NEW YORK — Tyler Perry’s iconic “Madea” character might have a thing or two to say to his newest creation, the offbeat genius scientist he portrays in “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows” (opening Friday).
“Frankly I don’t think those two would ever travel in the same circles,” the actor and filmmaker said. “But if Madea would see Stockman, I think she’d say, ‘You’re wearing suspenders — and a belt? What’s up with that!’ ”
For Perry, “it was a total blast to play this guy in the ‘Turtles’ film. He’s so complicated and misunderstood, and that was the best part of playing him.”
Since his Dr. Baxter Stockman is such a technical and scientific whiz, was that something Perry could relate to as well?
“Heck no! I don’t understand any of that lingo. I screwed up my lines left and right while we were filming. All his chatter about techno this and techno that. I had never heard of any of it in my life, but he was fun to play.”
Along with Perry, another new addition to the franchise is Stephen Amell, best known for his starring role in the TV series “Arrow.” In “Out of the Shadows,” Amell plays a cop, Casee Jones, who is bent on making detective, but when the world’s worst criminal — Shredder — escapes from his custody (while en route to a new prison), Jones’ police career appears to be finished. By hooking up with the Turtles (and becoming a romantic interest of their biggest advocate, April O’Neil, played by Megan Fox), Jones becomes part of the crime-fighting action as the Turtles work to save the world from ultimate destruction.
“I think it’s such a crazy idea, this concept of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” Amell said. “It’s so out there and bizarre. But there’s a universal theme here, because at the end of the day, it’s about the relationship between four brothers: the Turtles Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo and Donatello. So, anyone who has brothers or sisters or close friends who are like siblings can relate to the struggles we’ve all gone through in adolescence.”
Perry agreed with that concept, plus he added another twist. “Along with the fantasy aspects and the excitement of the special effects and all that, there’s something else that’s key. If the characters are ones you care about — and that goes for all of these fantasy, superhero characters — then you’ll stay involved with their stories. From when I was a kid, I remember caring about the Turtles and what was happening with them.”
Yet for Will Arnett, who is back playing Vern, the former cameraman who became a national hero after the Turtles gave him credit for their heroic acts in the last film, the success of the Turtles franchise has to do with its tone.
“What I love about these movies is that they involve superheroes doing these stupendous things and there are great, non-stop action sequences. But most importantly, they don’t take themselves too seriously. There is so much humor in these scripts. So many superhero movies take themselves seriously, which is fine. But I love being part of the one that’s more lighthearted.
“I mean, come on! In this film, you see Vern selling plastic bags filled with his own breath! How absurd is that? But also how funny. … That’s an example of what I’m talking about. Vern’s character is used to make fun of the potential for taking oneself too seriously.”
On a few occasions, Amell’s Casey Jones is seen using his skill with skates and a hockey stick to help save the day. As a native Canadian, Amell quipped, “At any point in time, anyone from Canada can put you in a pair of skates and give you a hockey stick.
“If you don’t deliver an impersonation of someone with a relative knowledge of hockey, they will just take that passport away!”