UHMC: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Despite my extreme skepticism and outrage, I will be watching Michael Bay’s TMNT abomination next year. That being said, I know I’m not the only person who has thought about, debated, and dreamed about what could happen if some of our favorite or most-anticipated movies had different cast members or even writers and directors. I’m sure everyone at least once has even thought about who would be cast in a new reboot or re-imagining of their favorite franchise. With Social Media today, online campaigns run amuck for better or worse trying to have the fans’ voices heard (and in all likelihood ignored) to actually make these things happen. It’s a double-edged sword, though. When official movie pages on Social Media announce any updates, their fans respond/react accordingly. And if it’s bad… well, you know the rest.
In the spirit of all that and in light of the reboot and re-imagination of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” I have decided to create a new category on my page with my suggestions for what I believe would be the best casting choices and beyond for past, present, and future films. This will be my first of many to come in what I call
THE ULTIMATE HYPOTHETICAL MOVIE CASTING (or UHMC)
In regards to casting, I do so based at least partly on characters these actors have played in past rolls. So in regards to the turtles, I believe that the four cast would work regardless of CG, makeup/prosthetics, or full suits like the 1990 original film. (Disregard physical transformations such as bulking up, stunt training or martial art skills needed for now. I’ll get to that later.) I should also say that this would be a TMNT for my generation; the generation that grew up watching the shows and movies in the 80’s and 90’s.
Raphael/Paul Dano: Paul Dano has evolved tremendously as an actor. I recall his roles from “Little Miss Sunshine”, “Prisoners,” and now “12 Years a Slave” and based on those performances, I believe he would portray Raphael as hard-nosed, constantly challenging any authority (especially Leonardo’s) all while trying to battle his personal demons (and lose.)
Donatello/Zachery Quinto: Quinto possesses this awe-inspiring presence (especially after watching him pull off a Spock that obviously made Leonard Nimoy proud) with just the right touch of quiet rage when necessary. Quinto’s tone of voice and flawless enunciation could easily make hearing him blurt out hi-tech speech believable and hilarious if need-be all at the same time.
Michelangelo/Ryan Reynolds: This should be the most obvious and easiest argument for me to make of any of the turtles. All he needs to do is channel “Van Wilder” and yell about pizza every five minutes and he’s set.
Leonardo/Joseph Gordon-Levitt: I’ll admit that this is my cast choice that I have the most reservation towards. My biggest argument for him was his role in “Inception.” A leadership role, yes, but it left much to be desired for character development. It should be noted that all this is pending a solid script, which I will get to later.
Splinter/Peter Dinklage: A character that I would have re-invented to a certain degree. I imagine Splinter as an educated man (of course of lover of Renaissance art) who was also a life-long student of martial arts partly because of the torment he suffered from others his entire life being born a dwarf. He would be a brutal and abusive sensei who would show the definition of “tough love” to the turtles. Dinklage is a giant in his own right based on his performance in “Game of Thrones” alone can display quite a range between drama and comedy.
Shredder/Ken Watanabe: I challenge anyone to offer a better suggestion. Robbed from an Oscar in 2001 for his role in “The Last Samurai,” along with his minor but eery role in “Batman Begins,” if you’re truly going to follow the original storyline of TMNT, who else could it possibly be?
Bebop/Common: NOW things are getting interesting, right? Bebop (and Rocksteady) have never been in a TMNT movie. They didn’t even appear in the comics, but in the animated series for kids for the first time back in 1987. Even though both were portrayed as moronic street punks, I would imagine for the darker reboot, they’d both be failed pro athletes with an anabolic steroid addiction. Anyway… I would love for Common to play the warthog/human hybrid. He is known for playing bad ass, suave characters with what I believe to be hidden genius and poise. (See “Smokin’ Aces” and “Wanted.”)
Rocksteady/Kevin Durand: Have you seen this guy? At 6’6″, he’s a massive and terrifying man best known from his roles on “Lost,” “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” and “Smokin’ Aces.”Maybe I’m guilty of typecasting here, but can you blame me? He’d be the same loose canon with rage issues always at his whit’s end with Bebop.
Krang/Doug Jones: Acting is hard. Acting well is very hard. Acting well while wearing tremendous amounts of makeup and elaborate masks takes real skill. This skill is something that Doug Jones has proved time and time again in his roles on “Pan’s Labyrinth,” and the “Hellboy” series among others. I would be so curious to see how Doug Jones would approach the role of an evil alien overlord.
Baxter Stockman/Mos Def: I’m fighting every temptation not to say Jeff Goldblum. This one is a bit tricky. Although in the original comics and every television series in the 2000’s had the incredibly soft mad scientist as Black, the series I grew up with in the 80’s portrayed him as a cocky White human fly. I would meld those two story lines. I think Mos Def would nail it as the quirky, not-all-there scientist who is easily manipulated as a human and then a total nut job as a giant mutant fly.
April O’Neil/Abigail Breslin: I refuse to cast Anne Hathaway or Jennifer Lawrence for this role. Not because I don’t think they’d be able to pull it off, I just refuse to give into clichés and regardless, I think Breslin would be better. The sassy news reporter who befriends the turtles and is their first real introduction to the would outside of the sewers. Throughout the history of the franchise, she’s been shown as anything from a helpless sap who’s always getting herself into trouble all the way up to a legit ninja in training. I would tend to lean toward the former. It’s the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, not the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and ninja TV reporter. But I digress. Abigail Breslin has shown me to a be an extremely brave and versatile actress (“Little Miss Sunshine,” “Zombieland”) that would do April O’Neil proud.
Casey Jones/Aaron Paul: Even when I was a kid, I thought Casey Jones was a demented individual. Can you imagine the potential of a fleshed out and more adult-themed backstory for this character? Maybe a recovering drug addict with extreme rage and anti-social issues but makes up for it by protecting people from those worse than him. Or something like that… Aaron Paul’s character in “Breaking Bad” is my strongest argument for his ability to pull off Casey.
I would put the ENTIRE PRINCIPAL PRODUCTION (that’s script, story board, director, production design, creature design, etc.) in the hands of one Guillermo del Toro. (But I would certainly be more than happy to write the script myself.) Most of you have heard me write and talk about del Toro before. He wrote and directed “Pan’s Labyrinth” one of my favorite movies of all time and also directed a laundry list of Spanish suspense thrillers and the “Hellboy” series. He has an amazing imagination and eye for stories involving fantasy worlds, monsters, and giving them “a soul.” I’d gladly wait as long as it took if I knew that del Toro had total creative control of the franchise.
I guess now I’m at the part where I’m forced to talk stunts and fight choreography. In my eyes, there are two ways you can do this: either bring in stunt men for all the fight scenes and bring on the principal actors just for dialogue (like what was done in the 1990 film adaptation) or go “The Matrix” route and train all your actors with whatever they need to learn. I personally think it’s a decision that the actors should be free to make on their own and determining what they’re most comfortable doing based on the fight choreographer and the amount of visual effects involved for these stunts.
If you have ideas or suggestions of your own for casting, directing, or whatever, please let me know. Do you like the cast I came up with and do you agree with my arguments? Why or why not? This is MY Ultimate Hypothetical Movie Casting. What’s yours? Any movies or franchises you want me to try next? Let me know!