The four leads of “Mutant Mayhem” are Micah Abbey (Donatello), Shamon Brown, Jr. (Michelangelo), Nicolas Cantu (Leonardo), and Brady Noon (Raphael). Of the four, only the 19-year-old Noon has had a notable acting career prior to this, having appeared in most of “Boardwalk Empire,” as well as the feature films “Good Boys,” “Marry Me,” and as the lead character in the two animated “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” movies. The four ninja turtles are brothers, and, as such, require a certain kind of brotherly antagonism that anyone with multiple siblings might recognize. They love each other, but they don’t always get along.
Rogen points out that in every single iteration of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” almost all of the actors portraying them were adults. He wanted, then, to finally zero in on the “teenage” part of the title, and cast actual kids in the roles; the current cast is between the ages of 15 and 19. Abbey noted that every single scene required him and his three co-stars to be in the room at the same time. What’s more, their movements were filmed, giving the animators a physical basis on which to form the characters’ animated performances. Co-director Jeff Rowe said in the video that he liked the notion of all four characters talking over each other, which is very uncommon in animation; usually, lines are separated out for clarity’s sake. “It was so much more alive!,” Rogen said.
Brown bragged that he and his co-stars improvised a lot of their dialogue, a thought backed up by Rogen who loved hearing the organic, awkward insults the cast would hurl at each other while in character.
Cantu noted that the directors didn’t tell them how to be teenagers. They were merely allowed to be teenagers.