‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows’ Actor Brian Tee Reminisces About Growing Up as a Fan

Brian Tee and the rest of his castmates attended the world premiere of Paramount Pictures’ “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows” at New York’s Madison Square Garden Sunday. With a line that wrapped around the iconic arena and a few pizza and game booths on hand, the event was packed with fans of all ages, many of whom brought their own ninja eye masks to represent their favorite turtle. Though he plays Shredder, the mutants’ arch enemy, Tee could still relate to the excitement.

“When the first movie (1990’s ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’) came out, I remember going to the theater with my junior high friends, literally chanting ‘turtles, turtles, turtles’ during a prime sequence, and the entire audience jumping in with us,” Tee told Variety. “It’s one of my fondest memories. I loved it so much, and I actually went as Shredder for Halloween a couple of times, so to be able to play him now is a childhood dream come true.”

“Out of the Shadows” is a follow-up to the 2014 Michael Bay-produced reboot of the turtles cinematic franchise, also titled “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.” Created in 1984 by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, the crime-fighting, wisecracking, pizza-eating quartet of Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo, and Raphael have starred in films, cartoons, comic-books, video games and a plethora of merchandise for more than 30 years. While the movie Tee saw as a boy used puppets to bring the mutant turtles to life, the new films feature actors using motion capture suits.

“It’s a holistic performance, you get face capture, voice capture and body movement,” director Dave Green told Variety. When the turtles interact with human actors, including Megan Fox, Will Arnett and Tyler Perry, “we shoot those scenes with our motion capture actors on set, interacting with them, bumping into them, all this fantastic interactivity you couldn’t get with just computer animation. The scenes that take place in completely CGI environments, without Megan or Will, those are done completely on motion capture stages.”

Green, who took over the series from director Jonathan Liebesman, said he had to avoid the temptation to use too many computer graphics and “overthink what is a simple, human reaction from one of those actors,” he says. “We’re looking for those simple, organic moments where they are very human, because those are going to help the audience connect to something that would otherwise be all CG.”

Tee, who has studied kung-fu, Krav, boxing and other martial arts, says that the fight sequences between him and the turtles are highly mapped out and choreographed. “Every single beat, every single reaction,” he says. “It takes a lot of practice and it takes a lot of choreography, but luckily we’re working with the best camera guys and the best crew, to really show us how it’s done.”

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