It was a bit of a surprise for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fans when it was announced that actor William Fichtner would playing the part of the Turtles’ long-time arch-nemesis, The Shredder. Of course, that surprise has nothing to do with Fichtner’s acting skills, which many would consider above average, but rather it’s because the character of Shredder has always been, across all the various media the Turtles have appeared in, Japanese.
But William Fichtner’s not being Japanese seems to not be an impediment to his portraying Shredder in the new film version of TMNT, being directed by Jonathan Liebesman and produced by Michael Bay. In an interview with Screen Rant, Fichtner discussed some of the changes to the character, including a name and race change. “I actually play a guy named Eric Sachs in the movie. And then he goes through a few stages in his existence,” he explained.
On the surface, I guess we can take “Eric Sachs” as the Westernized version of Shredder’s original name Oroku Saki, and while Shredder hasn’t always been portrayed by Asian actors – African American actors James Avery and Kevin Michael Richardson voiced the character in the ’80s cartoon and the current Nickelodeon series respectively – this would be the first time the Shredder, as a character, has been portrayed as a white man. James Saito and François Chau played Shredder in the first two live-action Ninja Turtles movies in ’90 and ’91.
As to what other changes fans can expect from Fichtner’s Shredder, the actor, understandably, couldn’t go into anymore detail.
“There is a whole interesting dynamic that happens in the world of Turtles and all I can really say about it at this point while working on it is that the Turtle film, it’s not like anything that I remember about the Turtles before,” he added. “I feel like this Michael Bay-produced movie is just gonna really be something else. I’m pretty excited.”
Of course that’s what we’d expect him to say of a movie he’s working on, but the real test will be whether or not Turtles fans buy the changes to their favourite characters when the film is released next summer.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles stars Alan Ritchson, Noel Fisher, Jeremy Howard, Pete Ploszek, Megan Fox, Will Arnett, and William Fichtner. It opens June 6, 2014.
As for you Ninja Turtles fans out there, what do you think of this latest version of Shredder? Enraged yet, or are you going to give Bay and Liebesman the benefit of the doubt?