TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES Exclusive: Tohoru Masamune On How DAREDEVIL Is Responsible For TMNT

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES <font color=red>Exclusive:</font> Tohoru Masamune On How DAREDEVIL Is Responsible For TMNT

In a recent interview, we had the pleasure of chatting with Shredder actor Tohoru Masamune about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and we also discussed how Daredevil helped bring the iconic characters to life!

Most comic book fans who are familiar with the heroes in a half shell from IDW's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are likely aware of their connection to Marvel's Daredevil. Eastman and Laird used their love for the Marvel comic to influence the origin story of the turtles.

The idea is that the same chemicals which blinded young Matt Murdock in the accident then dripped into the sewer and mutated Donatello, Raphael, Michaelangelo, Leonardo, and, of course, Master Splinter. Other connections such as The Hand and The Foot Clan and Stick and Splinter's names are also difficult to miss and fun easter eggs for fans of the comics.

While recently chatting with Shredder actor Tohoru Masamune about his performance in 2014's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, he shared with us his love for the comics. We learned about just how much effort the actor put into researching the role and his connection with the comics from when he was younger.

We also went into a ton of detail about Daredevil's influence on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. If you're interested in listening to the audio portion of our exclusive interview with Shredder actor Tohoru Masamune, you can do so via the podcast player below. 

Literary Joe: You said you based your version of Shredder more off the comic than the cartoon, right? 

Tohoru Masamune: Yeah. Interestingly enough, because when I was a young child, I lived in Canada, but then we moved to New England. So that's where Eastman and Laird were from. So I do remember, my initial exposure was a friend saying, "Oh, there's this crazy comic book out from a couple of guys out of New Hampshire, and it's called Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles." And I remember thinking that was the funniest thing that I'd ever heard. And I had to go out and get it, and I read it. And as I was saying to you, Joe, it's so funny, because it was the first issue that Shredder comes out. And he talked about his past, and it's funny that who would have guessed we would be talking right now? But it's really interesting.

Oh, another interesting thing too, which I don't know if you guys are aware of, which I thought was neat in my research was, when they were coming up with these characters for the comic book, they were thinking of Matt Murdock. You guys may know the story anyway. But they're throwing these things together. And I guess they're saying that the idea was, he's thinking it's a TCRI truck or something like that. It's carrying the mutagen. I think in the original comic book, it hits an aquarium, and it hits this person who is just some random person, but obviously, he goes off and becomes Daredevil.

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Literary Joe: That's right, and it's funny because we learned that like twenty years ago. I remember we were kids, and we saw the Daredevil movie, we were like, yeah, that's the Turtles! You know? And that was in 2004?

Tohoru Masamune: Yeah, totally. And I think there was a thing where you know, The Hand. Right? That makes sense. Right? And the Foot Clan. And here's another one too, is Stick and Splinter.

Literary Joe: I remember thinking that when we watched the Daredevil Netflix show.

Tohoru Masamune: Yeah. So, it's funny. I just loved the research. It was so much fun. And I remember going to a comic book store and saying okay, I gotta revisit Daredevil. So I went to a comic book store around here. So I go up to the guy, I'm thinking, all right, this guy probably knows more than me. I said, okay, let me ask you about Daredevil. How do I get to know this world? Because I don't want to spend too much time on it. Because that's not the role I was working on, but I thought it was important. And he's going, "Oh man, I've got some issues that'll knock your socks off." He goes, "come with me." So I thought, this is the right guy to talk to.

And he knew everything about all this stuff, and he was going off about the different versions of it; he's talking about the different incarnations of Matt Murdock and Daredevil. And he kept on saying, "I didn't like this part, this series, because he was too moody for me. I mean, how many rainstorms can you handle?" And then I get all self-conscious because I'm thinking to myself, "Oh, did I make my Shredder too moody? Oh man, am I going to be that moody Shredder that no one likes? And then I thought later, "You know what? Screw it. I am Shredder!" He goes, "Yeah. He's going to be moody as all hell." So it was very funny.

*If you're interested in checking out our last chat, which Tohoru mentions in this interview, you can do so via the podcast player above.*

JVL: So you said; obviously, you've been familiar with the turtles for a long time. What did it mean to you and be able to play Shredder in the sense that you got to bring him to life for the first time in years?

Tohoru Masamune: In years, yeah, for sure. Well, the thing that was cool about it, I think that's why I wanted to go back to the comic books. I don't know if you guys liked the IDW series. I loved it. I went off of the original because that was my original exposure. So I was going off of that. And I'm one of these people; I keep doing my research in whatever it lands on. And oddly enough, it was very much in line with what they wanted. And that was the weird part. When we finally met, we were completely on the same page. Maybe they were thinking that way too.

I remember the IDW series, which I've always liked. I don't know if you remember, there's a micro-series with villains, where he's talking with Kitsune, and it's pretty cool. It's a pretty cool issue. Where he was resurrected and would be immortal, he was having this nightmare where he would fall into the afterlife. But then he decides, "Oh, great. Another realm to take over?" And it's like, you're just here temporarily because you're immortal. So don't mess with the order of things. And Shredder, I mean, Oraku Saki was saying, "All right, great. Whatever. Here's another realm I can now conquer." And then he rounds up all the zombies, and then he finds the castle. And he says, okay, so there's the leader, you know? And he said, now I'm going to take him. And he said I noticed, as he caught up, he started breathing heavy. You know, he is very skilled, but he's older. And they fight, and he ends up killing them. And then the original person that warned him don't mess with t peace of the things. It was like an older version of him. He goes, "That's your fate. You will conquer everything, including the afterlife, but there will always be the younger version of you that will come that will defeat you." So there's that, that struck me.

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And there's another one too, where I think it was a secret history of the Foot Clan. I think that was IDW, and it's all about going immortal or how Oraku Saki became immortal. And, I think there's a thing where you had to drink the potion, and I guess that would be like the mutagen or whatever that was. And then you have to commit harakiri, and then you're bathed in that for a long time. And finally, you emerge, and then he came out immortal. And there's this great closing frame where he's looking out at New York City, and he says. "To conquer a city of lights." And it's funny because every time I go for a run around Shakespeare Park, or wherever they have stairs, and I was running up that thing. That's part of my training is I hit these stairs. It's great because when I get to the top of the stairs, I get this great view of LA, and I always just kind of stand up there, and I look out. I just had that moment, and I think I found it. I took a little break to think. So, it was the last frame where he emerges after committing harakiri, and sitting in the mutagen for God knows how long. And he comes out immortal after a lot of pain and suffering, and then he says, "Lord, you will be ready, ready to bring the Foot Clan to greater glory and ready to meet your destiny. And our paths will cross again, Oraku Saki. And we will rule all from a city made of lights."

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And so, I would always go up there when I was prepping, and I would be sitting there looking. Yes, a city made of lights. And I don't know if I thought of it in terms of as far as its meaning, but it's a great career bump. And the honor to be in terms of cinematic history, I suppose there's that honor. But it was kind of neat to take this story and internalize it and own it and live it. And that was pretty cool to do that. And there was so much material on it too, and as I was saying, it's so weird for something that goes so far back. Because I specifically remember that conversation because my buddy Todd would always come up with the weirdest stuff. So I would always count on anything he would suggest. Okay, that's going to be weird, and I'm going to like it. And I remember that checking out the comic book and reading those original things and sure enough, they knocked me off of the roof in that one too. Although I think the difference is that it was April O'Neil, I think, kicked me. But I believe in the original comic book, I think Donatello threw his bow staff, and that knocked me off. And there was a thermite grenade, which didn't exist, but I guess I didn't get that. They didn't give me a thermite grenade, which was a bummer, but hey, you can't win them all. 

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But there was that part, I guess, maybe, as an actor, what it meant to me to tell a story that had been in my system for so long. And I don't know if it even came through. Because I like to take the iceberg approach to any acting is that you do all this crazy stuff, you tell this full story, and maybe a tiny bit comes through. And if it's sort of like, this kind of very darkly lit shade, I mean, who knows if it came through, but I kind of feel like that's what made it fun. Because whatever came off, that was all there, and it was kinda neat to be able to go way back and get resurrected and have that whole thing. That was great; those were fun, where we finally meet because that goes back to the beginning. Because he killed my brother, right? And that's what I'm avenging, and there are a couple of versions of it. But that was certainly the original. So there was a lot there, so it wasn't just this rat and a transformer fighting. (Laughs) There was a lot of stuff going on.

*This interview has been edited for clarity. Joshua Vargas-Lloyd, credited as JVL, co-hosts.*


 

 
As the fallout of Kira's investigation drives Dr. Lin into isolation, Elle and Justin move forward with the AI Lilith's development. The familiar faces of Zander and Carmen challenge the mission of the project by raising questions about the AI's past and future. How will Lilith adapt to all these conflicts? It's up to you.


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