Peter Laird Responds To ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ Movie Rumors; Confirms Deal For Live-Action/CGI Hybrid Is ‘Close’

Earlier this month, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” co-creator Kevin Eastman created significant buzz when he posted on his website that talks were underway for a new live-action film featuring the comic book characters he created alongside Peter Laird back in 1983.

The post was removed a short time later after “Turtles” writer Steve Murphy labeled it as “complete nonsense,” and Eastman offered up an apology to various industry peers for sharing information about the project. The beans had already been spilled, however, and though Eastman had sold his rights to the TMNT property back to Laird and Mirage Studios back in 2000, his connection to the property still generated significant speculation about the future of TMNT on the big screen.

So, in order to get the skinny on exactly what TMNT’s owners have planned for the Turtles, Splash Page spoke with the owner of the property and the Turtles’ main man, co-creator Peter Laird, about the live-action movie rumors, his thoughts on the recent CGI “TMNT” film and what TMNT fans can expect to see when (and if) the Turtles return to theaters.

MTV: Peter, there was a lot of buzz recently when Kevin Eastman posted on his website that there have been trips out to Northampton to talk with you, as well as [original “TMNT” director”] Steve Barron, about a potential live-action “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” film. How serious are these talks?

Peter Laird: I have to say that I don’t know why Kevin was talking about something with which he has no involvement. The blurb he put on his website was very inaccurate. He has not been involved with any meetings in Northampton, nor any others related to a new “TMNT” movie, as far as I know. That being said, I can confirm that we have had several meetings with very interested people, and I think we are pretty close to making a deal. As owner of the TMNT property, I want to be the first to announce it at a time of my choosing (hopefully soon).

MTV: Why another live-action TMNT film, and why now?

PL: As it stands now, there is no intention of doing another live-action film like the first three, with actors and stuntmen in actual Turtle suits, contrary to what was said by Kevin. We have pretty much decided that the next “TMNT” movie should be what we’ve been calling a “hybrid” — that is to say, live-action humans and sets combined with very realistic CGI Turtles (and possibly some other CGI characters).

MTV: If the hybrid “TMNT” film moves forward, what type of story is it going to tell? Will it be an origin story or something in continuity with one of the other TMNT properties?

PL: The storyline for this new “hybrid” movie has not been settled on yet. We’re still batting some different ideas around. The sky’s the limit. My preference would be a story which fits into TMNT movie continuity in some way. But nothing has been decided.

MTV: What characters (outside of the Turtles, of course) are most likely to end up in a live-action film like this? Will Shredder be involved?

PL: Given that we have yet to settle on a story for this new hybrid movie, I don’t really know which characters will appear in it. It would be fun to do something with the Shredder, but I am also excited about the possibility of creating some new characters for the movie.

MTV: Are there any actors who come to mind when thinking about potential characters in the film?

PL: I really liked the way Elias Koteas and Judith Hoag brought Casey and April to life in the first live-action movie — they each did a fantastic job. Unfortunately, I think they might be a little too old to play these characters now (even if they wanted to, and I have no idea if they would). However, I think Chris Evans and Sarah Michelle Gellar did wonderful work voicing the Casey and April characters in the recent CGI “TMNT” movie, and I think it would be really cool if we could get them to reprise those roles, but this time “in the flesh.” I think that might be the first time something like that has happened.

MTV: It’s been mentioned that the director of the original live-action film, Steve Barron. might return to the franchise for the next film. Why the interest in him rather than someone new?

PL: I have tremendous respect for Steve Barron and for the fantastic directing job he did on the first live-action “TMNT” movie. He saved that movie, basically. We’ve spoken to him a few times, and I would be very pleased if he ended up directing the next “TMNT” movie. That being said, I am pretty sure that right now no offer has been made or accepted. Again, I have to stress that we are still in the very beginning stages of this process.

MTV: What did you think of the CGI “TMNT” film?

PL: I would say that I am 95-percent happy with it. I think Kevin Munroe accomplished pretty much everything he set out to do, and told the story that we had come up with very well. The animation was just beautiful, and I have to commend, once more, all the people who worked to make it so. There are a few things I would have changed, and there were a few bits that got left out that I think could have made it better, but that’s just me being picky. I will say this: As much as I loved what Jim Henson and his crew accomplished with those rubber suits in the first “TMNT” live-action movie, I believe that CGI — especially now that it has reached the incredible level it has these days — is the way to go to realize fantastic creatures like the Turtles. The expressions the animators were able to get on the Turtles in this last movie were simply amazing.

MTV: What elements of the original live-action film worked the best, in your mind?

PL: Speaking solely of the first movie, I would say that for its time, the Turtle suits worked beautifully. I mean, we really could not, at that time, have asked for more. And Steve Barron was able to very cleverly work in the themes of family that made that first movie so much more than just a bunch of characters ninja-fighting. And he made the thing LOOK great. The lighting in that movie is, in my opinion, top notch.

MTV: Which elements of the original live-action film do you think could benefit from another treatment?

PL: I don’t think the first film needs to be remade, if that’s what you mean. But I would love to see a “Director’s Cut” or special edition of that movie, with some things that were cut out put back in. And although I think it HIGHLY unlikely, I would love to see the first film given a “digital touch-up,” if you will. By that I mean it would be very cool to go through it very carefully and digitally tweak all of the mistakes and goofs — for example, scenes where you can see an actor’s face inside a Turtle’s open mouth, wires hanging off the shell of a Turtle, and so forth.

Here’s one that always bugged me: As Leonardo is exiting April’s apartment, one of his sword hilts rubs against the wall… and it BENDS like rubber (which, in fact, it was, being a “stunt sword”). And taking it a step further, it would be fantastic to utilize digital technology to go back in and tweak and enhance the expressions on the animatronic faces of the Turtles, which in some scenes just don’t work too well.

So what do you think, Splash Page readers? Would you like to see another “Teenage Mutant Ninja turtles” movie? Do you think the “hybrid” style will work for the film? And who would you like to see in the film?