Saturday, July 25, 2020

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Actor Tohoru Masamune Talks About His Take On Iconic Villain Shredder

Tonight we dine on turtle soup! Or more accurately, catch up with actor Tohoru Masamune as he discusses his role as Shredder in 2014's live-action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film!

For decades, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has been influencing generations with its themes of brotherhood, kinetic action, and hilarious jokes.
There have been several iterations of the "heroes in a half-shell" over the years, each bringing varying amounts of "turtle power," beginning as a coming in the '90s by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, the series' dark roots made way for bright colors as the franchise released its first animated series. From there, the franchise became the media hit that it is today.

For every great hero, however, there must always be a threatening villain. Enter the Shredder, the arch-enemy of the turtles, and leader of the Foot Clan. Through his many iterations, many voices and factors have donned the helmet of the nefarious warrior; in the 2014 Michael Bay-produced film, the Shredder was brought to life by actor Tohoru Masamune.

Masamune, on top of adding the aggressive edge to the villain, has had various other roles, including a role in the Twitch original series, Artificial. Artificial, now in its third season, is a show that allows the players to interact with the story and shape the character arcs and overall narrative of the series.

Recently, Comic Book Movie and Toonado was able to catch up with Masamune and ask him what it was like taking on the Turtles and also about his role in Artificial. Check out what he had to say, and if you want to see the full audio interview, make sure to give it a listen below! (skip to 44:15 to hear the part about Shredder)

It turns out that Masamune actually looked to the comic version of the villain when getting into character rather than the cartoon, and he also hangs out with one of the turtles in his free time! Check out what he had to say below.

Toonado: I was wondering if you mind if I ask you a couple of questions about your time as Shredder in the 2014 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?

Tohoru Masamune: Of course! It's always fun to talk Shredder!

Toonado: So what can you tell me about your experience playing the character?

Tohoru Masamune: Wow, that's a very big question. (Laughs)

Toonado: You're right. Let me break it down a little bit more for you. I know you also voice-acted in a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series several years later. I'm curious if you're a fan of the franchise in general, then?

Tohoru Masamune: I can work with that. (Laughs) Yeah, those folks know me. I've worked with the folks over at Nickelodeon a bunch of times. They just kind of brought me in for some stuff that I thought would be fun, you know, for that recent one.

But I've done stuff with the casting people like Kung Fu Panda[: Legends of Awesomeness]. So I've worked with them before and they brought me in and thought it would be fun if I did a few voices one morning.

But I actually go back, it's funny because I was very young in Massachusetts when they penned the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I think they were in Maine at the time? So it's interesting, my connection with this goes back to the comic books.

And this might be interesting to add, I know a lot of people connect it with the cartoon, but my incarnation of Shredder I drew entirely from the comic books. That was where I went and it was nice because that was actually what they were looking for too. That one had sort of a dark vibe to it.

But I remember the time when a buddy of mine said "hey, they came up with this comic book called Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" and I remember thinking it was so wacky. I remember starting reading those.

I remember those first six episodes, and I think Shredder came out in the second one. And it's funny that I remember it, because who would have guessed, right?

Toonado: Right! So do you have a favorite turtle?

Tohoru Masamune: Yeah, I'm gonna say probably Donatello. It's hard to say, I mean it's hard to tell. It's such a great idea - the four brothers and how they're all different. And I thought they did a terrific job of showing that brotherhood. But yeah, I'm gonna say Donatello. I tend to get drawn to the nerd, I guess.

Toonado: Yeah, well I'm a Mikey guy, so I'm a loud nerd. I feel you.

Tohoru Masamune: (Laughs) There you go! And the other day I remember I went on a hike with Jeremy Howard who played the character of Donatello. And so before Corona I asked him if he wanted to go for a hike, and he said yeah, that'll be great.

And it was so funny because my first thought was "oh, wow, I'm gonna go on a hike with Donatello!" (Laughs) I got kind of excited.

*This interview has been edited for clarity.*

What do you think of Masamune's comments? Re-watch the trailer for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and check out Twitch's Artificial below, also don't forget to share your thoughts in the usual spot!

As the fallout of Kira's investigation drives Dr. Lin into isolation, Elle and Justin move forward with the AI Lilith's development. The familiar faces of Zander and Carmen challenge the mission of the project by raising questions about the AI's past and future. How will Lilith adapt to all these conflicts? It's up to you.

Artificial is live and interactive every Thursday at 5pm PST on Twitch.

More Nick: Nickelodeon Readies Next Chapter of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with All-New CG-Animated Theatrical Release Produced By Point Grey Pictures!
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