EXCLUSIVE: Film Makers Discuss TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES, Inspiration, Sequels & More!

<span style="color: red">EXCLUSIVE:</span> Film Makers Discuss TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES, Inspiration, Sequels & More!

Nate Best sits down with the Director & Producers of the new TMNT film to chat about Megan Fox, Turtle comics, the danger of attending screenings, sequels & more! They even threw us an Easter Egg to find!

CBM Interviews The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014) Film Makers (Jonathan Liebesman, Andrew Form and Brad Fuller)!

I've actually had the pleasure of speaking with Jonathan Liebesman (Director), Andrew Form (Producer) and Brad Fuller (Producer) a few times regarding the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film, but I thought I would share the following exclusive interview with the three amigos, in which we discuss the press sreening I attended (which Jonathan Liebesman also attended, unbeknownst to the rest of the movie-goers), Megan Fox, the inspiration for the film and more.

Note that the interview was conducted prior to the film being released, so the "hypothetical" discussions regarding sequels and characters may give us some great insight into the upcoming sequel(s).

Jonathan Liebesman: Have you seen the film?
Nate: I saw it last night.
Jonathan Liebesman: Oh good.
Andrew Form: I heard it was a good screening.
Nate: Yeah you know, I will tell you; I was pleasantly surprised.
Andrew Form: Oh, well thank you.
Nate: You kind of have to use the previous films as standard right?  You have the comics, the cartoons… It blew my expectations away.  I really liked it.
Jonathan Liebesman: I was in that screening too.  I did a risky thing for a film- maker.  I’ve done it before and it doesn’t go over so well sometimes, but you sit right in the middle of the fans.  I was in the front five rows.  You sit there and you hear everything people are saying to each other.  Stuff like, “That’s so f#@king dumb.”  My last movies, honestly from the talking… I probably shouldn’t have…
Andrew Form: So you had fun last nights is what you’re saying?
Jonathan Liebesman: It was unbelievable, because I think there was applause during every moment you wish there was. People were laughing at the right time.  When I realized that the movie was in a good way, was… and we try to, there were no pretenses that we were like this is like Batman or something that’s redefining the cinema of superhero movies.  It’s a fun ride that is true to what made me fall in love with the characters when I was a kid, which is that they’re just charming and they have an amazing dynamic.  I’m sorry; I’m telling you what I think of the movies...
Andrew Form: It’s like…one more question
Brad Fuller: Yeah…Time’s up…

Nate: No that’s great.  I’ve always wondered who is in the theaters when you’re there.  I know sometimes the actors will go in... They’ll sneak in or whatever.
You kind of addressed this already with the previous discussion... With this film did you feel any pressure to follow Eastman and Laird’s comics, or the original films, or the cartoons? Pressure to follow their story, or the characters, or did you go into it just to do your own thing?
Jonathan Liebesman: I’ll tell you what was important to. When I grew up in South Africa, I didn’t see Eastman and Laird’s comics.  I grew up loving the cartoons, watching them every day after school and loving the first two movies.  For me, those were the biggest influences for me.  I wanted to make sure there were mutants who ate pizza and said “Cowabunga!”  Those were the touchstones that were important to me. Michael Bay said to me the first time I spoke to him, he said the most important things to me, they have to be charming and they have to be fun.  And he didn’t speak about action at all, which I know no one will believe, but all he wanted was that they had to be charming and they have to be fun.  The other thing that was important was that Kevin Eastman was literally almost living in their office.  Cause they were just grilling him about everything Mutant Ninja Turtles.  Kevin would hand everyone a stack of the first comics and all the sort of different versions that he had worked on and I got those.  It was the first time I was leafing through everything and already as a fan.  It was interesting because I was unaware of a lot of the stuff that had happened and those became the visual influences for me, so when Michael was saying things like the design, each turtle should have a specific design, what I loved about Kevin’s stuff… Sorry buddy [referring to Andrew Form].
Andrew Form: No, talk, it’s amazing! I’m learning.
Jonathan Liebesman: What was incredible was how bad ass they were in the first Eastman and Laird comic. I wanted to try and have the stuff that I loved be visually bad ass and design-wise whatever we were doing, make sure it’s bad ass.  So make sure it harkens back to the original Ninja Turtles.  Those were sort of the influences.  It was probably for me, mainly the cartoons and the movies and then visually the bad-assness of Eastman and Laird.
Nate: I’ll tell you, you nailed the bad ass of the Turtles. Those action sequences with them were intense.
Jonathan Liebesman: Oh good, well thank you.
Andrew Form: We were never going to remake any of the other movies.  From day one we were always going to come up with an original story for this movie, but we had this unbelievable pool of characters to pull from.  So I think the first call we made was Kevin Eastman. “Ok… Let’s talk about who’s in this movie.”  April O’Neil.  Listen, Casey Jones could have been in this movie.  There are lots of characters and so we pulled all the characters and the writers came up with an original story, but it was always going to be an original story.  We were just going to figure out, who from the cannon was actually going to be in the movie.

Nate: In this film with April O’Neil, her story intertwining with the Turtles, when did that come about in the development of the story and why?
Jonathan Liebesman: Listen, Casey Jones is a hugely beloved character, but when I think of Ninja Turtles, the first human character that comes to my mind was always April O’Neil and the writers actually figured out a great way to get her into the movie.  I also think there aren’t very many female protagonists in today’s action films.  You’ve got Jim Cameron and Lucas who are the masters of that, but it’s fun in something like an all-boys movie to get in via the female point of view.  And so that’s sort of the impetus for her to coming and the writers already figured out a great way in.  I don’t want to jump to the next question, or if there is one about Megan Fox, but I think what she brings to the character, we sat with her and what you find when you sit with her is there is a lot more to her than meets the eye, so to speak. She’s someone who’s incredibly driven and someone who wants to prove something. Prove to people she’s more than what they think she is.
Andrew Form: And by the way she is also a super fan of the Ninja Turtles.
Jonathan Liebesman: Huge fan
Nate: Oh really?
Andrew Form: Oh for sure.
Jonathan Liebesman: Huge fan.
Nate: I knew she liked the second film…
Andrew Form: But she loves the Turtles, so Megan is in our family.  You know she’s in the Transformers movie.  We’ve been around her over the years.
Jonathan Liebesman: Like when you see her watch our trailer, or our movie, she loses her shit whenever Michelangelo comes on.  It’s unbelievable.  
Andrew Form: She loves Michelangelo.

Casey Jones - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Sequel
Brad Fuller: But you know… We had different stories.  Originally when we were developing, we had a script where Casey Jones was the lead.
Jonathan Liebesman: I read a Casey Jones script.
Brad Fuller: So it’s not like you dipped your toe and then that’s the road you went down.  We went down a number of different roads and then as a team we decided this was the lane we were going to choose.
Nate: As far as alternate stories go and the other things that you guys have looked at, hypothetically speaking that there is a sequel, or a couple, what characters would you like to see in the film and why?

Bebop & Rocksteady - Teenage Mutant Ninjat Turtles Sequel
Andrew Form: Well I would love to see Bebop and Rocksteady go at it with the Turtles.  I just think that everything that this movie, the movie we just made everything about it and how fun it is. I just think it would be unbelievable to see those two sets of characters go at each other and I think Bebop and Rocksteady also bring such comedy to the movie.  You know, that’s what we’re trying to do, just make it a really fun family film and I would love to see those two guys try and hunt down the Turtles.  It would be a lot of fun.

Jonathan Liebesman: Casey Jones for sure, because I think it would be fun to watch that dynamic.  Listen, we haven’t talked about anything, but imagine Will Arnett meeting Casey Jones.
Andrew Form: The young, good looking guy shows up.
Brad Fuller: We must say that we’re not thinking about a sequel beyond…
Jonathan Liebesman: We’re just spit-balling with you.
Nate: Yes, hypothetically speaking.
Brad Fuller: Ok good, because we just literally just finished the movie like a week ago and we just hope that people love it and if the studio is interested, that would be incredible.
Jonathan Liebesman: I love the movie so much, even if people don’t want it, I would make a short film sequel on YouTube.

Nate: At the end of the film; we’ve got Shredder there, he closes his hand and he’s got the ooze.  Are we going to learn more about Shredder, his injuries, why he needed a mechanical suit? Perhaps we'll see it in a sequel, or maybe there’s material that didn’t make it into the film that?
Jonathan Liebesman: Oh listen, I’m obsessed with the mythology around the characters.  I always want more, so if I’m lucky enough to be a part of any sequel and if anyone is lucky enough to make a sequel, I’m sure we will find that stuff. I love that stuff.  So the more back story, mythology, Easter eggs, I think we all love that as fans.

Baxter Stockman Easter Egg - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)
Andrew Form: We’ll give you one you right now; Baxter Stockman is in the movie.
Nate: Is he?
Andrew Form: Yes, he is.  He’s in one shot in the movie.

If you haven't seen the film yet, be sure to check out my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014) Review!

The city needs heroes. Darkness has settled over New York City as Shredder and his evil Foot Clan have an iron grip on everything from the police to the politicians. The future is grim until four unlikely outcast brothers rise from the sewers and discover their destiny as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The Turtles must work with fearless reporter April O’Neil (Megan Fox) and her wise-cracking cameraman Vern Fenwick (Will Arnett) to save the city and unravel Shredder’s diabolical plan. Based on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Characters Created by PETER LAIRD and KEVIN EASTMAN with a Screenplay by JOSH APPELBAUM & ANDRÉ NEMEC and EVAN DAUGHERTY, Producer MICHAEL BAY (the blockbuster Transformers franchise) and director JONATHAN LIEBESMAN (Wrath of the Titans) bring Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the popular franchise that has captivated audiences of all ages for decades, into the 21st century.
Posted By:
Nathan Best
Member Since 1/26/2004
Filed Under "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" 8/22/2014
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Pasto - 8/22/2014, 12:48 PM
Ugh, still upset that we're getting a sequel.

Lets hope that gets cancelled.
kalelhawj - 8/22/2014, 12:59 PM
This is why I love Jonathan Liebesman as director. He's also a fan. "I love the movie so much, even if people don’t want it, I would make a short film sequel on YouTube."
Nick56 - 8/22/2014, 1:02 PM
I really enjoyed the movie, excited for the sequel
NerdyKevin15 - 8/22/2014, 1:04 PM
Bring on the sequel!
RedRocBoy - 8/22/2014, 1:09 PM
Movie was awesome. Seeing it again Saturday morning. Definitely can't wait for the sequel.
valeriesghost - 8/22/2014, 1:10 PM
I enjoyed the movie for what it was. The turtles themselves were great and that is what matters most to me. I didn't catch Baxter Stockman in the movie though, anyone know what scene they are talking about?
RockHard - 8/22/2014, 1:14 PM
@Pasto One Could Only Hope
driver - 8/22/2014, 1:31 PM
Movie was Awesome when Turtles showed up and action was fun but Fox can't act. She just can't. Arnett was hit and miss and times but at least he had Hits, unlike Fox' only misses.
sKeemAn - 8/22/2014, 1:37 PM
I'm watching Sin City over this. I'm still supposed to take the rugrats to see this.
DarthSandwich - 8/22/2014, 1:40 PM
What was incredible was how bad ass they were in the first Eastman and Laird comic. I wanted to try and have the stuff that I loved be visually bad ass and design-wise whatever we were doing, make sure it’s bad ass.

Jonathan Liebesman is a hack and doesn't know what he is talking about.
They were bad-ass because they were small, they were underdogs and everybody underestimated them, it's not bad-ass when character is 7 feet tall.
newhire13 - 8/22/2014, 1:41 PM
Baxter was the black guy standing behind Sacks in April's video .
TankD - 8/22/2014, 1:42 PM
Are you kidding me with this garbage? They were hulking pieces of cgi garbage. you had a chance to talk to the director and not ask him why did you make them bullet proof and flex to shoot the bullets back? why didnt you make them smaller and more ninja like. why did you have to make them act so retarded? why couldnt you make a mature ninja turtles films that are true to the characters? that movie was true to NOTHING. anyone that ses any differnt does not know what there talking about. and im sorry has the taste of an infant.
Inhuman - 8/22/2014, 2:03 PM
TMNT - Shredder, Foot Clan
TMNT 2 - Casey Jones, Shredder, Foot Clan, Bebop and Rocksteady, Learherhead, Baxter Stockman, Mousers
TMNT 3 - Shredder, Foot Clan, Krang, Dimension X, General Traag, Granitor, Rock Soldiers

Let's goooooooo
Zuriel - 8/22/2014, 2:30 PM
Maybe in the sequel Beebop and Rocksteady can be small and ninja like since the Turtles are hulking mutants. That would be an awesome twist! Or Beebop could have a glider and Rocksteady would be a giant mech and April would fall and break her neck.
SuperSpiderMan5778 - 8/22/2014, 2:33 PM
fawk everyone who didn't like the movie. pull the stick out your ass. this movie was awesome.
Comedian03 - 8/22/2014, 2:52 PM
I'll gladly admit I was dead WRONG with my initial reactions towards this movie. I was on the hate band wagon like most people, the first trailer and tv spot didn't really do anything for me.

But when the last trailer was released I started thinking it might actually be a decent movie.

And it definitely was a pretty good movie. As a Ninja Turtles movie, they pretty much nailed it in every way possible. The ONLY complaint I have is about the design of the turtles' face. Other than that, I really don't have any major gripes, I enjoyed it.
NateBest - 8/22/2014, 2:55 PM
@newhire13 - Thanks for pointing that out! I was looking for him in the lab :o|
grif - 8/22/2014, 2:59 PM
i do not know why they are immediately like.. sequel time! this movie is not doing bad. but it is not a hit.
batmanvsuperman - 8/22/2014, 3:02 PM
Yes give me more turtles
NateBest - 8/22/2014, 3:05 PM
@CaptainN2 - The reviews hadn't hit yet for the film as the interview was a week before the film was released. Maybe you missed that part? It was right up there towards the top...

All of the "criticisms" regarding the character designs, etc., had already been addressed and I didn't feel it was an issue (I think they look great). Why would I ask them things that have already been addressed/answered?

In the end, I liked the movie. You didn't? I'm sorry to hear that.

I've got an idea - Why don't you line up an interview with them for the sequel. I would love to read it!

SaintofKiIIers - 8/22/2014, 3:09 PM
This movie honestly stunk. I can't believe any sane human being could enjoy such a deliberate attempt at ruining a great franchise. Worst movie of the year possibly the century, decade, and millennium... Have to wait and see when the sequels come out to see how it stacks against the other worst movies of the century
NateBest - 8/22/2014, 3:16 PM
@TankD - Unfortunately I had VERY limited time with the film makers. You've got a movie about 6'5" turtles that talk, love pizza and know ninjitsu... and they're mutants. Having their shells be bulletproof, or partially bulletproof, didn't seem like that big of a stretch. Maybe that's just me?

You also have to remember who the films are made for. Turtle fans and kids. "Mature" is the furthest thing from my mind when I think about the Turtles...

The original Eastman and Laird discussions regarding the Turtles involved the Turtles kicking buses, etc., maybe these guys weren't that far off?

Kevin Eastman was pretty happy with the film when I spoke with him, so I'll defer to his judgement regarding remaining true to the Turtles... He is, after all, one of the people that's been involved with the Turtles from the beginning and *continues* to be involved with them.
BlindJustice - 8/22/2014, 3:43 PM
Me after reading the above interview...
TankD - 8/22/2014, 4:03 PM
@Natebest Yea but he also is one of the ones that sold out the turtles to make millions so im sure he would be happy with anything.

There is nothing wrong with staying true to the turtles personalities and individuality. But it was not a step in the right direction. It was the transformers in tmnt costumes. It was an insult to people with intelligence and they just made it with a child mentality.

My ideal vision would be ninja assassin mixed with the first 2 tmnt films in the 90s. and kids still loved those movies and it had a more mature tone. when I was a kid I loved blade I always was into more mature films I feel like kids today either get something watered down or to complex for them to understand. Marvel strikes a perfect balance so did MOS.

Bullet proof turtles that shoot back bullets when they flex not that far of a stretch? Im sorry but I have the first vol of the original ninja turtle comics from the 80s and they were ninjas. fighting in the snow fighting shredder I actually have the comics that inspired the first film. where they still all wore red bandannas. they were stealth short and bad asses.
NateBest - 8/22/2014, 4:17 PM
@TankD - Blade is one of my all-time favorites. While I liked it, I don't think it would fit TMNT, especially when you've got to get it down to a PG-13 for kids. I DO agree with you that most people don't give kids enough credit.

They actually launched a line of Turtle toys in 2012 that had bulletproof shells... so it's *technically* old news???

Again, we're talking about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Nitpicking anything that's so absurd and over-the-top is kind of crazy :o)
NateBest - 8/22/2014, 4:19 PM
@BlindJustice - It was more than a little crazy trying to interview three people at the same time and get everything. It would have been MUCH easier if they had allowed video cameras. :o)
BlindJustice - 8/22/2014, 4:30 PM
@NateBest - I bet! Yeah, that would've made things easier for you.
SAMURAI36 - 8/22/2014, 4:31 PM
This movie was phenomenal. WAY better than Garbage of the Galaxy. Can't wait for the sequel.
m0th3r - 8/22/2014, 4:37 PM
Saw it last night..went in with low expectation so i was happy...

In top ten for the year, not top 5....

RangerStorm44 - 8/22/2014, 4:44 PM
I think a sequel would be great just learn from you're mistakes
CorndogBurglar - 8/22/2014, 5:19 PM

You have to understand something. As violent and cool as the original comics were, that hasn't been the Turtles for a VERY long time.

I have volumes of all of the original comics, like you. I LOVE them. But again, you have to understand the Turtles are not like that anymore, and haven't been since the mid 80's. They are kids icons now. The movie has to be somewhat jouvenile.

The first two films, as you brought up, were also ridiculously childish. Go back and watch them again. Yes, the first one had a bit of a darker feel to it, but it still had terrible acting, terrible jokes, and also seemed very childish at time. Secret of the Ooze? If you seriously think that movie is serious in any way, then i don't know what to tell you. Aside from Donatello, none of the turtles even pulled their weapons in the entire film. Thats not me exagerating either. They seriously do not use their weapons in a single scene. Go back and watch it. I guarantee you it is not how you seem to remember it.

But my point is this. As awesome as the Turtles were back in the original comics, they will NEVER be represented like that again in film. They know too many kids are going to see the movie. It just won't happen.

So, when you look at the past animated series, this film actually did stay true to the turtle's personalities.

They also mentioned that the mutagen was extraterrestrial in origin, which is something I don't think we've seen since the original comics. (One of the animated series' over the years may have used that though, i'm not positive.)

So yeah, it actually is closer to the overall mythos of the turtles than you think.

By the way, I've been a fan of TMNT since they were created. I've lived through all the changes, and I can honestly say this movie does nothing to change how I feel about them.
Doppelganger - 8/22/2014, 5:21 PM
Let's hope they shrink the turtles in the sequel and if they ever have to explain it just say the mutagen that was extracted from them in the first movie caused them to degenerate. The turtles were the size Bebop and Rocksteady should be after all.
CorndogBurglar - 8/22/2014, 5:23 PM
Also, anyone that says the jokes were childish, all I can say is this:

I feel sorry for anyone that hasn't laughed at a fart in the past 5 years of their life.
CorndogBurglar - 8/22/2014, 5:26 PM
Oh, and nice article Nate. I liked it.

Interesting to know that they had a script where Casey Jones was going to be the lead.

Also, since they're talking sequels now, i think this pretty much guarantees Bebop and Rocksteady, which would be awesome
JJTruth - 8/22/2014, 6:32 PM
What were the expectations for a movie about talking ninja turtles again? Be realistic for crying out loud.
WruceBayne - 8/22/2014, 6:42 PM
I see what you did there bro. Lol
NateBest - 8/22/2014, 7:21 PM
@CaptainN2 - Yeah, I'm just a reporter for the site [*wink*].You obviously haven't read any of my other reviews or bothered to learn much about the site. Go read the review and tell me where I didn't point out the flaws in the film, THEN feel free to come back and discuss the INTERVIEW.

IF YOU HAD BEEN PRESENT during my interviews with these guys, you wouldn't question that their passion for the film or the characters.

It makes me laugh when people have a different take on a film. It MUST mean the reviewer has bad taste, right? Nevermind the *other* people who have seen it and liked it. THEY must all have bad taste too, right?
Minghagz - 8/22/2014, 7:53 PM
Are there plans to have a mobile version of the site anytime soon?
MyloSteamwitz - 8/22/2014, 8:53 PM
Put Bebop and Rocksteady in it... THEN we'll talk.
NateBest - 8/22/2014, 9:00 PM
@Minghagz - Yes! There will be a mobile version of the site included in the upcoming redesign.
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