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

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    • April Fool’s HAHAHAHAHA

  2. you go to hell michael bay, you go to hell and you die…

  3. april fools this is just to sick to be true….

    • wait, was it the whole article or just the link? man i hope it was the whole article…

  4. Hah! Ben, I never believed this for a second!
    Okay… maybe you had me there for a fraction of a second :P

    Happy April Fool’s everybody!

  5. LMAO…This isn’t a April fools joke i should’ve seen this coming a mile away.Could Bay at least get the chick from Big Bang Theory to play April O’Neil?!

  6. Ahi Haa, even Screen Rant enjoys a April Fools Day joke.
    Funny thing is this is the 3rd year in a row that someone has used Bay as the person who would be at the center of the joke.
    Today is my birthday so I’ve learned over the years to not believe almost anything said on this day. Good try though ;)

    • Kevin7,

      LOL, that’s a heck of a day to have as your birthday. :-D


      • Vic,
        It always makes it interesting. My daughter loves it though because she can always bust my chops.
        But I’ll admit as a kid it drove me nuts. I always fell for the everyone forgot gag or that my gift was only a pack of pens or even one year I got a shovel and was told that was it. Of course now I think back and laugh and enjoy the fact that my friends and family took the time to make my birthday memorable.
        But as a little kid I was distraught.

        • happy birthday Kevin7

  7. still sighing in absolute relief

  8. Im sorry,but im still LMAO

  9. You had me for a minute there, good on ya. After everything else that’s been said about this movie, it would not surprise me if this really happened

    • He just fully doomed this film with that joke lol

      • It’s already doomed

  10. Ha ha ha ha! I knew they wouldn’t screw TMNT like that! Making the turtles aliens… changing the whole story all the way to the title!!! It had to be an April’s fool joke! ;)

    OH WAIT! :S

  11. LMAO this ones good.

  12. hahahahahahahahahaha

  13. I started suspecting something when you managed to put a typo in a supposedly “official” statement. Shame on you for your constantly poor spelling skills, ScreenRant.

    • It was a quote on Bay’s blog – not an “official” statement from Universal. Maybe you should blame him ;)

      That said, just so no one else gets worked-up about it, I’ve corrected the typo. It’s always appreciated when readers point out the occasional typo on the site – however, “constantly poor spelling skills”? Really?

    • Kenji,

      “constantly poor spelling skills”? Really? We publish probably 40,000 words per week here – how many typos have you found in a week on the site?


      • I do not concern myself with statistics, but I can tell you I often find glaring instances of poor proofreading in your articles (at least once a week, if you really care about numbers, and I don’t even read all the articles you publish, obviously).

        That said, my comment was obviously intended to be tongue-in-cheek. Who doesn’t let a sly typo get through from time to time?

        • oh my goodness. who cares? just shut up.

          • Richard,

            Actually *I* care – I hate seeing typos or grammatical errors making it through the editing process to a published post. We work very hard to find and correct them, but some do slip through unfortunately.

            I appreciate you coming to our defense, though. :)


        • Kenji,

          A “smiley” goes a long way in helping get across the intent of a comment. Sarcasm and tongue-in-cheek don’t often come across well in online comments.

          From time to time I find proofreading issues and correct them when I come across them. We have a limited staff working way beyond 40 hours a week trying to get out all the movie news and interesting editorials we can. That’s no excuse, of course – just an explanation.


          • If I didn’t like what you do on this site, despite minor complaints such as this, I wouldn’t keep using it as my main source of movie-related news.
            Don’t worry, I’ll just go back to not commenting at all; I wouldn’t want to accidentally tip over the monumental chip on the majority of your fans’ shoulder.

            • Geez, did I just find a “ken” that is more of an a-hole than myself? At least I do it on purpose just for laughs, he seems serious… O_o

  14. for goodness sake don’t give michael bay ideas like this, he is crazy, he is going to do it. i just hope he doesent see this…

  15. LOL! Well played sir!

  16. Okay you got me good. I was on twitter LOOKING for april fools day stuff, but this was the perfect amount of believable. And the bad thing I was ready to come in here and defend the casting since all his dailogue is just flat enough to portray the vanilla leonardo…

  17. DAMN!! I had a big suspicion it was an april fools joke before I even read the article!!! Especially after coming from Comic book movies site. Then I read it and I was suckered in! They really sold me on this story. Finally clicked the link!! Man! I got caught twice!!!!! lol Good one!! I myself wouldn’t care if he WAS cast, not like I’ll see his face. Just hear his voice….

  18. Is this an April Fools’ day, joke or is this the real thing. Because if this is the real thing, I’m going to kill Michael Bay.

    • Read the WHOLE article, or if that’s too many words for ya, just read the last few sentences ;)
      It clearly states it’s a joke.

  19. Oh please, let this news turned out to be a April’s Fools Day joke.

    Taylor Lauther as Leonardo, come on, What’s next Shia LeBeouf cast as another ninjia turtle.

  20. APRIL FOOLS DAY!!!!!

  21. Good god why. Please let this be an April fool’s joke cause if it’s not i just might cry

  22. I’m going to assume this is a April fools joke

  23. hahahahahahahahaha

  24. Movie keeps getting worst, and if this is an April Day’s joke, pretty corny and lame.

  25. ok ok ok you totally got me on this one i was already starting to type a rant about this before i finished reading lol but then i clicked on the “concept image” thank god this was all a sick sick sick joke although with Michael Bay anything is possible.

    Good job Screenrant ya got me real good ^_^

  26. God please let this be a joke! Please!

    I actually believed it until i saw the comments :}}}

    • The Twilight April Fool’s joke is still the king. People were going crazy thinking it was true. Priceless!!

  28. You PUNKS, I love it!!! XD

    The scary thing is this actually sounds like something Michael bay would say…

  29. I don’t know why you people are so worked up, I don’t think he has a bad voice for voice acting, now if it were Nick Cage or Gilbert Gottfried… btw the image for this article should have been a tip off that this is an april fools joke.