11 Secrets from the 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' Set

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·New York Bureau Chief, Yahoo Entertainment
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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is about to get REAL.

In fact, after visiting the New York City set of the film – which arrives in theaters on Friday – that’s exactly how the cast and crew hope audiences view the fighting foursome of Raphael, Michelangelo, Donatello, and Leonardo.

“The world feels very, very real,” Will Arnett, who plays Channel 6 cameraman Vernon Fenwick, told Yahoo Movies. “I think it’s really important to keep it grounded in reality, keep it grounded in this world, especially knowing what everybody knows now.”

Megan Fox, who of course, stars as April O’Neill, concurs: “It’s very realistic, and I think that’s a big thing – just selling the reality so you stop thinking, ‘I’m looking at mutant turtles’ and it just becomes, ‘Oh, these are the heroes of the film,’ and you sort of separate from the toy or the cartoon aspect of it.” She continues. “Where I’m from in Tennessee, I was born next to a chemical plant and I’ve seen mutated creatures, so it’s not totally unrealistic.”

On that note, here are 10 more secrets uncovered on the set of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

1. April O’Neil and Vernon Fenwick are no warriors.
April, the reporter who befriends the Turtles, and her cameraman Vern, aren’t exactly ready to rumble at the beginning of the film. “She’s not what I would call a badass, per se,” Fox said. “She becomes one, maybe. She’s not like a Jason Bourne, CIA-type of character. She’s a girl that gets caught up in this and then ends up maybe developing a few skills along the way.”

“[Vernon]’s of the Indiana Jones-school of fighting,” Arnett explained. It’s very unorthodox, but he can kind of take care of himself.“

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2. April shows her maternal side.
Fox revealed: “In reference to her relationship with the Turtles and where it ends up, they wanted it to be sort of a Wendy and the Lost Boys [kind of] relationship, where she’s the mom they never had, and then of course — Oh, I almost said something I shouldn’t say. I almost revealed a plot point!”

3. Rifts and romance(?!) abound.
“Vern and Raph kind of butt shells a little bit,” Arnett teased. “Raph is not super-psyched about this guy, and Vern gives him a hard time and makes remarks about his size and his shell and stuff.”

But that might not be the only reason Vern and Raphael don’t get along. While Fox said there would be no love connection with April’s human pal, the same couldn’t be said of her relationship with a certain Turtle. “There is a maybe-bordering on romantic, weird psychological love between her and one of the Turtles. There’s a very deep bond.” When asked if that particular Turtle was indeed Raphael, she gasped, “Why would you say that? Why do you think that? No audible response but…” and made a gesture signaling the affirmative.

4. The Turtles are big.
According to director Jonathan Liebesman, the mutants stand at approximately 6-foot-7. The actors who played the heroes wore high-tech motion-capture suits complete with shells and helmets topped with ping-pong balls where their characters’ eyes would be.

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5. The Foot Clan, led by big bad Shredder, look like mercenaries.
“That just adds into the believability of the current world we live in,” Fox explained. “I think they wanted a significant threat, so that there’s a real fear and a real risk in the scenes, and it’s not as frightening if they’re 15-year-old boys … that have run away from home, or are mad because their stepdad works too much and doesn’t pay attention or whatever.”

6. So, who is Shredder?
We still don’t know, but several jokes were made about Arnett secretly playing the baddie, so maybe…

7. Expect to see knowing winks to other summer blockbusters.
“Anything that’s been a big summer blockbuster that’s done well and is visually stunning has been referenced [by the director] on a daily basis,” Fox emphasized, listing Jurassic Park, and movies by Steven Spielberg, and J.J. Abrams (lens flares and all) among those inspirations.

8. You might recognize some of the Turtle faces.
Raphael always has a toothpick and was based on Clint Eastwood from the Sergio Leone westerns, while the look of martial-arts instructor Master Splinter is inspired by Toshiro Mifune from an Akira Kurosawa movie. Further, “Leonardo has Russell Crowe’s eyes and Nelson Mandela’s lips, because he’s the leader,” Liebesman shared. “Donatello was taking Leonard Nimoy, like a Spock kind of thing.”

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9. Megan Fox has a TMNT confession to make.
While the former Transformers star credits her long and open fandom of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to helping her land the yellow jacket-wearing gig, her love of the series is based entirely on the old movies and TV shows. “I never actually owned any of the comics,” she admitted. “I’m not going to pretend.”

10. Make that two confessions.
“[Michelangelo] was actually my first crush, and I know everyone thinks that’s weird, but little girls have crushes on cartoon characters because it’s what we’re exposed to first,” she revealed. “So him and Zack Morris were my first crushes.”

Want to see Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? Visit our Showtimes page to get tickets.

Photo credit: Paramount