Those with a keen eye might have caught a glimpse of mad scientist Dr. Baxter Stockman in 2014's live-action adventure Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. But with the bigger and better sequel Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, Tyler Perry joined the fray in the recast role, giving Stockman some serious star power and a signature chuckle.
Best known for creating a long line of morality tales and Madea movies, Perry was excited to dive-into a franchise this bold and beloved. Sitting down with Screen Rant, the writer/director/actor dug into Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, the motivations of the Shredder-aligned mad scientist, how Baxter might make a monstrous comeback, and the dangers of shooting on location in New York City, including that time he nearly got run down by a bus!
I heard that you almost got hit by a car shooting this movie. Is that true?
Tyler Perry: They told me to go across the street and I didn’t know they didn’t stop the traffic. I think they told me they didn’t stop the traffic, but I was in the character. And I’m walking across New York City street traffic and, yeah, almost got hit by a car and a bus. I’m stopping then walking across the street.
Watching that take I heard that, and then there’s a scene where it looks like, yeah, you almost get hit by a car.
Tyler Perry: Yeah, that’s the scene. And they kept it, I see.
They don’t play around in this city, man!
Tyler Perry: No. “Get out of the street, Tyler Perry! We’re shooting a f***in’ movie!” Yeah, yeah.
So you’ve played some pretty big and bold characters. Was it kind of a dream to play a mad scientist?
Tyler Perry: It was a dream to do something that my son can see pretty soon and enjoy me doing something crazy. So yeah, that was a dream for me, a dream come true. But he’s a lot of fun. This mad scientist, he’s a lot of fun. And that laugh, I don’t know where it came from, but one day it just stuck.
[Laughs] The laugh was just kind of part of who Baxter is for you?
Tyler Perry: Yeah, totally.
That’s exciting. What was your favorite part about shooting the movie?
Tyler Perry: You know, I just see an opportunity to be on a set this big with this kind of budget. It was really exciting to learn. I’m always a student wherever I am. So to learn from this director or to learn from all the producers, it was really great.
What motivates Baxter?
Tyler Perry: At first, I thought it was just for people to know that he’s brilliant. But then I think that turns into greed, which turns into wanting power, which turns into, I’m smarter than you. I’m better than you.” So all of those things become motivation to him over time.
I think it’s the idea when you know you have something to offer but people seem to be not paying attention to it, it can fester.
Tyler Perry: Fester and make you very, very angry, make you very bitter. So I think he had gotten to the point where he’s bitter and now he wants his due, his share.
So you kind of managed to find a morality angle within the role.
Tyler Perry: OK. I’ll take it!
Have you they talked to you at all about whether or not Baxter might come back for more movies?
Tyler Perry: Listen to me. I couldn’t even get the script for this movie until I was almost on set. So all of that is going to be top secret to the very last minute, I’m sure.
OK. What would you like to see him do next if you had your pick?
Tyler Perry: I don’t know. But I know that he becomes a fly. So it will be really interesting to see.
So maybe in a future movie we might see you doing the whole mo-cap thing.
Tyler Perry: Who knows? Maybe. Who knows?
What is it like interacting with something that has this kind of fandom?
Tyler Perry: It’s really exciting. When I sign on to be something of this kind of magnitude, all I want to do is just do my best and make sure I don’t let anybody down. So that was pretty exciting to me, to have it all come together and be accepted the way that it has been.
Were you a Turtles fan at any point?
Tyler Perry: Sure, absolutely. I don’t know any kid around my age who wasn’t at that time, even though I was almost an adult.
Yeah, right? It’s enveloping. Who was your favorite Turtle?
Tyler Perry: Michelangelo. Had to be.
You want to tell us why?
Tyler Perry: He’s just fun. He’s quirky. He’s fun. He’s just fun.
What was the greatest challenge of walking into this role?
Tyler Perry: I think one of the greatest challenges is all of the special effects and sometimes you are talking to a silver ball or some doll or something. That was the greatest challenge. But knowing about the storyboards and knowing how it was all going to come together was a great thing to have.
And you guys got to shoot on location at Grand Central.
Tyler Perry: Isn’t that something? In Grand Central. But they didn’t close it. There were still people walking through looking like, “What’s going on up there?”
But they had trains to catch. They had no time.
Tyler Perry: They had trains to catch. They’re not worried about that. “Oh, that’s Megan? Wait a minute. That’s Megan. I want to see her.”
Thank you so much for your time.
Tyler Perry: Thank you very much. I appreciate it.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows hits theaters June 3, 2016.