Elysium star William Fichtner takes on the villainous role of The Shredder in the upcoming reboot of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and the versatile character actor puts a few Internet rumors about the film to rest, saying with a laugh to ETonline, "I can tell you this much: There's an April, there's a Shredder, there are four Turtles. What else do you need? Come on!"
Fans were seriously upset when Michael Bay, who is producing the movie, announced back in 2012 that the title characters would be from an alien race, and that the film's title would simply be called Ninja Turtles. He subsequently clarified his statements after there was such a huge fan backlash, telling everyone they needed to " take a breath, and chill -- they have not read the script," and the title has been restored to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
"Listen, rumor had it that people were up in arms with a few things about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," said an amused Fichtner. "I can tell you this much: The experience for me was really cool. I have nieces and nephews that grew up in the '80s, and if you were a kid, then that's what the Turtles were. But what I didn't realize when I started working on the film is how big that fan base still is. It's really huge, and … I get why Michael would want to produce a new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. You've got an audience that was there, but also, I think, kids are ready to see something like this again."
Asked how much the new TMNT story draws on the characters' comic book roots, Fichtner replies, "There's people who could speak to that better than I. You know, I really wasn't a Turtle aficionado and knew all of the backstory. There are some people that know all of the backstory, and that's one of the wonderful things about doing what I do, and sometimes playing a role like this. … For me, I want to find, 'What do you want to do with it now? Who is this guy to you right now? Because I'll tell you who this guy is to me.' And it's finding that collaboration that's exciting about working on this.
"But I will say this much: We've supplied the character of Eric Sachs (aka Shredder) with an awesome time, and with an awful lot of great twists and turns for a guy. But more importantly, I don't think that any version that I've ever seen of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles got you ready for what this one is. This is a whole new deal. This is a whole new ballgame. These turtles are unlike anything you've ever seen. They're crazy, it's freaky, it's live-action, and it's going to look awesome. I love Jonathan Liebesman, who directed it. I really felt that he got an amazing handle on what it was and what he wanted, and we'll see. August 8, next year. Can't wait!"
And, of course, there was plenty of warm pizza on the set? "That's right!" Fichtner replies enthusiastically.
In Elysium, out on Blu-ray December 17, Fichtner plays John Carlyle, a resident of Elysium who oversees the droid factory floor where Matt Damon's character works. A pivotal supporting role, Carlyle plots a takeover of the floating space station with Jodie Foster's character -- and uploads a system override virus into his brain that only he can enact when the time is right.
Fichtner tells ETonline that he was a big fan of writer-director Neill Blomkamp's District 9, and the script for Elysium truly inspired him: "My imagination could run in whatever the world was going to be. … In both of Neill's films, District 9 and Elysium, there are so many moments that clearly take the bar to the next level."
He adds of his character's mindset, "The people of Elysium are incredibly protective of their life and their world; so much so, that for us, if you lived on Earth, you go, 'Really? The human condition and humanity of these people -- did it really come to the point where there is none?' But I don't think [the residents of Elysium] look at it that way."
In terms of the film's social commentary regarding the Haves and Have-Nots of future Earth, Fichtner concludes, "I think there is no film that is more relevant in this day and age. Until we find peace on Earth, these films will always be the most relevant."
Elysium arrives on Blu-ray Tuesday, December 17. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is expected in theaters August 8, 2014.