Fans can have very different ideas of what the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are supposed to look like, depending on how old they are. Old fogies may have first come across the team in the pages of Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird’s gritty, twisted comic book, and like them that way. Slightly more spry gray hairs could remember them from the wisecracking, late ’80s cartoon series. If your memory doesn’t quite go back to the ’80s, maybe your first introduction to the Turtles was from their 1990 live action film, that split the difference in tone and presented the team as actors in foam rubber costumes. And then there are whole groups of young kids who may have been introduced to them in their 2007 computer animated feature, TMNT, or babies who know them from the almost claymation-looking TV series that started airing on Nickelodeon last year.
The point is, though there are slight variations in how the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have been presented down through the years, they’re well-known characters at this point, and there are several generations of fans out there who could potentially be horrified by the upcoming Michael Bay-led reboot of the film franchise. And seeing as the Turtles in this movie are not going to be played by stuntmen in cumbersome costumes, but are instead going to be brought to life through motion capturing actors in a method that we keep getting reminded will look quite a bit like what James Cameron did to bring those big blue people to life in Avatar, a large part of the burden of not pissing all of those fans off is going to be on the shoulders of the actors getting mo-capped. Actors who, thanks to a casting report from Deadline, have now been revealed.
The first bit of casting news we got regarding this film was that internationally famous hot chick Megan Fox was on board as famous news reporter and unlikely Turtles’ best friend, April O’Neil. This gave the film a little bit of star power right out of the gate. When choosing performers to bring the world’s most fearsome fighting team together, however, Bay and his people have been signing up lesser known names. Last week we learned that The Hunger Games: Catching Fire actor, Alan Ritchson, would be playing Raphael, who is cool but rude, and now, according to Deadline’s report, we can add Pete Ploszek as Leonardo, who leads, Jeremy Howard as Donatello, who does machines, and Noel Fisher as Michelangelo, who’s a party dude.
Who are these three new guys? Basically just fairly anonymous but working actors who are best known for getting on an episode of a TV series or landing a small role in a movie here or there—nobody you would particularly recognize (unless you’re a huge fan of Howards’ work as “Dead Nerd” in Buffy the Vampire Slayer), and nobody who you can instantly feel safe with giving the task of bringing an iconic character to life.
What do you think of the choice to use fairly anonymous faces for this film? Is it good that a project that’s already going to be weighed down by all of the baggage we’re bringing to it is refraining from using more known names who would show up with even more baggage of their own? Or, seeing as any famous face would get partially obscured by being turned into a CG turtle anyway, is not giving some of the hot young actors out there the opportunity to step out of their comfort zone and completely disappear into these roles something of a missed opportunity? Wouldn’t casting Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Leonardo and James Franco as Michelangelo have afforded a movie that most people are pretty weary of a little bit of good will? Ah, whatever. They had us at Megan Fox, anyway. Cowabunga, ya’ll.