being told to do, rather than coming in trying to take over, and saying this is what I think, this what I – so but what I love about is, as Stephen was saying, the director, producer everybody was all saying, well, why don’t we try this, why don’t we do this? And so for me it’s like lay back, let’s figure out what’s going to work here and then follow that direction. And it all worked well, so I’m very excited about it.
Q: Stephen, what’s it like getting to play somebody with the kind of earnest naiveté after four years plus of –
SA: Sullen looks?
Q: Of sullen, brooding.
SA: It’s very exciting. You know, the first scene that I got to shoot in the movie which is not Casey’s first scene chronologically, but it was the scene where Casey meet both April and the Turtles. And Casey thinks the Turtles are aliens, that they’re gonna eat him. And you know, that was my first day, first major scene filming, and you know, I was beside myself for the first four, five hours just trying to bring it at a level 10 out of 10, and Andrew Form, our executive producer, turned to me at lunch, which was actually dinner ‘cause we were shooting nights, and he turned to me and he goes, “Got a Casey Jones. Feels like we got a Turtles movie.” And it was – I mean – he was just making a casual comment, but it imbued me with so much confidence and so much goodwill and good feeling for the rest of the production that I feel like me personally being in such a good space because of that experience brought an earnestness and an enthusiasm to Casey Jones which, I mean, I love playing Oliver Queen, but I had a blast playing Casey Jones. It was so much fun.
Q: What do you feel about the issue in Hollywood, diversity and inclusion? Here’s the sad part: We do have to keep that dialogue going ‘cause they’ll forget.
GW: It’s reality, and thankfully, like one of the people who have brought color in the movies, like seriously, is sitting up here with us wearing a hat with no logo on it. I don’t know what that’s about, Tyler. I had a hat that had Gary on it, he won’t wear it. Tyler’s odd. He’s odd. But thankfully this guy has really brought not only diversity but he has opened a lot of eyes, and I’m not here to pump sunshine up Tyler’s skirt, but he has opened a lot of eyes to the fact that there aren’t that many movies that just include everybody.
Q: Stephen, did they let you keep the mask Casey Jones wore in the film?
SA: Did they let me keep the mask? I don’t want to keep the mask. It doesn’t fit. You think that in the midst of this gigantic film we would have taken a mold of my face but nope. And I wore it for two straight nights and it pushed on this part of my face and I would complain and Megan would tell me that I was a sissy so I would stop complaining. By the way, that’s not the word she used. And then the next day we were filming in an alley, same alley in New York City, and I got a sinus infection and almost begged off work for the first time in my life. So if I get to don the mask again, we’re gonna get that sucker fitted.
Q: This is for Will. I want to know how much you think a bag of your hot air would actually sell for.
WA: I’m quoted as saying the other day less than the price of the ziploc bag it’s in. I can’t imagine – you know, it was a funny thing, I thought that was a really good bit that they came up with, the idea that he’s like – the height of absurdity of our obsession with, you know, the idea of celebrity and how meaningless it is that this guy was really – I guess the people of New York do think that he saved the city but that he thinks that, you know, at this point his hot air is worth something is pretty funny.
Q: So what is each of your dormant animal gene and why?
GW: The peregrine falcon. And I had to get that out because [Stephen] keeps trying to take my animal. Like we’ve been doing interviews the last couple of days and I love the peregrine falcon, it’s the fastest animal in the world. It dives at like 200 miles per hour. And this freak of nature, he didn’t have his own animal, and he tried to take mine. So peregrine falcon, I just wanted to get it out there.
Q: So Stephen, what’s yours then? Is it the –
SF: Well, my first option would be the peregrine falcon.
Q: What about you, Amell?
SA: Giraffe. ‘Cause I don’t want to be the dude that’d be like “I’m a lion,” so I picked giraffe, because everybody thinks about it for a little bit and goes, ah, that wouldn’t be half bad.
WA: I got to say, I’d be a black lab, like a dog. You guys are all living out there in the wild. I’m in somebody’s house in Beverly Hills. I’m sleeping 18 hours a day, I’m watching TV, people want to pet me all the time, they feed me. I don’t have to do shit. God, you guys are dumb.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadow is directed by David Green, written by Josh Appelbaum and Andre Nemec, and stars Megan Fox, Stephen Amell, Will Arnett, Brian Tee, Tyler Perry, Brittany Ishibashi, Gary Anthony Williams, Stephen Farrelly, and Laura Linney. TMNT: Out of the Shadows will be in theaters June 3, 2016.