Nothing gets a conversation and/or debate going faster than an alternate casting. Everyone has their own opinion about what actor should play which role and more importantly, nobody can ever agree with anyone else’s picks. If it’s even slightly different than what you pictured in your head, you will immediately disregard it and ridicule the person who suggested it. The aim of the FanCast is to inspire conversation, create debate and provide ammo for the bloodthirsty nerds who can’t ever be wrong.
Now that a new animated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot has been announced, it’s high time we take to the internet for some good ole fashioned FanCasting. We here at SAW never turn down an opportunity to imagine ideal scenarios for a flick — especially when it involves our favorite pizza-loving, mutated, shell-rockin’ heroes. Here’s the rundown of talent I compiled to voice and/or star in the upcoming TMNT movie.
Let’s do this!
Donald Glover | Donatello
What you might have seen him in: Community, Solo: A Star Wars Story, Atlanta
Why he’d be perfect for the role: Geek-tastic, cerebral, smooth, bold yet methodical, and the”glue guy”. Donatello is the most well-rounded of the mutant turtle heroes and he carries a distinct energy that nearly defies conventional archetype but still feels familiar. The purpose masked, bo staff slinging character is a rare, but fun, one. I want so badly to see him get the Donald Glover treatment.
Glover’s love for the comic book arena is well documented. His range as a performer is immense. His movie star quality only seems to grow stronger each year. The dude knows how to milk then most out of a single line of dialogue. And he just exudes that “smooth, intelligent guy” energy. We buy him as a guy that can skateboard as much as he can tackle the complexities of humanity.
Donatello, meet Donald Glover. He’s going to be your best friend and we’re going to love every second of it.
John Boyega | Leonardo
What you might have seen him in: Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Detroit, Pacific Rim: Uprising
Why he’d be perfect for the role: We need a leader. We need a strong, substantial voice. We need someone who’s not afraid of the fight. We need someone to step in front. We need someone to be willing to take the dive for the greater good. We need someone that leads with heart and ambition first. We need someone to make all these traits and ideals believable. And we need someone who knows what it takes to anchor an arena larger than themselves.
That. Is. John. Boyega.
The man is a true, blue movie star and a flat-out gifted actor. Put him in Leo’s she’ll and we’ll be in great hands.
Riz Ahmed | Raphael
What you might have seen him in: Sound of Metal, Nightcrawler, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Why he’d be perfect for the role: Raph is complicated. He’s a hot-head with deep feelings; a character looking for purpose but also thinking of a good joke at someone else’s expense. His anger is a boiling plate that simmers every interaction that can boil over at any minute. But, he’s a fierce warrior, deeply loyal, and, again, not afraid of a good time.
Enter Riz Ahmed. A herculean talent that has an eye for the uncanny and the underdog. Not to mention an affinity for IP-based properties. Ahmed feels like a good fit for our complex, emo adjacent, sai welding mutant turtle. He’s bring the tormented identity issues to the surface, keep it relatable but not succumb to the test of turning Raphael into a joke. He’d be boisterous at the right times and see thing at the others. I think Riz Ahmed could do this character justice.
Caleb Landry Jones | Michelangelo
What you might have seen him in: Get Out, X-Men: First Class, The Florida Project
Why he’d be perfect for the role: He’s fast becoming one of the most talented “that guy who’s in movies” in recent memory. Say what you will about his wide range of script selections, the dude knows how to bring energy. And yet, he still keeps it unconventional in the best way possible. Michelangelo is a B12 shot in cartoon, super mutant form. Memorable, hilarious, and the life of the party. And you know what? … when I think of Caleb Landry Jones, I know I’m in for a wild ride. Bold character choices; deep backstory; nuance but turned up to 11; and always, always memorable. That’s a recipe for a prime surprise turn as one of superhero lore’s most beloved characters.
Is the choice unconventional? Perhaps. But no one would ever accuse Caleb Landry Jones of not making the most out of every character he captures. Energy, memorable choices, and a wide open runway to voice a character of pure fun, adrenaline. Yes to all of it.
Jeffrey Wright | Master Splinter
What you might have seen him in: Westworld, The Idea of March, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Why he’d be perfect for the role: Jeffrey Wright is a chameleon. Scroll through his IMDb and you’ll see a refined career of impeccable supporting performances and surprising anchoring roles. An indie darling, he has found himself more in the spotlight the last few years than ever before. All that to say this: He’s a master of voice manipulation and unearths character nuance to a degree most fail to capture.
Splinter is the emotional core for the TMNT universe. We have to buy-into the sage archetype 100% if the film is going to stick the landing. It’s arguably the lone character that demands as much acting prowess as it does comic book character familiarity. If you ask me, this sounds like a pitch-perfect scenario for one of modern American cinema’s finest, underrated, and eccentric talents. Give me Jeffrey Wright teaching the ways of the ninja AND life lessons all day every day.
Tessa Thompson | April O’Neil
What you might have seen her in: Thor: Ragnarok, Sorry to Bother You, Creed
Why she’d be perfect for the role: Because Tessa Thompson can do anything. To be honest, that ought to be reason enough. String any two movies together from her dossier of roles and you’ll find two completely different but completely engaging performances. Need a romantic leading lady? She’s got that. Need an edgy, vibrant supporting heroine? She’s got that. Need a wildly fun intergalactic character from an IP canon? She’s got that. The heart-wrenching emotional indie turn? She’s got that. Need big-budget blockbuster movie experience? She’s got that. Need her to command the screen and win every minute she demands our attention? She’s got that in spades.
So yeah, if you need a modern woman movie star with the chops to be a prime time news anchor, comedic player, and the energy that says, “I never back down”, then Thompson is the best choice. Again, I say, she can do anything.
Andy Serkis | Krang
What you might have seen him in: The Lord of the Rings, Black Panther, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Why he’d be perfect for the role: We’re still waiting on concrete details for plot and villain selection. So, this one may be a bit of a reach. That being said, if Rogen’s crew opts for the Krang direction, I can’t think go a more obvious choice than the Godfather of performance capture himself, Andy Serkis. Not to mention, the man has fashioned a wildly successful career out of portraying all of the best over-the-top sinister characters. Putting the genius alien warlord Krang into the hands of Serkis feels like a slam dunk.
Daniel Dae Kim | Shredder
What you might have seen him in: Lost, Hellboy, Always Be My Maybe
Why he’d be perfect for the role: Daniel Dae Kim should be a bigger deal. The dude just screams action movie star. He’s cut; he’s got a million dollar smile; his charisma is almost tactile; and he’s got a way of making the viewer feel what he feels. Now, diving head first into Shredder isn’t exactly a career defining moment. But the guy could anchor it in his sleep. That rich voice would play well in the darkened circles of Shredders checkered past and sinister pursuits.
As an arch enemy, Shredder is iconic. We need someone that’s willing to take bold swings; someone who will lean into the epicness of it all. I think Dae Kim has it in him. He’d bring a fun, villainous layer to role. Let’s start giving Daniel Dae Kim better parts, shall we? Maybe it can start here with the infamous Shredder.
Avril Lavigne | Random Musical Artist Cameo/Performance
What you might have seen her in: Over the Hedge, her music videos
Why she’d be perfect for the role: Remember the “Ninja Rap” from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze? Of course you do. It was not just Vanilla Ice’s best moment, but an artifact worthy of infamous ’90s glory. In a cinematic universe that boasted animatronic heroes, Corey Feldman, and so much campy awesomeness it only made sense to have an underground night club dance segment score the climactic showdown between heroes and villains.
Epic as that was, why wouldn’t we want to run back that trope? Now, Mr. Ice is played out. Ain’t nobody wanna see or hear that. So, who’s the right choice?
I’m going all-in on everyone’s favorite 2000s punk/pop Canadian rocker, Avril Lavigne. Why? Because she still holds up; because she’s instantly identifiable; because she’d amp up the energy in the best way possible; because the power punk sound still slaps; because I’m not ashamed to say I’d pay good money to hear an original song penned by the one and only Avril for our beloved Ninja Turtles. Don’t act like this isn’t the best (or most random?) idea ever.
Welp, there you have it. The talents I would tap for the upcoming Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot. Although, in due time, we’ll see what Rogen and Company will do with the slate.
Who would you FanCast?