This weekend, fans of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will be hitting the theaters to see Jonathan Liebesman’s updated take on the pizza-loving crime fighters. In the film, Megan Fox plays April O’Neil, a news reporter whom the turtles befriend.
But it was Judith Hoag who was the original actress to take on the role in the 1990 version. However, during an interview with Variety, she admitted that she had never heard of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and she almost didn’t take one the role.
“When I first heard of it, I thought it was a horror film,” she recalled. “‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ is such a strange name. I wasn’t into the comic books at all.”
Twenty-two years old at the time, Hoag was in the middle of filming Cadillac Man, so her schedule prevented her from doing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. However, the producers made it to where she could work on the film during the weekends, and she would fly from New York to Wilmington, North Carolina.
“People would be wondering where I would racing off to on a Friday,” she mentioned. “I bashfully said ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.'”
What Judith didn’t know at the time was her Cadillac Man co-star, Robin Williams, was a huge Ninja Turtles fan.
“Robin was like, ‘Are they making a movie of that!?’ He was so excited,” she added. “I’m a brand new actor, my career was just starting off and I had Robin Williams’ seal of approval. After that, I would proudly say the ‘Turtles’ name.”
In the Ninja Turtles comic books and cartoon series, April O’Neil wore a yellow jump suit. When the film’s director, Steve Barron, tried getting Hoag to put on their version of the outfit, it ended up not working out so well.
“They had this really horrifying white jumpsuit and dyed it yellow,” she noted.
The now 46-year-old Judith added that the costume was “nixed.” She also mentioned that she hated her hairstyle in the movie.
“They gave me this really horrible perm and it never cooperated,” Hoag said.
There were two other Ninja Turtles films in the 90s — Secret of the Ooze and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III. However, Hoag was replaced by Paige Turco in those films, and she believes the producers didn’t ask her to reprise the role because she was “too demanding.” As she recalled, it might have been her complaint to the producers about the long work weeks and the amount of violence in the film that led them to not ask her to come back.
“Everybody was beating everybody up,” she said. “I thought the movie suffered because of that. It was something I spoke to the producers about; I think they thought I was too demanding and moved on.”
Once Secret of the Ooze was released, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fans noticed that Hoag was replaced.
“The kids were upset,” she said. “When the third movie came around, they came back to me and asked if I would consider it. I said, ‘Yeah.’ Then they said, ‘Nah. If the kids got confused the first time, they might get confused again.'”
But she is glad to be part of Ninja Turtles history. During an interview with The Nerdist, she called the fans “amazing.”
“I cannot say enough about the devotion and love that I feel from all those young boys and girls who are now men and women who love ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,'” she said. “It’s stunning to me.”
And she has nothing against Turco replacing her in the Ninja Turtles sequels.
“Paige is lovely,” she added. “It’s nothing about Paige.”
Since her role on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Hoag has made appearances in a variety of television shows including HBO’s Big Love and ABC’s Nashville. She has also appeared in numerous films such as Hitchcock and Bad Words. But it was the role of April O’Neil that “totally helped” her career, even though she “didn’t know at the time.”
“It’s amazing to me that people still treasure the movie like they do,” she mentioned. “I have workers in my house now doing construction, and one of them came back and said, ‘You’re April O’Neil!'”
Hoag added that people recognize her “every day” as the woman who originally played the role of April O’Neil.
“It happens at airports and at supermarkets,” she said. “People loved this movie.”
And she might go check out Liebesman’s take on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
“I will see it out of curiosity,” Hoag said. “You want the franchise to keep going forward and do well.”
In a related report from The Inquisitr, the updated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is looking to take the top spot at the box office away from last week’s champion, Guardians of the Galaxy. Analysts are predicting that Ninja Turtles will earn somewhere between $58 million and $61 million, while Guardians could earn about $42 million.
[Inline image credit: New Line Cinema via Geek Magazine]