Film

William Fichtner: Baddies, jerks and duelling with turtles

William Fichtner on how he channels his inner bad guy to spar with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles...

Are the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles your favourite anthropomorphic characters?

You said that word – that was spectacular. The answer is yes. They have to be!

Have you always been a fan of Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael and Donatello?

A lot of my nieces and nephews grew up in the 1980s and if you were a kid in the ’80s, one of your birthday parties – whether you were a boy or girl – was Turtle-themed. I was certainly aware of it, there’s no doubt about that.

And which is your favourite artist?

I’m going to have to go with Raphael.

Why’s that?

You know… just a matter of taste.

You have to name your favourite work now otherwise it will seem like you just picked him at random.

There are just too many to mention…

How can you play a role seriously when you know that your co-stars are giant mutant, talking reptiles?

Quite honestly, how do you play it straight in a scene when you’re talking to someone over some life-and-death situation that is completely made up because it’s in a script? When I’m shooting Armageddon, how do I believe I’m flying a shuttle that’s about to land on an asteroid? Odds are that’s not going to happen in my life. It’s not for me to question whether it’s real or not, it’s for me to figure out how to fully realise my character in this world. It’s that leap of faith as an actor.

Your character Eric Sacks is the baddie but the Turtles’ real nemesis is Shredder. Is that who you were originally supposed to play?

In the original shooting of the film Shredder was mixed in with who Eric Sacks is but as the movie was being put together the feeling was it might be better to have them separate.

What makes a good baddie?

The question you’re asking is, “When you’re playing a villain…” but if you go into it thinking they’re the villain then I think you’re limiting yourself on what you can potentially find with the character. A jerk doesn’t believe he’s a jerk. In life we go forward with our agenda and what we believe in and it may not be what everybody else would think but what that ends up giving you is a character that’s real.

Do villains have to believe themselves that they’re the hero?

I don’t think an actor – at least not this actor – says, oh he’s the bad guy, let’s see how much I can twirl my moustache. As an actor you have to fill in the blanks of why. All of a sudden you have a more rounded character. You may not like the psychology of it but you understand why it’s important for them to do what they do.

What is the most villainous thing you have done on film?

Let me think… They’re all the sweetest guys in the world, but I cut out and ate the heart of the Lone Ranger’s brother.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is out now on Blu-ray and DVD

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