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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles director talks pizza, comedy, and Shredder’s identity

There’s been a lot of speculation — and concern — regarding the liberties the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie will take with the characters’ origin story and the visual elements of its titular heroes. In a recent interview, director Jonathan Liebesman offered up some details regarding the film and confirmation of a few elements that have had fans buzzing for a while now.

“I think for me, the touchstones were April O’Neil, Shredder, the Turtles, and Splinter,” Liebesman told ComingSoon. “Make sure we see how they become turtles. Make sure they’re mutants. Make sure there’s pizza.”

Along with trying to stay true to these core elements, Liebesman said there were quite a few specific elements of the characters’ comic and cartoon iterations that carried over to this new, rebooted version of the characters. For example, purple-masked Donatello’s fascination with technology remains a big part of the character, with Donatello crafting a portable rig that he can wear on his back giving him the most powerful mobile Internet connection in New York City.

Liebesman also indicated that in addition to the Turtles and their mutant rat mentor, Splinter, much of the scenes involving their foe, Shredder, will also make use of digital effects. He also confirmed what many have been wondering for a while now: whether actor William Fichtner, who was originally billed as Shredder, will not in fact be playing the Turtles’ archenemy.

“William Fichtner isn’t Shredder,” said Liebesman. “[Fichtner] is Eric Sachs. Shredder is played by another actor. He’s not all CG. You see him without his armor on. When he’s in the armor, there’s an actor, but he’s been augmented. Like in Iron Man, it’s CGI.”

The film’s producer, Andrew Form, also confirmed that pizza will indeed factor into the Turtles’ lives.

“I was online and saw someone asking, ‘Is pizza in the movie?'” he laughed. “You’ll see the world’s most operatic pizza scene committed to CGI.”

One element that will be tweaked for the film, however, is the Turtles’ origin story — which was itself inspired by the origin of another popular superhero, Daredevil. While the characters will be exposed to the “Mutagen” that transformed them, the exact relationship between the Turtles, their mentor, and Shredder, will be revised for the film.

“When you come to the movie,” said Form. “You don’t need to know anything about the Ninja Turtles and when you leave, you’ll know everything.”

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles hits theaters August 8.

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