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INTERVIEW – Ice Cube, Ayo Edebiri and the ‘Teenage Mutant ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem’ Team

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Everyone’s favorite turtles are back in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem, a fresh new film from Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies. While there has been no shortage of fantastic TMNT content over the years, Mutant Mayhem is a star studded film with a uniquely stunning art style that truly stands out.

Our own Jorgie recently had the opportunity to speak with the cast of the film, as well as director Jeff Rowe about the upcoming film, which premieres August 2, 2023.

These interviews took place prior to the SAG-AFTRA strike.

Legendary actor and recording artist Ice Cube plays the villainous Superfly. A veteran of both live-action and voice acting, Ice Cube talked about his experience with both mediums and which he ultimately prefers. He also shared that he considers his father to be his own personal “Master Splinter” in his life, saying that he’s full of wisdom and helped make sure Ice Cube was on the right path. The multi-talented Ice Cube is also one of the founders of the Big 3, a 3-on-3 professional basketball league. He talked about which of the Mutant Mayhem characters would be the best hoopers, admitting that his own Superfly can’t handle the ball, has a shaky jumper and is a sore loser.

POCculture.com Interview with Ice Cube on TMNT: Mutant Mayhem

One of the very welcome changes in Mutant Mayhem is that the iconic Ninja Turtles friend and ally, April O’Neil is a Black woman, voiced by the incredibly talented Ayo Edebiri. Edebiri described her character as unique. “She’s really dynamic and very eager and forward in a way that’s really fun,” Edebiri said.

Although many animated projects have voice actors recording separately, Edebiri shared that for Mutant Mayhem, she had the opportunity to record with the four Ninja Turtles voice actors, saying “it was fun and exciting just to be able to bounce off of each other in real life and in real time.”

One of the breakout stars in the hit FX series The Bear, Edebiri named series creator Christopher Storer as her “Master Splinter.”

“I met him when I was 20 and I had written a pilot, and he said ‘We’re going to work together and you’re going to have a great career and I’ll help you and give you advice,’ and that ended up being true,” Edebiri said.

POCculture.com Interview with Ayo Edebiri on TMNT: Mutant Mayhem

Of course, it’s not a Ninja Turtles film without the iconic martial arts quartet, voiced by Brady Noon (Raphael), Nicolas Cantu (Leonardo), Shamon Brown Jr. (Michelangelo) and Micah Abbey (Donatello). The youthful voice actors, who clearly share a genuine friendship, talked about how well they all got along during recording, saying that they always spent time together during and in between recordings.

When asked what their favorite part of filming the movie, Abbey said that, “Any point where we were just improvising was really fun, which was like a majority of the movie, so every day was a fun day.”

Finally, each of the turtle voices answered the age old pizza question – do they like pineapple on pizza?

POCculture.com interview with Brady Noon (Raphael), Nicolas Cantu (Leonardo), Shamon Brown Jr. (Michelangelo) and Micah Abbey (Donatello) on TMNT: Mutant Mayhem

Jeff Rowe, who directed Mutant Mayhem, expressed his love for animation, saying that he “loves the opportunities it gives you, the possibilities, the way that you can make fantastic things feel real.” He referenced the amount of mutants and impossible things in the film side-by-side with a realistic depiction of New York.

Rowe said that he was inspired by the animated series Hey Arnold! as a child, because it was a show about normal kids. Later in life, he credits shows like Gundam Wing and Dragonball Z for being animated shows that didn’t feel like they were for kids.

POCculture.com interview with TMNT: Mutant Mayhem Director Jeff Rowe

After years of being sheltered from the human world, the Turtle brothers set out to win the hearts of New Yorkers and be accepted as normal teenagers through heroic acts. Their new friend April O’Neil helps them take on a mysterious crime syndicate, but they soon get in over their heads when an army of mutants is unleashed upon them. 

Editor’s Note: This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, the movie being covered here wouldn’t exist.

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Ron is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of POC Culture.  He is a big believer in the power and impact of pop culture and the importance of representation in media.

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