PrintE-mail Written by Ed Fortune

Pete Ploszek is an American actor best known for his roles as Garrett Douglas on the series Teen Wolf and Leonardo in the recent Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles films. We caught up with him to find out what it’s like to be a Ninja turtle…

STARBURST: What is it like to be the leader of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?
Paul Ploszek: It’s such a dream come true. Getting the chance to step into these shoes and giving the fans the chance to meet the things they fell in love with when growing up. It’s a real special opportunity.

Talk us through the process of acting the role a giant sword wielding mutant whilst in a motion capture costume?
The suit and the head gear are a challenge to become comfortable inside all the technology. As actors, we had that journey with the first movie. By the second movie, the hard part was over. Eventually, it all disappears and you concentrate on the acting. It’s the humour and brotherly love that brings these characters to life. We really got to hit the ground running and move the story forward.

Let’s scroll back to the first ever time you played Leonardo. What was it like on the first day of the first movie?
It was pretty amazing. We started with the snow chase sequence. With all the technology and cameras around, we just had to figure it out from day one. They had us on a hydraulic press on the back of a truck and we were moving in every direction imaginable, all why we were trying to figure out how it all worked. Luckily we had those big turtle shells on our back and they were good cushions.

Some of the scenes in the new movie seem to be entirely CG. How do you prepare to fight Krang when he’s not even there?
Two things. One, the producers and makers of the film give us a lot of pre-vis renders of what the large sequences are supposed to look out, so we can imagine how the sequences are going to pan out. The other thing is that a lot of these scenes can now be filmed in a real world environment without blue-screens or green-screens. That’s really us on the streets of New York City. So we get a unique blend of the two. It lets you create that reality. The four of us work great together and had each other’s backs.

So take us through the Technodrome scene.
That was entirely CG and shot on a mo-cap stage. You’re really doing a lot of imaginative work yourself. We see a low-grade render, but really it’s all up to you. So you go big and you don’t apologise for it. You give the geniuses at ILM as much material to work with as you can. Really they deserve all the credit.

The Turtles are famously brothers, first and foremost. How did you form that bond with your fellow actors?
It really comes down to spending time with each other so you can build that trust in front of the camera. When Raph and Leo fight, it comes from the mutual respect that Alan and I had for each other so we could really take the gloves off and go for it. So there’s a lot of that, spending time on set. We all learned how to do motion capture together, so that helped form a bond.

Did you grow up with the Turtles?
Yes, Absolutely. When I got the role, it was nuts. The Turtle films are my first movies, so they were so many dreams coming true for me. Then I realised, oh man, I’d better not screw this up.

What would you love to do with the character of Leonardo?
I think we did a great job of humanising these guys. It’s cool to dig into that. I think the comics have dug into his dark side and I’d love to do the whole father/son journey. If I remember the comics, he gets his arm chopped off at one point, and Donnie tries to fix him. I love that stuff - that would be fun to do.

Stephen Amell is Casey Jones in this movie. How was it on set?
What was so great about working with Stephen was our first scene with Casey was also the first time we met Stephen. So that was great to work with and we really sparked off each other. It was his first time working with mo-cap actors, so it went well.

Is the superhero movie going away anytime soon?
I don’t think so, not as long as they continue to ground them and keep them accessible. I think they’ll stick around. Deadpool was a good example of re-invention. If they stick to CGI effect driven stories, maybe not. Marvel are obviously the masters of mixing serious with fun.

What’s your favourite genre thing?

Sci-fi and fantasy, because they are such different worlds, it becomes so much fun. It’s pure play and invention.

What’s next for you?
Teen Wolf. I get to play a Nazi Werewolf, believe it or not. Quite a departure from Leo the leader.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Out of The Shadows is out on Blu-ray, DVD and VOD now.

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