Ayo Edebiri Talks ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem’, Improvising Lines & More – Interview
*This interview took place before the SAG-AFTRA strike. Without the hard work of writers and actors, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem wouldn’t have become a reality, and everyone working on bringing our favorite stories to life should be properly compensated for their work.
The turtles are back and better than ever. Throughout the years, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT) franchise has seen numerous interpretations, spanning from the original ’80s animated series to the live-action movie produced by Michael Bay. Amidst there having been a diverse array of adaptations, a consistent flaw emerged – the “teenage” aspect of the title often took a backseat.
In strides, Seth Rogen recognized the need for change. This prompted him to begin the production of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem, which is now in theaters. What sets this film apart is not just the fact that actual teenagers lend their voices to the turtles (Donatello voiced by Michah Abbey, Michelangelo by Shamon Brown Jr., Leonardo by Nicolas Cantu, and Raphael by Brady Noon) but also the youthful vigor at the core of the cinematic experience.
One of the many standout elements of the film revolves around Ayo Edebiri’s character, April, and the captivating and hilarious interplay she shares with the turtles. While past iterations have portrayed April as a grown-up journalist, this time around, she embodies the persona of an enthusiastic teenager fervently pursuing her aspiration to enter the realm of journalism.
This year has proven to be a remarkable one for Edebiri. In addition to clinching an Emmy nomination for her noteworthy contributions to the first season of The Bear, her portrayal in the recently premiered second season of the well-received series has been nothing short of exceptional. Apart from her involvement in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem, she also garners acclaim for her role in the highly praised Bottoms.
Throughout our conversation, we delve into her initial response upon becoming part of the TMNT franchise. We also delve into her ability to improvise lines, a skill honed through her collaborative sessions in the recording booth with the rest of the cast. Lastly, we touch briefly on the advice she would offer to her younger self.
Check out the interview with Ayo Edebiri for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem below:
To begin the chat, I asked Edebiri about her thoughts about joining the TMNT franchise. She shared, “My initial reaction was just like, ‘This is sick!’ I grew up as a ’90s baby and played many games with my cousins and just with the boys I went to school with, where I was their April O’Neil. So it was very, very exciting to get to play this character. But to have her just sort of pursue her own goals, to be a girl who’s growing up and doesn’t have it all totally together but possesses big dreams and big ideas.”
Edebiri continued, “It’s also exciting to be in a Seth Rogen comedy with these four teenage boys who are incredibly funny and cool.”
This naturally transitioned into my following question. Edebiri radiates humor both on and off the screen, prompting me to inquire whether she had the chance to do any improvisation with her character. She said, “Yeah! We got to do some improv in this movie, which was really fun. Jeff and Seth were so encouraging about that. And once I felt like I started to know the character more, It was definitely a little bit easier to just sort of like throw a little bit of something on a line, or in reaction to whatever ridiculous thing the boys are doing.”
This isn’t Edebiri’s first time voicing a character. Prior to Mutant Mayhem, she had already lent her voice to Netflix’s Big Mouth. Keeping this in mind, I asked about the significant differences she had observed between the two projects.
Edebiri responded, “With a movie, it just takes so much time because there’s so much collaboration on it. So, it was really important for me to just listen to my voice in a way and make sure that I kept this April consistent. But something that was fun was that I got to record with the boys. And they did a lot of group records. But also how animation is recorded. A lot of times, you do it solo, hearing people’s voices. Maybe you can do sessions together, but it’s over Zoom. You’re very rarely in the room with people. And so, I got to be in the room with the boys. And that was really, really fun.”
Given that this rendition of April is portrayed as younger and still attending school, I asked Edebiri about the advice she would offer her younger self if she could turn back time. Edebiri shared, “You know what? I wouldn’t tell them anything. Because I think that would mess with the rules of time travel. And I wouldn’t be the person I am today. You know what I mean? I’d be too aware something would go wrong. I’d come back Marty McFly style, and I’d be a venture capitalist or something. I’d still be successful, but at what cost kind of vibes. So I’d just let herself suffer for a little bit.”