Josh Brener on TMNT Revival: ‘The Fandom is Real’ (Exclusive)

We met up with Josh Brener – the voice of Donatello – at New York Comic Con to discuss the popular revival.

If you’re living under a rock, the iconic Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series is back on television! Airing all over Nickelodeon, you can now catch your favorite gang of pizza-eating, Cowabonga spitting turtles in Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesThe first episode of the new revival aired on July 20, 2018 and follows the four turtle brothers – Raph, Leo, Donnie and Mikey – as they encounter new allies and villains and discover a magical world they never knew existed beneath the streets of New York City.

You might know funny man Josh Brener from some of his popular projects like Silicon Valley, but now he’s taken on the iconic role of Donatello! We caught up with the busy actor to learn more about the show and what fans can expect from his version of the lovable turtle.

CS: For those you don’t watch, what can they expect for this revival?

Josh: “Yeah, definitely! Our creators and executive producers have really put the focus on fun and making sure this isn’t only about the history of the turtles and where they’ve been, but also a new generation of fans and a new generation of turtles and sort of watching them start out and kind of mess everything up and just be disasters as they’re learning to become the Ninja Turtles which is a lot of fun to watch.”

CS: What drew you to this role? Were you fan?

Josh: “Oh yeah! Like the 8-year-old inside of me was screaming. I remember getting an email that was like “you’re going to go read for The Ninja Turtles” – it was like that’s crazy! Yeah, it’s just super exciting to be a part of something that I was so in love with as a kid and that so many people, it’s just awesome to come to Cons and just seeing how many people like are super into the Turtles!”

CS: The fandom is real when it comes to the Turtles!

Josh: “The fandom is real. So yeah it’s just cool to be a part of something that means that much to that many people.”

CS: Who was your favorite ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle’?

Josh: “I actually was a Donatello fan which I remember taking a lot of heat for as a kid, like oh he just has a stick everyone else has swords and Katanas – and Donatello has like a piece of wood. And I remember getting made fun of but now I’m feeling pretty good about it. I stayed strong! I represented.”

CS: What’s the working process like for you and the rest of the cast?

Josh: “Yeah we actually record together pretty much every Monday afternoon! Which is super cool we all get to get in the booth together and riff and ad-lib and sort of play off each other and every now and then schedules make it so you have to record by yourself and that’s always kind of sad. But when we’re all together, it’s just a ton of fun!” 

Courtesy of Nickelodeon

CS: So pizza is a big thing in this series…

Josh: “Correct!”

CS: Do you have a favorite type of pizza?

Josh: “Oh man! I’m human I love it. I enjoy pizza as much as Turtles who also love pizza. Trying to think because I’m in New York so it’s really scary to talk about pizza. I really remember loving Koronet here. I think it’s somewhere up near Columbia or something like that but there’s one of those giant slices of pizza on the Upper West Side and I think it’s called Koronet so if I had a gun to my head off hand just because I’m in New York it’s in my mind.”

CS: For you – what do you think you brought different to the role of Donatello?

Josh: “Donny’s still that like nerdy, tech kind of guy… inventions and so far but he’s not like a poindexter nerd in this version I don’t think. Like it’s not glasses taped up and a pocket protector, he’s very much like a nerd’s nerd, more like someone you would find here at Comic Con. Takes the nerddom seriously, a nerd’s nerd if you know what I mean.”

CS: Any secrets you can tell us about the making of this revival?

Josh: “Okay, what can I tell you? I don’t know if it’s a secret but it’s a thing that I think is super cool which is that we have this awesome cast of villains including John Cena and he’s both the coolest and nicest and scariest person that I’ve ever met. He’s such a.. he’s awesome! And then Lena Headey as you might know as Cersei Lannister from Game of Thrones and plays this character Big Momma and John Michael Higgins and Reese Darby so we just have all these kind of awesome cool people. And then the other thing that is kind of exciting I think is that our director is Rob Paulson who is like the original Michelangelo and he’s played Donatello. He’s also Pinky of Pinky and the Brain so we have like really cool awesome people associated with this show which has been a lot of fun.”

Want more TMNT scoop? Check out our latest video with Brandon Mychal Smith now! 

Written by Cassie Hudson