Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles heads into its second weekend a champion. It is already considered a box office hit, a sequel was announced last Sunday, and it's all smooth sailing from here. The fans have spoken, and they love the ensemble behind these four brothers from the sewer. As we prepare for Mikey, Raph, Donnie and Leo to dominate the next three days once again, we caught up with scene stealer Noel Fisher, who delivers some of the funniest lines in the movie.
Look deep into Michelangelo's eyes, and you will definitely see Noel Fisher hiding in there. The resemblance is actually uncanny. And the two share a similar sense of humor. As easy to talk to and free spirited as you'd imagine holding a conversation with Mikey might be like, Noel Fisher shared his experiences in contributing to this 30-year-old franchise phenomenon, which shows no signs of slowing down. He even offers some thoughts on the impending Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2, and the possibly contentious relationship Mikey will have with Casey Jones as they both pine over roving Channel 6 News reporter April O'Neil.
Here is our conversation:
The theater I was in, you stole the show...
Noel Fisher: (Laughs) Thanks, man! That is very good to hear! It's fun. Mikey is definitely a character. That's why he's always been a fan favorite. He's always super fun, and funny. He's super chill. He has all those funny little zingers and one liners. But if I'm being totally honest, like, all the brothers...All the guys that played the brothers, they added the kind of energy and circumstances on set where Mikey really could exist and flourish. I have to give those guys mad props.
That's one of the things I felt the movie got completely right. This relationship between the four brothers is spot-on. You four guys have such a great dynamic...
Noel Fisher: I totally agree. Alan Ritchson, Pete Ploszek and Jeremy Howard are the turtles. When we got together, it was one of those funny things. We met in the final casting in Los Angeles. There, we had a lot of chemistry. But when we got to New York, and we started hanging out in New York, it was immediately clear that these three guys were my brothers. They are totally family at this point. That for sure comes out in the turtles. We wanted to bring that, and I think, for sure, we did.
Being a family, and feeling like brothers, what kind of blow was it when Pete Ploszek found out they were replacing his voice with Johnny Knoxville?
Noel Fisher: I don't know about any of that. I can say that getting to hang out with those three guys was the high point. It really was. We got to go to the park, and do everything together.
I don't want to use the word creepy. I'm not sure what the right word for it is. But I had your picture and Mikey's picture side-by-side, and the resemblance is seriously uncanny. I mean, those are your eyes. You can see your soul inside that CGI creation.
Noel Fisher: Andy Serkis says that motion capture technology is, in a weird way, a different type of wardrobe and make-up. That is a really great way of putting that. You really have to take your hat off to the guys at ILM who somehow managed to take this incredible technology and make these incredible looking turtles. And then actually put us into them, and our essence, if you will, into our Turtles. I look at it as if...If you Google any of the actors and the turtles they play, you can see some of them in there. Their facial features. It is kind of creepy, but very cool at the same time.
Yeah, I don't know if its rude to say creepy...But that's what it is. Maybe there's another word...Fascinating?
Noel Fisher: That's a pretty good word. Because it is, very. You can use creepy, too. Because it creeps me out, to see my eyes inside this giant turtle. There is definitely a creepiness to it.
As the movie was coming out last weekend, we heard a lot about the turtles' personality and what their IDs each represent. When you guys went into audition, did they specifically look for actors that matched the turtles own individual character traits? Was their any notion to have a sort of relatability between the actor and the character? Or was this strictly an acting 'job'. I ask that, because the creators and the filmmakers have all recently talked about how important the archetypes are in this particular franchise.
Noel Fisher: I'd like to think that the acting was the thing they were looking for in these characters. There is a very interesting freedom that motion capture gives you. It's not the look in the entirety of the actor. You are putting this person into a different kind of animal. Like in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, or any other motion capture movie that is starting to come out now. No matter what the person playing the character looks like, if they can bring the energy of that character...I also use the word 'soul', of the character...That's what audiences are really going to get drawn to. And that's the thing that motion capture technology allows the actors, in combination with the designers of the turtles, and animators, to really bring out that character for the audiences.
When we're watching some of these crazy action scenes, especially the snow chase scene, how much are you involved with bringing the Turtle character to life in those moments. Do they have you reacting to some of the action on set that will be inserted from VFX shots and practical shots later on, or in those instances, is it entirely a CGI character on screen, where you're not providing any of the action?
Noel Fisher: We are and we aren't. It is a strange combination. You are there on the day. On that sequence...That snow chase was the first thing we shot. Being in the truck, with me on top of the truck. That whole sequence was literally the first day we were on set. It was a funny day. We're getting used to all of this technology on us. The other three guys are all in the truck, and they kept having these scenes where they are talking to each other, and they are really close to each other, because the truck is being slammed around by this big hydraulic rig the production put together. They are getting their cameras latched onto each other, they are hooked together and they can't get away from each other. (Laughs) It's really funny. It was a learning curve, for sure.
Now, what about the nunchaku?
Noel Fisher: What do you want to know (laughs)?
Do you actually have to learn how to use this weapon, or is there a different guy in the motion capture suit for all of the crazy fighting and stunt scenes?
Noel Fisher: Well, first, the computer doesn't really do much without someone there doing the motion of it. In terms of our weapons, we all got trained by the stunt crew that did the movie. They are called 87-11. They are incredible. They are so dope at what they do. For a solid month we would go out a few times a week, and we would just train and train and train with our individual weapons. It takes a lot of time to get comfortable with them. They are such a big part of who the turtles are. It influences everything from their fighting style to their personalities. Mikey has the nunchaku. They are a little bit wild and they flail around a bit, sort of like him. He has to have a little bit of that flavor. If I'm going to do that character justice...And we all felt like this...We really really wanted to make sure we were as comfortable as we could be with our weapons. That said, in terms of the heavy lifting for the big stunts stuffs...Anything in the movie that required a lot of weapon work or a lot of stunt work, we wanted to make sure that looked as good as possible...No matter how long or hard I train, I'm not going to be able to do that. Jeremy Marinas, for instance, is the guy that did a lot of the Michelangelo stunts. He is just ridiculous, what he can do with nunchaku and leaps, and jumping around. You want Mikey to be able to do that. These guys are Ninja Turtles. There is a heavy influence on 'NINJA'. They did all the big stunts. I have to give them props for doing all the heavy lifting. They did let me do some stuff, because they wanted to make me feel better.
I don't want to take anything away from the other three guys, but as a I mentioned, you do kind of steal the show here. Looking at a character like Jar Jar Binks, and he's 'supposed' to be funny, but he's not, compared to this, where the CGI character is actually funny, how do you find your place, and balance that humor without going over the top or letting the CGI aspects get the better of you?
Noel Fisher: I'm glad that he comes off as funny. I loved Mikey growing up. Originally, I was actually, I have to admit, a little bit more of a Donnie fan as a kid. But no, he is just so fun. I think, as long as you...At least how I try to approach acting is not to force anything. If you're coming into a circumstance, and your in a scene, you need to make sure you are really putting yourself into that character, and you're not going for the jokes. Instead of doing that, you are just trying to be there and react to the circumstance. I'm really glad to hear that you liked it, and that I came through. That makes me really happy. It definitely is a fun ride. You get to go and just get sweet along in this crazy story.
It's really fast paced...
Noel Fisher: Once it pops off, it really doesn't stop. Hits keep coming. That's what you want with a movie like this, especially when you have these characters, who are a lot of fun. There is a levity to it. The time really flies, you get sucked up into it.
Now, they just announced the sequel even before last weekend was over. What do you know about it?
Noel Fisher: Oh, man. Those conversations are above my pay grade. We are signed for three. All of the turtles are signed for three. But yeah, I would love to do another one. I want to see Krang! I want to see Krang, BeBop and Rocksteady. Those are the three that I really want to see. I think motion capture Krang, BeBop and Rocksteady would be so bad ass! (Laughs) That would be pretty sweet to have this giant robot brain thing fighting the turtles! What could be better than that?
Despite the fact that your character's a turtle, and April O'Neil is a woman, it seems strange to me that there could be a relationship between them in a future movie, simply because she used to own this pet...
Noel Fisher: (Laughs) Well, I think that's one of the things I was happy about, the way they approach that in the movie. Because he is this kid. Mikey, it's an innocent crush kind of thing. Its innocent and teenager like. There is even a line where we're taking off, and it's in the background, and Mikey's like, 'Guys, I finally talked to a girl.' He's really excited about that. I can't imagine that it would ever be a serious thing. I'm not sure how that would work. I like how it is, it's a very light crush. It's kind of cute.
It's realistic. There was a question about that before the movie came out. Will these four teenagers acknowledge how hot Megan Fox is?
Noel Fisher: It didn't go too far with it. It stayed just right. It stayed very Mikey, and it was very innocent. IN that way, he is the perfect character to do that with. In that way, he is definitely the most childlike out of the turtles.
I think it sets up a dynamic for Mikey to have with Casey Jones, if he's brought in as April's love interest. Of course, Mikey is going to be jealous of Casey. That has to be fun to figure out that relationship.
Noel Fisher: That would be fun. That's another character I'd like to see back, man. Casey! That would be fun. It would be like, what does a little kid do when he gets jealous? That could be really funny.