Interview: Noel Fisher, Michelangelo in TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES
By Clarke Wolfe on August 6, 2014
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles hits theaters this Friday and the road to bring the turtles back to the big screen has been a little rocky. Nevertheless, fans are anxiously awaiting the newest movie featuring their favorite heroes in a half shell and a cast that includes Megan Fox, Will Arnett and Whoopi Goldberg. Nerdist interviewed Michelangelo himself, Shameless‘s Noel Fisher, and talked to the actor about working in the motion capture suits, re-teaming with director Jonathan Liebesman and the tone of the latest installment of the live-action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
At this point, fans of fantastical things onscreen in movies or TV are used to the necessary evil of CGI. However, advances in motion capture technology, like we’ve seen in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes or Peter Jackson’s King Kong, has allowed for the animation to feel a bit more personal. Actor Noel Fisher, who voices the character of Michelangelo in the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie, also participated in the mo-cap process to bring the character to life as he explained to us recently, saying, “Motion capture is still kind of a new technology so it’s still kind of unknown as to exactly what it is and how it works but, yeah, in some ways its kind of similar to a normal acting experience. You’re there on the day, you go in, there’s a make-up trailer, you get all these dots put on your face that have to do with the muscles on your face and them being able to track the muscles so that they can really accurately place your performance into the turtles. But it’s our bodies, its our faces, the whole thing is basically us doing it and then they have this amazing technology to put a costume on and the make up on and kind of paint this really incredible animal-Ninja Turtle creature on top of us.”
When one signs up for a project like this, the director can make all the difference. Did Fisher enjoy re-teaming with Ninja Turtles director Jonathan Liebesman? Said Fisher, “This is the second time I’ve worked with [Jonathan] Liebesman. I worked with him on Battle: Los Angeles and so Jonathan and I go back a few years. He’s somebody who, I think, shooting a movie like this that’s so visual, it needs to have a really visual and unique style to it because they’re turtles and we’ve never seen characters like this on the big screen, done the way this movie is doing them. You need to have somebody helming that who has a really, really amazing visual ability. It’s pretty incredible what he’s able to do with the technology. He works so fluently and well with the technology, it’s crazy. What the turtles get to do and the way that Jonathan shows them doing that I think is going to blow people away, I think it’s pretty cool.”
The tone of this movie is something that has been a topic of conversation over the last few months. With summer blockbusters becoming darker all the time, where would the Turtles fall on the spectrum? Fisher told us, “I think that vibe is important for this particular franchise, for sure. Something like Batman, you can do The Dark Knight, it’s a much darker world and something that I think they tried to do is kind of strike a balance because there’s been so many different incarnations of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. There’s the stuff that I grew up with, which is really kid friendly, and the movies in the ’90s are, if you watch them again, like I did for this movie, they’re very fun and poppy and very much aimed towards kids… You have the Nickelodeon show now that’s also very kid friendly for this whole new generation of kids who are getting to enjoy the Ninja Turtles. And then you also want to be able to satisfy the people like myself who grew up and want a little more edge to it and want a little more gritty action and have a little more of that hardcore-ness, while at the same time being able to appeal to the younger generations who are getting into it now. So I think that’s an interesting balance to strike and I think that’s what they’ve done with it so I’m looking forward to seeing the reaction from everybody because it’s one of those movies that everyone can enjoy.”
On that note, what about this mysterious pizza scene that director Liebesman teased us with last month? Did Fisher have any comment? “A pizza scene? [Laughs] There may be something involving Michelangelo and some wonderfully delicious New York ‘za.”
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles starring Megan Fox, Will Arnett, Whoopi Goldberg with Noel Fisher as Michelangelo, opens in theaters everywhere this Friday.
Image by RIKER BROTHERS