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Mutant Mayhem’s Seth Rogen on Casting “Actual Teenagers” to Voice the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

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The teen voice cast of the animated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem had their minds in the gutter and their mouths in the sewers, according to co-writer and producer Seth Rogen. Paramount Pictures screened fresh footage from the Spider-Verse-style TMNT reboot during its slate presentation at CinemaCon in Las Vegas on Thursday, revealing a new look at the younger team of turtle heroes in a half-shell: Leonardo (The Walking Dead: World Beyond‘s Nicolas Cantu), Donatello (Cousins for Life‘s Micah Abbey), Michelangelo (The Chi‘s Shamon Brown Jr.), and Raphael (The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers‘ Brady Noon). 

“I love these characters — they were weird, noble, brave and smart,” Rogen, who also voices the mutant Bebop, said of the teenage turtle brothers at CinemaCon. “When I got the opportunity to put my own stamp on it, I knew the versions that had come before had never leaned into the teenage element. We thought: ‘What if we cast actual teenagers and we capture their insane teenage energy?’”

“And that’s what we did. They said a lot of disgusting things we couldn’t use in the movie,” he joked of the co-production from Paramount’s Nickelodeon Movies and Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s Point Grey Pictures.

Along with its young cast, TMNT: Mutant Mayhem features the voice talents of Jackie Chan (Rush Hour) as sensei Splinter, Ayo Edebiri (The Bear) as April O’Neil, John Cena (Fast X) as Rocksteady, Maya Rudolph (Saturday Night Live) as Cynthia, and Giancarlo Esposito (Star Wars: The Mandalorian) as Baxter Stockman. Causing the mutant mayhem: Hannibal Buress (The Secret Life of Pets 2) as Genghis Frog, Rose Byrne (Insidious: The Red Door) as Leatherhead, Ice Cube (Ride Along) as Superfly, Natasha Demetriou (What We Do in the Shadows) as Wingnut, and Paul Rudd (Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania) as Mondo Gecko.

After voicing Pumbaa in Disney’s 2019 remake of The Lion King and Donkey Kong in Illumination and Nintendo’s blockbuster The Super Mario Bros. Movie, Rogen used an unconventional approach when recording Mutant Mayhem: having the core cast record their lines together, rather than in separate booths as is the standed in animated moviemaking. 

“On Ninja Turtles, it was lovely because we were able to control the process a lot more. For every session, we lumped people together. So every time the four turtles recorded, they were together,” Rogen told The Hollywood Reporter. “Me and John Cena were Bebop and Rocksteady, and we recorded together. Ice Cube has a bunch of scenes with the kids, and they recorded together. So we really went out of our way and bent over backwards on Ninja Turtles to try to capture that improvisational energy that you get when a lot of people are in the same place at the same time. I actually saw how helpful it was from doing Lion King, and if that’s the tone and style you’re going for, then it is a great thing to chase.”

In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem, after years of being sheltered from the human world, the Turtle brothers set out to win the hearts of New Yorkers and be accepted as normal teenagers through heroic acts. Their new friend April O’Neil helps them take on a mysterious crime syndicate, but they soon get in over their heads when an army of mutants is unleashed upon them.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem opens in theaters August 4th.

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