Jackass alumni, Johnny Knoxville, has been cast as the voice of Leonardo, the blue-masked leader of the “heroes in a half shell” for the new Michael Bay produced Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film due out later this year. The physical role of Leonardo is played by Pete Plozek, who had originally lent his vocals for the character. Paramount, the studio producing the movie, stated that they have always been open to the idea of having other actors do the voices of the characters, and the actors playing the physical roles had not been guaranteed that their vocals would make into the final version of the film.
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles features Jonathan Liebesman as director and is being produced by Transformers director Michael Bay, which has ruffled more than a few feathers for long-time fans of the franchise. One of the biggest concerns for fans seems to be the overall appearance and look of the turtles themselves. In the recently released trailer, the four brothers who make up the lean, green, ninja-fighting machine appear to be gigantic, towering over Megan Fox, who plays the lead female role. This is a departure from previous incarnations of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, where the main characters were the same size as an average human. On top of the increase in size, is the addition of more human-like facial characteristics, such as a nose and lips. These changes have sparked mixed reactions, with some fans crying foul, and others excited about the fresh take on their favorite characters.
It seems like a good idea for Paramount to add well-known actors like Johnny Knoxville to voice Leonardo and the other characters in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, as adding a little extra star power to a film never hurts. Knoxville is a talented actor who has the right vocal style to bring both the seriousness of Leonardo and his playful teenage antics to life. Knoxville returned to his roots this past October with the smash comedy Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa, which took the top spot at the box office.
Public opinion seems divided, yet again, on this particular choice for Leonardo. It seems that fans of this franchise are extremely attached to the incarnation of the characters they grew up with, so pleasing them is going to prove to be a challenge for Michael Bay and company. Overall, the film, despite rumors of delays and fans bickering about character aesthetics, looks promising. There seems to be a decent story, though the script parts ways with what fans consider “cannon” for the origin of the turtles, with lead villain Shredder being partly responsible for their creation. The thing many fans need to keep in mind is that the whole premise of the movie is ridiculous, and is meant to be a fun, action-packed romp. It is highly unlikely that the film will be up for an Oscar nomination, so there is no need to take things so seriously. With that being said, fans will have to reserve judgment on whether or not Johnny Knoxville’s voice will be a good fit for Leonardo, the leader of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, or if the studio made a bad call.
By Michael Cantrell