Earlier today, after patiently waiting for what feels like an eternity since the project was announced, fans saw the first glimpse of the new live action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie in the form of a teaser trailer. Directed by Jonathan Liebesman and produced by Michael Bay, the new installment makes the case for a present day TMNT cinematic universe featuring Megan Fox as April O’Neil and William Fichtner as The Shredder. Nerdist had the opportunity to discuss the TMNT franchise with screenwriter André Nemec and he wasn’t afraid to delve into the aliens origin story controversy, putting a new spin on familiar characters and the tone of the upcoming film. In that same conversation, Nemec expressed his appreciation for Turtles co-creator Kevin Eastman, the thing that he likes most about the relationship between the characters, and other writing influences.
When you tell a new version of such a recognizable property, what element did Nemec and writing partner Josh Applenbaum use to stay consistent? “You know, the canon of the Turtles always seems to be, or harkens back to, at its basic bits, a story about family and a story about friendship and a story of humor and a story of brothers. I think that ultimately, when you look at all of the different stories, whether it’s, again, the Laird comic or the cartoon now or the cartoon from the late ’80s, the movie where they’re in the suits, The Secret of the Ooze, it really always boils back down to a story about brothers, and that really was the most driving principle for us, was really making sure that that component and that energy was sort of at its central component of the movie.”
All that being said, aside from the source material, what were some other influences that Nemec and Applebaum drew from? “You know, they don’t make a lot of them these days but when you harken back to the old buddy cop movies, whether it be Lethal Weapon or Midnight Run or Rush Hour, those movies that have the, without getting too heady, a love story component between buddy cops… I’m a firm believer you want to go to the movies and you want to have a good time. You want to eat gobs of popcorn when you’re watching it and be thrilled.”
According to Nemec, there was a bit of Turtle boot camp involved in taking on the responsibility of bringing Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello and Raphael back to the big screen, including sitting down with co-creator Kevin Eastman. How did that go for Nemec and Applebaum? “[W]e spent some time with him and we really talked to him a little bit about what the Turtles meant to him and what his evolution with the Turtles was… But you do, you want to immerse yourself, it would be disingenuous to take on a project like this and not be familiar with all of the things that are out there.” Nemec added, “[M]y partner and I thought it was very important to talk with Kevin and really see where his thoughts were and where his thoughts came from and understand those things and we’ve certainly remained friends with him to this day, which bodes well for Turtle fans that he doesn’t hate us.”
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles opens in theaters everywhere August 8, 2014.