Raphael was always the Turtle I related to the most watching the 1990 “TMNT” growing up. He was angry at the world for reasons he didn’t understand (and some that he did). His mistakes bothered him more than the other Turtles’ did. He liked to freely visit the surface world without wanting to live there. Even in a group of outsiders, Raph was always the odd one out. I’m sure I wasn’t alone in connecting to a superhero like that.
Having a single actor embody every aspect of the character probably only helped to make him more relatable. In addition to wearing the Turtle suit (with Kenn Troum serving as his stunt double) and doing the voice, Pais was also responsible for Raphael’s facial expressions, which were operated by the puppeteer David Greenaway. “It was a very close relationship because he was basically watching what I would do in [the film’s] rehearsals, and then seeing how we could make something similar animatronically with this turtle head,” Pais told THR.
Between the scorching temperatures when “TMNT” began filming in the summer of 1989 and the discomfort of having to wear a 70-pound claustrophobic costume all day long, getting into character wasn’t exactly hard for Pais. “The first thing we shot might have been when you first see the Turtles walking through the sewer and coming into where they live. Everything that could go wrong went wrong,” Pais explained. “[…] Those frustrations helped me to really find a way to physicalize Raphael’s anger — his fury. The whole situation, I just used it to create this guy.”