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 411mania » Movies » Columns

411mania.com Interviews: The Voice of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' Michelangelo, Greg Cipes
Posted by Jeffrey Harris on 08.10.2013

Recently I got the chance to sit down and speak with actor Greg Cipes. Cipes is currently the voice of Michelangelo in the most recent animated iteration of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles now airing on Nickelodeon. The season finale for the show will soon be airing on TV. Cipes also works on Ultimate Spider-Man as the voice of Iron Fist (aka Danny Rand), Teen Titans Go! as Beast Boy (he also voiced Beast boy in the previous Teen Titans animated series). In front of the camera, Cipes has a recurring role on the hit FX series Anger Management as Canvas. He's also recently appeared on The Middle and NCIS: Los Angeles. The multi-talented Cipes also has his own band he plays in called Super Space Fighters.

Here's what went down when Cipes spoke about getting to play a pop culture icon in Michelangelo.

Jeffrey Harris: You're working on a lot of hit shows right now. It must feel pretty good to be Greg Cipes.

Greg Cipes: *Laughs* It does feel good to be right now, and that's what life's all about. You must feel good in yourself. I'm very grateful for all the opportunities involved and working with such great people. I'm on Anger Management right now with Charlie Sheen. I've got a recurring role on that. So with every aspect of my life, including my band Super Space Fighters, it's all popping off. And I feel like it all just had to do with me just doing everything that I love all the time, and the universe reflects for me.

Jeffrey Harris: What was it like for you when you found out you were going to play the new Michelangelo in this series?

Greg Cipes: It was one of the best days of my life when I got the call because it was a long casting process. I finally got it after a year of callbacks and meetings. I was just blown away, and it meant a lot to me because I grew up with the Turtles. The Turtles made me who I am today in a big way. It was my favorite show as a kid. It got me into meditation, martial arts, speed boarding, and generally like the positive person that I am today is because of the Turtles. And that's what we're doing today for the next generation.

Jeffrey Harris: What is going on for a year that you have to find out you're playing this role? Do you have to do a martial arts demo reel? Do you have to dress up as a turtle? Why is it such a painstaking process to figure out what seems to me pretty obvious that you are Michelangelo?

Greg Cipes: Well thank you. I definitely feel like I'm Michelangelo. Also the fact that my middle name is Michael – in many countries, your middle name is your name. I am Mikey for sure. Nickelodeon had to go through every voice actor in the whole world to be sure that they were getting the right guy. So out of who knows how many thousands and thousands of voice actors reading for the part, I made it through. And they find the right Mikey like you were suggesting.

Jeffrey Harris: In the prequel motion comics for the show, Splinter actually voiced that Michelangelo was actually the most talented and naturally gifted martial artist of the series. And then there was an episode in the series where Splinter explains how Michelangelo naturally fights with a clear head, he fights without really thinking. It's a talent that the other Turtles really don't have. Have you noticed this throughout playing Michelangelo?

Greg Cipes: I have, and I've experienced it in my own life as Greg Cipes by teaching me not to think. And what happens when you don't think? Yeah, sometimes you get in a little trouble, but ultimately you're energized, you're a better fighter, you're more active. You have lightning moving through you. So that works to his benefit. That makes him a better fighter. He doesn't think. He just does it. Just like an animal. So he's probably the most turtle-like of all the Turtles too. He's the most animalistic. Ciro Nieli also told me that many times too, that Mikey is the best fighter. And they make sure when animating it, the whole team always does Mikey right.

Jeffrey Harris: When the Turtles previously encountered Shredder, they weren't a match for him and they had to turn turtle tail and run away. Is this Shredder too much of a match for the Turtles?

Greg Cipes: Well you'll have to tune in to watch that really. We have been training all season for this. So I feel like if any time we're going to take down Shredder, this could be the one.

Jeffrey Harris: Now that Leonardo has Karai and Donatello has the hots for April, when is Michelangelo going to get paired? Get some love for Mikey?

Greg Cipes: I know all the great characters in the Turtle-dom, which I call it, the Turtle-dom are going to show up in this series. All the characters you've loved. So if there's ever been a relationship the fans want explored with Mikey, it probably will be. If it showed up in the comic books, then it's going to show up. And that's why the show is so cool because it's really based in the original comic.

Jeffrey Harris: What is it like when get to go with a show like this to a convention like Comic-Con and meet with all the fans?

Greg Cipes: It's what I live for. I love connecting with kids. I love connecting with children of all ages to keep their imagination active because that's the key to happiness and imagination and creativity. It's like the big payoff to sitting in a recording booth for hundreds of hours all the time which is also very fun because the cast and everyone to work with is awesome. But the best part is the fans, meeting up with the fans. And I get to travel around the whole world. Supernova in Australia, I get to do that tour very often. Different cons – more and more I'm doing it because I want to be with the fans. It's my favorite thing. And the fans love Mikey.

Jeffrey Harris: Do you like to get any of the merchandise or toys for any of the characters you play?

Greg Cipes: I have all of them. I have every toy pretty much of any character I've ever played.

Jeffrey Harris: Is there any other character you like a lot besides Mikey? Like any other character in the Turtle mythology or Turtle-dom?

Greg Cipes: Well I love Ralph. He's like my big brother in the show, but also in real life. Sean Astin (the voice of Raphael in the show), he is one of the sweetest dudes ever. And I love Raphael's energy. I've always loved Raphael. Even as a kid, it would be Mikey and Raphael I dressed up as.

Jeffrey Harris: Ultimate Spider-Man got announced for season 3 at Comic-Con. I loved the Iron Fist spotlight episode this season where he returns to K'un L'un. George Takei voiced his mentor. It was a great episode because we learn a lot about Iron Fist's background –

Greg Cipes: And Dante Basco too.

Jeffrey: Right as the Scorpion, yeah.

Greg Cipes: He's a good friend of mine. I love working with Dante.

Jeffrey Harris: How do you like when we get to learn more about Iron Fist and that he's staying around for season 3?

Greg Cipes: He's awesome. I love playing Iron Fist. He's a big part of who I am as well these days as a meditator and a Zen master which I work on constantly every day. So Iron Fist is teaching me as well. It's so cool to play all these characters because they are all personifications of personality traits of my own that I get to explore and develop.

Jeffrey Harris: Did you come up with the Booyakasha catchphrase or was that already in the script?

Greg Cipes: I came up with it. They allowed me to come up with a catchphrase if it was going to work and it worked. Before we recorded the first episode of season one, they didn't have a phrase. They didn't want to use cowabunga right away. And they were like, "We need a catchphrase." And out came booyakasha, and now it's a global phenomenon which is so cool that I came up with it.

Jeffrey Harris: Anything else you're working on you'd like to share with the fans or our readers?

Greg Cipes: Well I have a TV show that I've created that's being produced by Seth Green and Fly on the Wall, who produced Big Brother, and it's a show about my life. And that should be coming out right around the corner. We're not sure what network yet. It's going to explore and show behind-the-scenes when I'm recording cartoons, teaching kids meditation, and how to basically live a healthy, happy, holy experience. That's one of the big things that is coming up…It's very exciting to be working with such talented people as Seth Green and Fly on the Wall and to have them be so interested in my life and what I'm doing. And the message that I share through everything that I do – which Mikey is that – is all about increasing the positive vibrations man.

Thank you to Greg for taking the time to speak with us. You can follow Greg Cipes on his Twitter account, @GregCipes and check out his official website, Gcipes.com, which has a new music video from his band Super Space Fighters.


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