On Sunday, May 22, NYC was treated to a day full of charming chaos as Paramount Pictures hosted their premiere and press junket for TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: OUT OF THE SHADOWS. The day was gorgeous and as any other in The Big Apple, it was full of hustle-and-flow. However, for me (as well as a whole host of other “journalists”) it was a bit different. Different in the sense that only a handful of us in the city were able to wake up that day and say, “I’m about to spend some time with the cast of TMNT2.” Does it make us “cool?” [Shrug] Maybe. Maybe not. But one thing’s for sure, after having screened the film the prior night, for sure we were all psyched and full of anticipation.
Hosted by Fandango’s Erik Davis, the press conference started off with a good vibe. After a joke here, there, and introducing a Megan Fox-less cast into the room, the heat was on as one-by-one the rest of the cast was called upon, then right down to business.
When approached on being one of the only returning cast members in the group, Will Arnett breaks down “Vern’s” evolution. “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.”
And it’s more than just a returning cast member, in TMNT2’s master of menacing behavior “Shredder” returns with an upgrade. One that actually places a humanistic touch upon the super-villain. Tackling the role is Brian Tee, who gives this character more life than we first saw in the film’s predecessor back in 2014, or prior to. Brian explains, “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.”
As one of few new characters, Tyler Perry’s portrayal of mad scientist “Baxter Stockman” was an enjoyable treat. As one of the franchise’s stand-out characters, Mr. Madea clearly has lots of fun with it and serves as a major link to the atrocities that occur in the film. Tapping into what it was like when the role first erupted, Tyler Perry says, “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.”
By the way, what’s a TMNT movie without the franchise’s heroic hunk, Casey Jones? Taking things into his own hands, this vigilante really makes a name for himself in the franchise. What better person to cast as CJ than the “Green Arrow.” Wait, I meant Stephen Amell. This guy’s career has flourished big time and I can’t see it stopping any time soon after this movie. It’s safe to say his first feature is basically a franchise I’m sure will keep him around as long as Paramount decides to keep rolling these movies out. Casting Amell and giving the character new life was fun as he states. “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.”
Last but not least, the standouts in this film have to be “Bebop and Rocksteady.” Their clumsy characters live up to what they’re supposed to be and have always been. All muscle and grunge and intimidation and jokes and that’s about it. Smarts? Eh, not really the brightest bulbs in the batch. But enjoyable nonetheless. As it came to joining each other WWE’s “Sheamus” (Stephen Farrelly) and Gary Anthony Williams locked well with one another prior to production. Sheamus recalls, “I mean, from day one, we just hit it off, you know? When I found out that I got the role and that Gary was going to play Bebop, I got his number, called him, he got kind of weirded out at that in the beginning, this strange dude was calling him. But no, when we landed on set the first time we met everybody and then we went straight to an Irish bar.”
Seeing as it was the first live action incarnation of Bebop and Rocksteady, Gary Anthony Williams mentions they “watched and studied a lot of Rhino and Warthog clips.” There was a lot of knowledge as well because, “I was 20-something watching the Turtles. I was intimately familiar with the Turtles in cartoon form. So I knew what both consisted of.”
Considering Megan Fox didn’t attend the press conference, in some ways it was a blessing in the disguise. A room with such beauty just sitting there while there’s all this other macho jargon going on would have been a bit awkward. And quite frankly, a bit unfair for the guys who had a lot of fun talking about their work. We all knew for a fact Fox would have been the one the press would have focused on, leaving the others in a WTF type of mood. As a whole, breaking down their purposes and objectives, TMNT2’s press conference was as enjoyable as the movie. It lives up to what it’s supposed to do and if this breakdown isn’t clear on just how crazy this movie may be, take a listen to the uncut rawdio provided below.
TNMT2: OUT OF THE SHADOWS hits theaters Friday, June 3rd