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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  1. I’am going to be famous for hanging myself in Bay’s front yard with a sign that says “You killed all I had, thanks.”

  2. Thank you Taylor Launter for ruining my childhood and every other TMNT fans.

    • ^It’s an april fools joke. not true!!

      • I hope you are right

      • God I hope this is april fools

  3. A gritty and grounded TMNT movie? This is still a movie about giant turtles that talk and do Kung fu right?

    • Bam!

      Thanks for telling it like it is.

  4. damn bay

  5. I lol’d. XD

  6. I find peoples complete and utter lack of distinction between the different forms of martial arts offensive. No, they do NOT do kung fu, they do ninjitsu. Not karate, not taekwando, not aikido, NINJITSU. Ninjitsu was developed by farmers as a means of fighting the feudal enforcers of the Japanese empirical class, the samauri. Kung fu has roots in the religions of ancient China.
    They are mutually exclusive and not interchangeable. Not recognizing the difference between them is, at best, rude.

    • why don’t you just go stand in front of congress and complain more about how everything is offensive. grow up.

    • Actually ninjitsu has its roots in Chinese and Indian fighting styles and guerrilla tactics imported came from Chinese generals and later monks escaping the collapse of the Tang Dynasty. It was a Chinese monk named Kain Doshi and his former samurai partner Daisuke Togakure who first formalized the methods and culture of ninja. Daisuke’s descendants went on to form the first school of ninjistsu ‘Togakure.’

  7. I admire the fact that Bay doesnt let the public discourage him but…hes already distroyed my love of the Transformers and now this. Its all about him makin another 500 million… Sighs… Why cant it be about the art

    • Hopefully you’ll never understand.

  8. BWAHAHAhahaha! You Got Me! I was fuming.

  9. You almost had me, Screen Rant. You almost had me. I was just about to Hulk out in nerd rage.

    However, I would support him being cast as Donatello, as he is actually a world champion bo staff martial artist (NOT a joke).

  10. Ohhhhhh screw you guys!!!!! I just woke up and have a killer hangover . Then I read that and was seriously laughing and going to throw up at the same time. The sad thing is, Bay would do something like that. Thank you SR for the swift kick in the junk, you got me.

  11. “did you not see him in abduction?” – Abduction was one of the worst movies I have ever seen in my life. And I am not exaggerating….


  12. Hardy hargh hargh….you got me. Lolz

  13. @Ben

    thats funny. its also funny hear some internet rumour of Michael Bay has a restraining order on Tyrese LOL


  14. Justin Beiber as Shredder

    Zac Efron as Casey Jones

    • Orlando Bloom as Bebop

      Lil Bow Wow as Rocksteady

      • Justin Timberlake as Krang
        Ashton Kutcher as Splinter

  15. I am not a fan of twilight but I am of Taylor! He did a great job at abduction. I enjoy seeing kids grow up on the big screen as long as they don’t turn into lindsey Lohan. Will smith for example is my favorite star.

  16. LOL April fools

  17. Ray Park as Donatello. The guy is probably one of the best martial artists in the world, and he always tries to please the fans.

    • Oooh yes yes yes!

    • Yes please!

  18. lolol so wait, is the entire article the april fool’s joke or JUST the in-text link?? If the article itself is true, the only issue i’d have is the voice-acting. The dude is actually a martial artist and isn’t very tall, and there’s no evidence to suggest he’d be bad at THAT portion of it. Of course, there’s no ACTUAL evidence to suggest he’d be good either lol

  19. “tails between their legs” LOL

  20. Well played, indeed. *twirls mustache*

  21. Good joke SR. Very well done.

  22. Way to go Bay. Way to alienate the Ninja Turtles fanbase by slamming them in your most recent blog. Oh btw…bad boys I and II sucked balls. Much like anything else you’ve directed or produced.

  23. So who is Shia Lebouf going to play ?

  24. You just saved a lot of children from watching me destroy so many ‘Ninja Turtles’ toys at the toy stores.

    I would’ve just watched them burn to the ground.

    But now, I’ve had time to rethink my choices.

  25. Hey Michael, quit telling everyone to relax. We’d be completely fine if you didn’t decide to ruin every aspect of a TMNT movie that you possibly could!

  26. So if this is just an April Fools joke who would you guys cast as Leonardo, or any other characters. Just pretend you are the directors and they have to be Aliens of course, so who do you think could pull it off the best?

  27. Ok everyone please listen I love the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles i was obsessed with their movies when i was a kid sooo much i was Leonardo for Halloween i had the action figures i watched the cartoons everything. So wow holy crap this is a wild crazy change for the franchise, them being Aliens and all (i dont think Lautners Leonardo now i think it was a prank) and when i first heard that they were gonna be Aliens i hated it i thought that it was a pointless thing to do i thought it was gonna suck when it came out. But after i read what Bay said about them still keeping their personalities and all i realised maybe it wont be that bad, just because they’ll grow up differently doesnt meant he movie will be bad, and to be honest guys the key to making a good movie is working with people who enjoy making movies so therefore if Bay is enthusiastic about the whole thing and everyone else is event he original creators think that this movie is gonna be a lot of fun. And come on nobody making this movie ever told any of us how to have fun so lets stop telling them how to have fun this is just a freakishly big change but what i know is that change is never bad its just different and the world always has a problem accepting different. And another thing so many people have said the same stuff about movies that you guys are saying right now and all those movies turned out to be a lot of fun, people said that Iron Man was gonna suck, Captain America, Thor, Amazing SPider-Man, the original Batman (the first one i mean with Tim Burton) and a ton of other movies. And all of these movies inspired all filmakers that they could make movies on the craziest of stuff but still make them fun and entertaining.

    So please guys for your own sake you need to give these guys a chance let them live their dreams of making this movie let them live a little bit. Im not saying dont insult them any more im just saying give them a chance.

  28. Scott Adkins as Shredder would be insane…

  29. i hate April fools day