When a franchise is rebooted, there's lots of talk of how it'll appeal to a "new" audience. Little did the world anticipate that the 2014 reboot Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles would attract acclaimed American actress Laura Linney. The three-time Oscar nominee co-stars in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows as a New York police chief forced to face the seemingly impossible notion that massive masked turtles are fighting crime vigilante-style around her city.
While Screen Rant visited one of the sequel's New York sets, we spoke with Linney in a group interview where she confessed, "I didn’t understand turtle fever before I started working on this." But now, you'd be hard pressed to find a bigger fan of the actors whose motion-capture performances bring Michelangelo, Donatello, Leonardo and Raphael to life. Linney couldn't stop singing the praises of Noel Fisher, Jeremy Howard, Pete Ploszek and Alan Ritchson. But beyond that, she dared to tell us how police chief Rebecca Vincent factors into Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, and what she's learned from making the cult classic Congo.
So we know you’re a police chief, but this is all we know. Please tell us everything you can.
Laura Linney: I am a bureau chief of organized crime for New York City. And events are happening within the city that are of course wild and unprecedented. And I have these people coming to me telling me about turtles which seems a little far-fetched. And it takes me a while to grasp the situation, to understand what these creatures are, to value their assistance and what they have to offer. And then I become an ally.
So you’re sort of their Commissioner Gordon?
We don’t really see you in many movies quite like this--
You're just young. There's Congo. There's Mothman Prophecies. There are a few.
But this is a big summer blockbuster. Was it for you like “I want to be in one of those big pop-core movie type things," or was it just a particular script--
I didn’t seek it out. It came to me. And it took me a minute to sort of think about it. And then I watched the first one and those turtles are just fantastic. And it was filming here in the city. And I now have a little boy. And it all just sort of fell into place, and I just thought why not.
There seems to be a trend now to bring acclaimed actors and actresses into movies like this because I feel it adds a lot of credibility to them. Do you feel that that was the case for this as well?
Everybody’s just very nice. Really, honestly, I was a little skeptical and didn’t quite know. And these sets can be difficult. They’re high powered people under a lot of pressure. They’re very expensive, and some of these sets are not very pleasant. So I was a little concerned about that because I’m just at an age now where I just don’t want to be around that. And I met these guys and they were so nice! And they really are so nice, (screenwriter) Andre (Nemec) and (director) Dave (Green) everybody involved is really lovely. And the turtles--I think you’ve spoken to those guys--they’re just adorable. They’re just lovely, lovely young men. And they enjoy each other, and really the four of them, their attitude and their fun, really does permeate the whole set. It’s just a joy to be around. And it’s funny. It’s kind of a kick to be in a movie with giant turtles. (Laughs).
Is your son into the Turtles?
He’s very young, he’s 16 months old, so he will be. He does have little turtle shoes.
Is your character aware that it’s kind of comedic? Because Whoopi Goldberg kind of had that in the first one, or do you have to play it straight?
No one has told me how to play it. The writing is very clear when there’s moments of this and when there’s moments of that. But I think it has a sort of tenor all its own, as it has to be when there are giant turtles on the screen with you. So I think there is sort of a fine line. There’s stuff that happens--there are things at stake in this movie. So you can’t play it too comedically, and at the same time you can’t play it too seriously. Otherwise it just becomes melodramatic and ridiculous. So it’s kind of--even though this is a big movie acting-wise--you do have to consider it, you can’t just wing it. You do think how do you do this so that it’s just right where it doesn’t take itself too seriously or you’re not too heavy or too light. We’ll see how it all comes together. There’s so much that you have no control over with big movies like this. Editing is such an enormous part of it. Special effects are things you can barely comprehend at the time. So you just sort of throw it up in the air and see how they put it all together.