Taylor Lautner Cast as Leonardo in ‘Ninja Turtles’ Reboot [Updated]

Published 3 years ago by , Updated September 18th, 2012 at 8:53 am,

taylor lautner ninja turtles Taylor Lautner Cast as Leonardo in Ninja Turtles Reboot [Updated]


It’s been a rough couple weeks for die-hard fans of the “Heroes in a Half Shell” – as producer Michael Bay dropped one controversial Ninja Turtles tidbit after another. As a result, emotions have been running especially high with many fans of the 1980s cartoon series (and comic book source material) fearing that Bay is poised to once again ruin fond childhood memories (remember the flames on Optimus Prime?), this time with a live-action Turtles film adaptation that removes fan-favorite aspects of the lean, green, fighting machines.

Unfortunately, we’ve now received word of yet another controversial Ninja Turtles announcement – the casting of Twilight star (and teen heartthrob), Taylor Lautner, in the role of Turtle squad leader Leonardo.

The now-infamous producer officially announced the Lautner (aka Team Jacob) casting on his blog – asserting that the young actor is set to voice and “perform” as Leonardo in the Ninja Turtles reboot, a revelation that will no doubt send shockwaves through an already tense and fired-up Turtles fan base.

Here’s what Bay had to say about the casting:

Everyone here is really excited to have Taylor on board. He’s already an awesome martial artist and really fits the mold of the exciting Turtles movie that we have planned [...] Some people hate on Taylor but everyone just needs to relax. He’s a great actor. Everyone just complains about him because of Twilight. But did you see him in Abduction? No? Then relax. I’ve said this before. We know what we are doing and are going to deliver a fun Turtles movie. A lot of pissed off fans are going to have their tails between their legs by the time the movie releases.

The news comes in the wake of several other controversial TMNT announcements – as well as, arguably, equally dismissive responses from Bay. First it was revealed that a new origin story for the titular heroes was being crafted – one that removed their terrestrial roots in favor of making them inter-dimensional beings (i.e. aliens). Next, after a tide of fan outrage, the change was solidified by an official title for the reboot - Ninja Turtles, obviously dropping both the “Teenage” and “Mutant” elements of the original. The one-two-punch came as a blow to long-time fans who were hoping for a more true-to-form retelling. However, with TMNT co-creator Kevin Eastman partnering with writers Josh Appelbaum and André Nemec on the script, cooler heads managed to get past the shake-up and remain excited for what Platinum Dunes has in store – especially if fan-favorite villain Krang would make his live-action debut.

However, even the most patient Turtles fans are likely going to be nervous about Lautner’s casting – as the choice suggests that Bay (and director Jonathan Liebesman) are positioning the film as a goofy star-studded money-maker instead of the gritty and grounded remake that many die-hard fans had hoped to see.

Leonardo Ninja Turtles Taylor Lautner Cast as Leonardo in Ninja Turtles Reboot [Updated]

Casting Lautner as the squad’s leading-turtle will likely prove to be especially exasperating for long-time Turtle lovers – since it would indicate that similarly young and “buzz-worthy” actors will be cast as the other reptilian alien heroes. Had Lautner been cast as Michelangelo, or even Raphael, fans might have assumed that the less outrageous Turtles (Leonardo and Donatello) would be played by more serious acting talent; however, considering Leonardo is the most “honorable” and “level-headed” member of the group, Lautner’s casting would indicate that further announcements aren’t likely to be any more encouraging.

Similarly, it’ll be interesting to see what Bay means by “perform” – as we can only assume that the Ninja Turtles are going to be brought to life by the same type of technology that turned Andy Serkis into Casear for Rise of the Planet of the Apes. As a result, while some fans might have been able to handle Lautner voicing the character, it sounds as if the actor (and whoever else Platinum Dunes casts for the remaining Turtles) will likely be doing a lot of motion capture performance as well.

No word yet on who those other actors will be but, in the meantime, check out the first concept image of Taylor Lautner’s Leonardo.

On a side note – this article should certainly teach you the value of clicking on in-text links.


Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for further updates.

Ninja Turtles hits theaters in the U.S. on December 25th, 2013.

Source: Michael Bay

Get our free email alerts on the topics and author of this article:


Post a Comment

GravatarWant to change your avatar?
Go to Gravatar.com and upload your own (we'll wait)!

 Rules: No profanity or personal attacks.
 Use a valid email address or risk being banned from commenting.

If your comment doesn't show up immediately, it may have been flagged for moderation. Please try refreshing the page first, then drop us a note and we'll retrieve it. Keep in mind that we do not allow external links in the comments.

  1. Can they make two of the turtles female (Michelangela and Raphaella) and have them played by Vanessa Hudgens and Miley Cyrus? It really would be a dream come true.

    Vic, Screen Rant… can you all make it happen? I would be forever indebted to you all.

    • Quote “He’s already an awesome martial artist…” Do the actors really need to be martial artists for the movie? The good thing about motion capture is they can have REAL martial artists perform the actions and superimpose the actors’ facial expression.

  2. OK, I’ll admit it, you got me. Bravo Ben! :-D

  3. I hate information sites on April fools day you never know whats real

    I’m assuming this is a joke

    • If you’ve read the whole article, and didn’t just skimp through it, you’ll know if it’s real or not… ;)

  4. I hate ninja turtles I mean they’re turtles that somehow learned karate I can’t wait to see this movie flop and win every raspberry award perhaps even cementing its own category

    • um…it is explained throughout the franchise how they mutated, and how they learned karate. i

    • Are you kidding me :/

      “Turtles that somehow learned karate” Their NINJAS ninjas for pities sake. Nokarate, ninjutsu and stuff like that not karate! :/ Bay get’s such bad comments, I don’t understand he did fine with Transformers. Okay what has been said about TMNT so far is a bit off but I’m still gonna watch it if it is finished/ released. fans don’t quit a series due to one possible bad thing… Possible! ha!

      Dudes really chill. Lol too bad Taylor isn’t *Such a shame* … :)

  5. What is really sad is I was even thinking possible joke figured this is exactly what I expect from this movie

  6. Thank God its a spoof….

    • Lautner or no Lautner, the movie is still going to be a mess.

  7. April Fools. Not going to get me.

  8. Holy moly you got me. And its not even April 1 anymore. almost donkey kicked my monitor thru the wall

  9. You know what would be great about this? If this article gets passed around the internet as factual and somehow picks up the Hollywood Rumor Mill thing and the idea for Taylor Lautner goes across Bay or the other producers desks and they think “HOLY CRAP!!!! That’s a GREAT idea… We get those Twilight fans in here and we’re GOLDEN!!!!”……… All thanks to you guys here at the Rant…. It’ll be another example of when a practical joke goes bad :-D

    • I wouldn’t be surprised if Taylor Lautner is on a list of possibles. Hollywood did try to make him an action star with that “Abduction” movie.

  10. LOL he said Taylor was a great actor??? Further proof that Bay just needs to go away… forever…. in a violent or calm manner. This dude has no clue.

  11. Thank God this was an April Fool’s joke. I was just about ready to kill myself.

  12. The irony in this April Fool’s piece is that it’s truly consistent with the crap coming from Hollywood. To really be a joke article you should have written about Hollywood making a GREAT story with a great director, producer, and acting talent. Now that would be a great joke.

    • The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises and The Hobbit (among others) have all those things you mentioned.
      IMO there are still a few good movies out there.

      • Rare exception isnt a good argument – for any topic.

  13. I’d have no problem with Lautner doing the motion capture work for the character as a martial artist. But as far as acting goes, he’s proven that his acting isn’t up to snuff 4 times already. I’m actually somewhat of a Twilight apologist, but he’s clearly the worse of the series’ lead actors.

    As far as Abduction goes, that movie came in at 4% at rotten tomatoes. So what if the guy is a good athlete, the technology is engineered to translate Lautner’s performance directly onto the big screen. That’s what the whole Andy Serkis controversy was about, and to depend on Lautner to be able to convey the complex emotions of the team’s leader is just asking for trouble. I think it takes a special talent to really be able to come through on voice work, and while Lautner may be able to squeeze out some convincing moments in live action (heck, he’s definitely gotten better since 2008), I don’t think he has what it takes for this particular role.

  14. Just an FYI, here in the UK, news of Taylor Lautner playing Leonardo was broadcast on BBC radio 2 yesterday… guess those guys don’t check their sources. ;)

    • Joshi – Thanks! Another writer had mentioned it to me as well. I was ranting for hours on Twitter about it. Can’t believe it – thought we spelled it out pretty clearly to click on the links. I get why some readers don’t but… a major news outlet?

      • In fairness, BBC radio 2 is generally meant for older folks, it’s entertainment value tends to be… well not very entertaining. I feel like, for that particular radio station, it was about par for the course, I think the rest of the BBC would have checked a little more closely.

  15. i wont to merry taler and justin but i dont know wich one to pick

  16. las tortugas tartarugas ninyas es la tira que muestra la vida de oriente. el otro dia me cai en la cueva y habia un splinter. que mal el cateo que te deja sin catering. el dia esta frio y es un clima que aparecio por experimentacion de un goma, seria bueno que dejaran todas las palomas sucias muertas y que en la plaza principal se muera lo injusto que la ciudad sea cosa de hombres cowboys soy yo un ranger de texas. si la pelicula empieza en una sala de una alcantarilla ya sucedio. que pasa si empieza en un museo o en un lugar selavatico welcome tu de glam jungle jam pizza !!!

  17. slim shady is a better leo

  18. Often, in order to remove status effects, you will have to equip healing items on your hero.
    They were born with special powers due to
    the possession of a genetic trait known as the X-gene.
    There is no such thing as a completely altruistic act.

    The charity has a partner trading company-Help for Heroes Trading Company Ltd-which enables the charitys name
    and logo to be used on commercial merchandise.

  19. Hey I love Taylor and I want him so badly!