‘Ninja Turtles’ Actress Minae Noji on Donatello, Milkshakes, and Jeremy Lin
"I used to fantasize about hanging out in the Turtles' lair and eating pizza with the Turtles." Minae Noji's unbridled excitement is audible over the phone. Noji — who grew up reading Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic books, watching the various cartoon incarnation,s and studying the TMNT film series — plays Karai, Shredder's granddaughter, in the 2014 re-boot that hits theaters today.
And Noji isn't faking it with her TMNT fandom. She had a pet turtle as a kid. Pet rats, too. She collected Turtles figurines. Her nickname was Donatella, because of her over-the-top obsession with Donatello. She even has the same birthday as TMNT creator Kevin Eastman.
"Ninja Turtles was already in my blood, so this project was a dream come true," Noji says. "Had you told me as a kid that I would be a part of the franchise legacy, I would have peed my panties."
So what can fans expect from director Jonathan Liebesman's shellshocked reimagining? According to Noji, the film has an edgier, darker feel than previous versions. And the Turtles are bigger — literally, physically bigger. But! "The Turtles are still hilarious," she assures us. Incredible action sequences, the same Turtles integrity and producer Michael Bay's secret sauce? Just take our money, already.
Of course, while we had Noji on the line, we had to run her through the rigorous ANTENNA Q+A, which she passed with flying colors. Check out her thoughts on everything from chocolate milkshakes in the afterlife to her miserable fourth-grade love triangle below.
1. What was your favorite childhood cartoon and why?
This is going to sound like a convenient answer, but it was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I know it sounds ridiculous, but it really, really was. The reason I connected to the Turtles was they didn't fit the typical hero mold, which is chiseled and dark and serious. They're mutant ninja turtles: They eat pizza and they cracked a lot of hilarious jokes, but then they still fought, and there was heart.
2. When you go to the movie theater, what’s your must-have candy or popcorn situation?
[Laughs] Large popcorn, extra butter, extra salt. If the movie is horror or action, then I will pair the popcorn with a Cherry Slurpee. But if it's anything else, then I usually pair it with a jumbo size Kit Kat bar. If it's a tearjerker, though, I just combine all three of those things, and it's an eating frenzy.
3. What’s the best TV show out right now?
For me, I would say Family Feud. I know that sounds crazy [Laughs]. I even YouTube old versions of Family Feud, the bloopers.
4. Kobe or LeBron?
I would say Jeremy Lin.
5. Favorite Disney Princess?
I'm not a princess kind of gal, so can I say Tinker Bell? She's not a princess but I love Tinker Bell.
6. When is the last time you Googled yourself, and why?
It was two or three days ago. I heard from a friend that I was secretly dating John Stamos. Isn't he married or something? So I looked it up to find out, because I had no idea I was secretly dating him. Obviously it turns out I'm not dating him, so I'm not surprised that he hasn't called me [Laughs].
7. What’s your shower routine?
I turn it up really hot, and then typically I just stand there and let the water hit my head for a few minutes. That's my time to decompress. Then I lather up, and I will sing either En Vogue or Sting, or sometimes I even rap a little MC Hammer.
8. What do you think happens when you die?
I did have an experience where I thought I died once. And if death is anything like what I experienced, then when you die, you go to the planet Jupiter, and get to drink a bunch of chocolate shakes, and you never feel full.
9. Tell us about your biggest heartbreak.
Adam Nagata. 4th Grade. Damn you, Jessica Nelson. [Laughs]
10. President Obama, in one word?