‘Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ adds Ben Schwartz and Kat Graham
Heroes in a half shell
Nickelodeon debuted the voice cast of its all-new series “Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” today. The show will be a new series that follows the band of brothers as they encounter new allies and villains, all while discovering a mystical world they never knew existed beneath the streets of New York City. The 2D-animated series stars the voice talent of Omar Miller (Ballers) as Raphael, Ben Schwartz (Parks and Recreation) as Leonardo, Josh Brener (Silicon Valley) as Donatello, Brandon Mychal Smith (You’re The Worst) as Michelangelo and Kat Graham (The Vampire Diaries) as April O’Neil. The series is set to debut in 2018 on Nickelodeon.
“This incredible roster of voice actors provides a fresh take on these globally recognized characters, and they are going to bring this version of the Turtles to life in a whole new way,” said Chris Viscardi, Senior Vice President, Production and Development, Animation. “We have reimagined the series to be filled with humor, loads of action and a dynamic look, and it’s packed with all new heroes, villains and cityscapes for the Turtles to explore.”
The highly voice cast hopes to breathe new life into the characters’ distinct personalities. The network described Raphael “as the oldest and physically biggest brother, he is now the leader and his enthusiasm and bravado puts him front and center for most of their bizarre adventures”. Leonardo was described as “the self-professed ‘coolest’ brother,” adding that he “possesses irreverent charm and a rebel heart”. Donatello is “an unflappable mechanical genius and tech wizard whose ninja skills are second only to his coding,” while Michelangelo is “the youngest brother, an artist and awesome skateboarder with a wild colorful, and imaginative personality”. The Turtles’ most trusted ally, April O’Neil, will once again be a street savvy native New Yorker who is always ready to join in the fun. Additionally, Eric Bauza (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) joins the cast as Splinter, both father figure and sensei to the Turtles.
Kat Graham (April O’Neil) added, “I’ve watched TMNT since I was a little girl. I’m so proud to be playing the first African-American April O’Neil. What an incredible honor for me and milestone for this iconic cartoon. I’m excited for all the adventures the Turtles and I will have!” Omar Miller (Raphael) said, “I used to sing the TMNT theme song daily on the bus on my way to elementary school and Raphael was my favorite Turtle. To get to voice this fictional character who had such a giant positive impact on my childhood is an honor. And to boot, I’m being directed by the man who voiced Raphael in my childhood.”
Veteran animation industry voice actor Rob Paulsen is voice directing the series. Paulsen most recently voiced Donatello in Nickelodeon’s CG-animated series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and voiced Raphael in the 1987 original series. With over 2,000 half-hours of animation voice-over to his credit, Paulsen’s versatility is heard in many series.
Ben Schwartz (Leonardo) also commented on the casting, adding, “I have loved TMNT ever since I was a kid. I still have the action figures and the enormous desire to eat an entire pizza in one sitting.”
Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles follows Raphael, Leonardo, Donatello and Michelangelo on all-new adventures as they seek to unlock the mystical secrets of New York City. From the tallest skyscraper to the dankest sewer drain, the Turtles will encounter absurd new mutants and battle bizarre creatures all while enjoying their favorite slice of pizza. Tapping into mystic, ninja powers they never knew existed, the four brothers must learn to work together and navigate the perils of the modern age and hidden realms in order to fulfill their destiny to become a team of heroes.
The new 26-episode series is co-executive produced by Andy Suriano (character designer, Samurai Jack) and Ant Ward (supervising producer, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) at Nickelodeon in Burbank, Calif.
“I’ve loved Donatello since I was old enough to love things. Even though his color was purple and he just had a stick, he was always my favorite Turtle…possibly because time is a flat circle and I somehow knew I’d one day be lucky enough to voice him,” said Josh Brener (Donatello). Brener also added, “I didn’t know I’d be so lucky as to do it alongside the coolest, funniest, all-around greatest non-turtle human people! Turtle Power!”
Brandon Mychal Smith (Michelangelo) said, ““Being granted the honor of voicing my childhood superhero and growing up watching the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series made this opportunity that much more of a true dream come true. There is cool and then there’s this-becoming Michelangelo, which for me is absolutely out of this world, spectacularly, magnificently, groovy, cool with a splash of oooooo yeahhh!”