Alan Ritchson, the actor who played Raphael in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot movies, has called the films 'the worst production experience I've ever had'.
Speaking to Collider Live!, he added that 'it made me hate life so much, and they were so bad to us'.
Made by Paramount Pictures, the studio rebooted the comic book, cartoon and movie franchise in 2014, with the first movie making nearly $500 million at the box office, though the sequel Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows made around half that figure.
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But Hunger Games star Ritchson said that the studio promised them that, although they were appearing behind masks and heavy special effects, they would be at the forefront of the movie's marketing campaigns and get worldwide exposure.
In the end, he says that they were not allowed to do any interviews (and claims the studio told press that they had refused to conduct any), weren't invited to the movie's premiere, were paid badly, and treated terribly on set.
“It was rough,” Ritchson said. “I'd said no, I didn't want to do it, because I'm gonna waste years of my life, some of the best of my career on something that no one's going to know I'm even a part of.
“They were like 'no, this a whole new, live-action [movie], you're just as much a part of this as anyone else without the mask. You'll be in every country in the world, premieres all over the place'. And most guys in town said no, because it didn't pay anything. But they were promising like 'it's not going to be like you're just a guy in a mask'. They were pointing to the guy in Lord of the Rings [Andy Serkis] and what it did for him.”
However, Ritchson says things soon went south on set, because their 'animation' contract was 'full of loopholes', meaning they didn't get paid for 'anything extra', including overtime.
“We were this group of four, an island ripe for abuse,” he goes on, saying that after one 14-hour day shooting in New York, they were kicked out of the studio facililty and left in an empty car park while the rest of the crew were taken home, because crew-members were on overtime contracts.
“They wouldn't let us in the cars to go home,” he says. “The turtles. They wanted to get the crew out of there to get them off the clock. If they stayed, they had to pay them. If we stayed, they don't. We're sitting on our backpacks in an empty car park.”
He also said that because they were contractually tied in to three movies, they were told they'd get 'back end' – i.e. profit shares – in the second movie.
“I wasn't like 'ah ok, great!', I remember sitting there going 'this is all not going to materialise'. And it didn't. None of it. Megan [Fox] and Will [Arnett] were treated so differently because they had real riders. It was rough.”
Ritchson said they heard that the planned third movie had been cancelled 'after the numbers came out', the weekend after second movie’ release in 2016.
The other mo-cap turtles were played by Pete Ploszek as Leonardo (with Johnny Knoxville providing the voice), Jeremy Howard as Donatello, and Noel Fisher as Michelangelo.
Paramount is yet to comment on Ritchson's remarks, though he added: “When I produce things now, I treat people with the respect than I want to be treated with, that I didn't get on some of these projects.”