Director Jonathan Liebesman Talks TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES, Deleted Scenes, Fan Criticism and How It Influenced the Film, Megan Fox, and More

     August 13, 2014


Now playing around the world is Jonathan Liebesman’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  As most of you know, TMNT made over $65 million dollars in its first weekend at the North America box office, which led to Paramount announcing a sequel for summer 2016.  What started out as a one and done comic book by Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman in 1984 shows no signs of slowing down thirty years later.

At the recent Los Angeles press day I landed an extended video interview with Jonathan Liebesman.  During our wide-ranging conversation, we talked about how the story changed along the way, creating the new look of the turtles, deleted scenes, what he learned from his friends and family screenings, working with Megan Fox, filming in NYC, fan criticism and how a lot of it was actually valuable, the specific influence that a fake trailer description had on the film, Easter eggs, if he’d like to do the sequel, the ease of working on the turles in a sequel because of all the research and development that went into the first film, and so much more.  If you’re a fan of TMNT and curious how the film came together, you’ll like what he had to say.  Hit the jump to watch.

Jonathan_Liebesman-TMNT-Teenage-Mutant-Ninja-Turtles-movieJonathan Liebesman Time Index:

  • :10 – Talks about how he’s been working on the project for so long.
  • :35 – How close is the final product to his initial idea for the film? Says it became funnier and more focused on the turtles over the course of development.
  • 2:09 – Talks about his approach to Shredder. Says if the bad guy is going up against four heroes, he needs to be ruthless.
  • 3:09 – How long was his first cut?
  • 3:47 – Says there are a lot of deleted scenes featuring the human characters.
  • 4:26 – Extended cut vs. deleted scenes. Says he’s not a fan of releasing deleted scenes, but he’s a fan of watching them.
  • 5:37 – April O’Neil as a strong female protagonist and his approach to female characters in action movies. Cites James Cameron and Luc Besson’s female leads as good examples.
  • 6:20 – Talks about working with Megan Fox and putting more of “the real Megan Fox” into the movie.
  • 7:15 – What did he learn from his first friends and family screening? Talks about the difficulty of screening the film without effects.
  • 8:46 – What was the toughest VFX sequence to complete?  Says the comedy and dialogue scenes were much harder to nail than the action scenes.
  • teenage-mutant-ninja-turtles-poster-leonardo9:57 – Filming on location in NYC. Talks about set photos and paparazzi, and not wanting people to see the motion-capture suits.
  • 11:47 – The approach to designing the turtles and how much pressure he had from the toy companies. Talks about getting tips from Michael Bay about making sure the turtles are different from each other.
  • 12:45 – Creating the turtles. Says they used Clint Eastwood as the model for Raphael, used Russell Crowe’s eyes and Nelson Mandela’s mouth for Leonardo, Bill Murray for Michelangelo, and Leonardo Nimoy from Star Trek for Donatello.
  • 14:10 – Talks about fan criticism online and how a lot of it was actually valuable.
  • 14:50 – Says in one of the comment sections he read a fake trailer description that talked about introducing the turtles in a specific way that influenced his film.
  • 16:30 – Easter eggs.  Did he plant stuff for sequels?
  • 18:05 – Talks about meeting really passionate TMNT fans at the premiere of Wrath of the Titans, and discusses fandom as a whole.
  • 19:30 – Would he want to come back for a sequel?
  • 20:19 – Says he’s getting ready to go shoot a TV show in New Zealand, the pilot and second episode of Shannara.
  • 21:18 – Talks about being excited to go visit Weta and Lord of the Rings stuff while in New Zealand.
  • 22:18 – Talks about identifying with fans that are passionate about something.
  • 23:07 – How much easier will it be to create the turtles in a potential sequel? Says they spent a year in R&D on the first film just figuring out how to make the turtles.

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