Just a week after we saw the first trailer for Joe Liebesman’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot, there’s a big piece of new casting news. You’d think if they’re at the stage where the Michael Bay-produced film was cutting a full trailer, they’d have the cast pretty well in hand, but at least two major characters were without voices. Reports say that Johnny Knoxville and Tony Shalhoub have joined team Turtle.
According to Deadline, Knoxville will lend his vocal talents to the katana-wielding hero in a half-shell Leonardo, while Shalhoub will voice their leader, mentor, and fellow sewer denizen, Master Splinter. The visual side of the equation is largely done, with actors Pete Ploszek and Danny Woodburn, respectively, wearing the bulky suits that were used in the motion capture process, and now it’s time to take care of the vocal side of things.
On the surface, anyway, this seems like a pretty good move. Knoxville is most known as one of the driving forces behind Jackass, and yes, I’m talking about the guys that perform idiotic stunts and engage in general stupidity for our amusement. I’ve been a fan since I first saw him test out self-defense products on himself in the first Big Brother skate video, and I find a weird nobility in people who are willing to put themselves in harm’s way just to make me laugh. Beyond that, he’s also proven himself to be a competent, if often ridiculous, actor in movies like The Last Stand, though we’re willing to overlook his participation in The Ringer. Knoxville also has that reckless, youthful energy that’s a good fit in well with the overall aesthetic and sensibilities of TMNT.
Shalhoub may be best known for his role as a neurotic detective on Monk, but he’s an incredible actor who has appeared in everything from sitcoms like Wings to sci-fi spoofs like Galaxy Quest, and everything in between. This isn’t his first tango with Bay, either, as he played a prominent role in his directorial effort, the bodybuilding crime story Pain & Gain. He’s a chameleon that can bend and shape himself into whatever a role requires, so it will be fun to see what he brings to Splinter.
There’s been a great deal of ire directed at the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles trailer, and while I get that, it was better than I had initially feared. The turtles look a little weird—though one enterprising fan took up the challenge to fix their faces—and I’m not a fan of the fact that Shredder (William Fichtner) and April O’Neil (Megan Fox) are responsible for creating the mutant teen ninjas, but overall it feels like they got the spirit of the property right. Granted, it’s early and that was our first look, but it was enough to inspire a cautious momentary optimism. We’ll see how those rumors of reshoots and delays pan out.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles opens up on August 8.