Canadian actor Will Arnett is best known for his comedic roles, but the 44-year-old is playing it straight in upcoming movie Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT).
Arnett, who voiced Batman in this year's hugely successful The Lego Movie, plays his first action role as cameraman Vernon Fenwick in the Michael Bay-produced film.
The movie, based on the popular 80s comic-book series also stars Megan Fox as rookie journalist April O'Neil, and tells the origin story of how four turtles - Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello and Michelangelo - and a rat Splinter went from being lab experiments to become chop-socking vigilantes.
The affable actor with a gravelly voice sat down with M to talk about how this dramatic role makes him a cooler dad to his two sons, who are fans of the cartoon.
What was your first reaction when you got this role?
I was excited to do this movie because it's something that my sons (Archibald, six, and Abel, four) are fans of. I was also excited to do an action version with the whole reimagining of this world."
Does that make you a cooler dad?
Obviously (laughs). I don't know if that makes me a cooler dad, but it gives me something that my kids and I can experience together.
This is your first action role. How did you prepare for it?
I did have to physically prepare, get into shape, work with the trainers. I'm not going to bore you with the details of working with trainers.
But I did have to get into shape, and I wasn't prepared for how much it was going to take out of me.
You are famous for your comedic roles (in TV series Arrested Development and 30 Rock) and you received five Emmy nominations for them. Do you think it will be hard for the audience to take you seriously?
Maybe? I still have the benefit of this character being light-hearted. I keep it light and funny, but it's exciting for me to do characters that aren't necessarily just based in comedy.
You also do a lot of voice-overs for animated movies (The Nut Job, The Lego Movie, Despicable Me). Which do you prefer?
I have a lot of fun working on the animated stuff; it's a different exercise. It's kind of freeing in a way because I am not restricted by the physical world. I can go to Mars if I want.
In this movie, of course it is more physically demanding, but it is still fun in its own right.
How was it like working with Megan Fox again?
It was great. I've known Megan for a number of years, and we acted in Jonah Hex together.
We had rapport and it was familiar hanging around her, which made it much easier for our characters.
Who is your favourite superhero?
I've always been a Batman fan. When I was a kid, I was into the Spider-Man comic for a while, just because I love the notion that he could shoot webs out of his wrists.
I was curious how that works. I love that I never understood it. But what I love about Batman is that he doesn't have any superpower. He is just a regular guy who uses his intellect to devise a way to create tools or whatever.
This article was published on Aug 6 in The New Paper.
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