Tonight, the Turtles are rising up, but this time, with a more diverse and excited cast than ever before. With Omar Miller as Raphael, Josh Brener as Donatello, Brandon Mychal Smith as Michelangelo, Ben Schwartz as Leonardo and Kat Graham as April O’Neil, in “Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” watchers are promised a “fiercely original” version of the Turtles like no other.
“What I love about this revamped Turtles is that it’s so fiercely original,” Graham said. “Down to the animation, my character, just everything feels so original, with still the classic characters of the turtles. I think that there are certain things that they preserved and certain things that they brought into the cartoon to make it really special.”
The iconic story of mutated teenage turtles battling evil super villains has been a beloved tale since its birth in the 80s. Since, many generations’ childhoods have been spent imagining that they were Michelangelo and Donatello through the iconic action figures. For these adored actors to truly become the turtles and April on television and to be the first of such a racially diverse cast, they explain is an honor.
“It’s definitely been surreal for me,” Smith said. “My mother sent me a video. I had to go find a VHS player and it was me as a ninja turtle at six years old and it honestly brought tears to my eyes because for now to be twenty plus years later to be a ninja turtle, in reality, it truly is a dream come true and I couldn’t be more honored. You know, I really want to give so much thanks to our creators, Ant (Ant Ward, co-executive producer) and Andy and everybody over at Nickelodeon for believing in us. I mean this is a bucket list item.”
While most of the cast have more experience in on-set acting, they explain that bringing animated characters to life requires more of their personal take. While the cast is in the booth, they are alone with possibly the directors and writers, but with lack of visual, “you really have to get your mind working and commit to the material that’s on the page,” Miller said.
The concept of a brotherly love and relationship is brought to life through the cast’s relationships with their siblings. From producer, Andy Suriano’s relationship with his two older brothers to the bond shared between individual actors with their family, the theme of sibling bickering and interaction is very much present behind the making of the Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
“I can incorporate inside jokes and family and all kind of stuff because I have five brothers of my own so a lot of the dynamics of bickering with brothers is very accurate and Ant and Andy have done a great job of portraying that,” Miller said.
Order an extra large pizza and tune in tonight, Monday, Sept. 17 to watch Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on Nickelodeon.