Seth Rogen: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem features 'a lot of improvisation'

The Mario Bros. star is the creative mind behind the upcoming Ninja Turtles movie

·3-min read

Watch the first trailer for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem

There hasn’t been a whole lot of noise about the Seth Rogen-produced Ninja Turtles movie, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem yet.

But during an interview with Rogen to promote The Super Mario Bros. Movie — in which he voices Donkey Kong — Yahoo UK took the opportunity to quiz him on it.

He says that improvisation and voicing characters in a room with the other actors is the key to making the CG animation sing – and the biggest difference between it and the Mario movie.

“They're pretty different experiences,” begins Rogen.

Read more: Why Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was so controversial in the UK

“One big difference is on Ninja Turtles we always recorded together. We always had the cast all together in one big room. Sometimes we had six, seven people together in one session.

Seth Rogen, Micah Abbey, Brady Noon, Shamon Brown Jr. and Nicolas Cantu presenting Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem at the Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards, 2023. (Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)
Seth Rogen, Micah Abbey, Brady Noon, Shamon Brown Jr. and Nicolas Cantu presenting Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem at the Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards, 2023. (Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

"And honestly, as much fun as doing something like [The Super Mario Bros. Movie] is, that's one of the things I always wish there was more of – interaction with the other actors and the other characters.”

Typically on an animation, voice roles are recorded independently, with each actor physically separate from the other cast members.

Read more: Rogen's Ninja Turtles will focus on the 'teenage' aspect

Bringing everyone together for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles allowed for something you wouldn’t expect in an animated movie: improvisation.

“It's something that when I'm producing my own animated films, like I got to with Ninja Turtles, I really can create the process more to suit our creative desires,” says Rogen.

The first poster for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem. (Paramount)
The first poster for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem. (Paramount)

“That was a big difference. We always recorded in big groups of people so we could improvise in big groups and kind of talk over each other and really try to give the scenes [spontaneity].

"But it's a different tone, though, and it's a different style [to Mario]. You know, that movie’s really trying to capture this hyper-naturalism, almost. This movie does not have that same tone.”

Mutant Mayhem serves as a reboot of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film series, and stars Rogen as Bebop alongside John Cena as Rocksteady – who actually dialled into the voice recording sessions via Zoom. Their characters are henchmen of main antagonist Shredder.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 01: Seth Rogen attends special screening of Universal Pictures'
Seth Rogen at a screening for The Super Mario Bros. Movie. (Leon Bennett/FilmMagic)

The movie’s voice cast also includes Jackie Chan, Paul Rudd, Ice Cube, Maya Rudolph, and Giancarlo Esposito, among others, while a quartet of young newcomers voice the Turtles: Nicolas Cantu is Leonardo, Shamon Brown Jr. is Michelangelo, Micah Abbey is Donatello and Brady Noon is Raphael.

“They're very young. They're amazing,” says Rogen of the young voice cast.

“And honestly, we really tried to capture the way they actually interacted with each other. I remember we did one recording session with them and they would all hang out together in the kitchen of the recording studio, and they would all just talk over each other and make fun of each other; screaming at each other.

The title treatment for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem, coming to cinemas in 2023. (Paramount)
The title treatment for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem, coming to cinemas in 2023. (Paramount)

"And I remember being like, ‘Oh, this is what we have to capture’. Like, this is the energy of the movie. That's when we started recording them all simultaneously. And we would tell them to essentially improvise all of their lines, and we would guide them and pitch them stuff.

"But they particularly really did an amazing job together. I think people will see [that] it feels very different.”

We only have to wait a few more months to see for ourselves – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem hits UK cinemas on 4 August.

The Super Mario Bros. Movie arrives in cinemas on 5 April.

Watch: Seth Rogen talks Donkey Kong