Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle: Mutant Mayhem’s Micah Abbey on Playing “Genius Smart” Donatello

Micah Abbey, the voice of Donatello in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem, explains what makes his turtle tick.

Donatello in TMNT: Mutant Mayhem
Photo: Paramount

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Donatello’s the brain of the four Turtle brothers. A genius with a love of technology (after all, the ‘80s intro did state that “Donatello does machines”), he’s also a massive nerd, more left-brained than right-brained. He runs off logic and tries to calculate every move in the hope of doing everything perfectly. Splinter tells Donatello he has wisdom and the Turtles will need it in their battles against the other mutants attacking New York. Donatello is also a massive fan of anime and K-pop.

Donatello actor Micah Abbey states that the perfect place for Donny would be “living in the future.” He even bonds with mutant enemy Wingnut thanks to their shared level of intelligence and interest in technology and logic. Expect to see all kinds of gadgets and inventions from Donatello coming into play when the Turtles take on the mission to save New York City.

Micah Abbey is best known for his starring role as Leaf in the Nickelodeon series Cousins for Life and also made appearances in Grey’s Anatomy, Action Nat and the Cat, Bunk’d, and Meet the Voxels.

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Den of Geek: How did you and the other Turtles go about creating that sibling-like dynamic in your acting?

Micah Abbey: It was really smart to put us all in a room together when we were recording. Instead of just reading lines on a page, you get to bounce off each other’s energy and feel what the vibe is. On top of that, because we were together in person, we were able to spend time outside of the studio just hanging out as friends, and we really created a tight bond between us just because we spent so much time together in and outside of the studio.

What was a typical recording day like for you?

They made sure that all four Turtles were either on a Zoom call or all together in LA, recording together. Whether it was with us and the villains or just us by ourselves, it was always with the other four Turtles to make sure we had that energy that we are constantly bouncing off each other. When we get together in the studio it’s all jokes…. It doesn’t even feel like work to me. We’re not even going directly off the script because they encourage us to improv a lot. We’re just making our own jokes and adding things that we felt would fit. If I said something then Brady thought he could add something and then Shamon would add something and then Nicolas would add something and then we’d just keep on making it funnier and funnier.

What did you bring to the character of Donatello? Did you draw on your own experiences?

I would say I’m kind of smart. I wouldn’t say I’m Donatello genius smart, but I took a lot of the characteristics of being inventive and intelligent from my friends. My friends are very smart and inventive. Donny, specifically, really likes K-pop and anime, and I have lots of friends who are very into those things. So I grabbed those personality traits from my friends. I also took parts from older movies and series in this franchise.

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Donatello gets labeled as a nerd, but some fans have referred to him as “smooooooth Donatello.” Does he get to show off any of that smoothness in this movie?

I think they’ll get a little taste of it, because Donatello is so intelligent that he gets to play things off really smooth. He’s a little bit of a show-off because when he does something right, he wants everyone to know it was done by him, and he’s the man. The smoothness definitely comes off in this movie.

What do you hope audiences will take away from the character of Donatello and your portrayal of him?

That it’s okay to be nerdy. It’s okay to not be like your siblings or your friends. It’s okay to stick out sometimes for being yourself. Donatello is the one who sticks out most from his brothers because he’s more into technology than fighting. It’s important to remember that it’s okay to be the odd man out. It’s okay to be yourself. You will find a group that can relate to you.

What do you have to say to the longtime Ninja Turtles fans who are coming into this movie?

Be prepared to have some laughs. Be prepared to have some fun. I know there are a lot of different versions of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and it’s good to switch it up sometimes. We kept a lot of the original stuff, but we added our own little spice to it. Be excited for this movie.

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What do you think of the look of the animation?

When I first saw it I was literally freaking out in the booth. I was like, “oh, my gosh, this is gonna be the best animation of the year.” The animation is so unique and cool. Although there’s always gonna be different versions of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, there’s always gonna be that same energy—but because of the different animation it adds a whole different feel. It brings a new character to the whole franchise.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem hits theaters on Aug. 2.

*Parts of this interview are courtesy of EPK.