Actress Brittany Ishibashi is best known for her work on Eagle Eye, Revenge of the Bridesmaids, Supernatural, Political Animals, Emily Owens M.D., Everything Before Us, Bleed and Grace and Frankie. This June, fans will see her as Karai in Paramount’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows. Brittany recently chatted with TNWU and was a joy to talk to. I hope you all enjoy this interview as much as I enjoyed doing it!
Were you a fan of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles before you got the role of Karai?
“I am a huge fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. When this breakdown came out they weren’t releasing anything. They weren’t sending out scripts, they weren’t sending out sides. They just had very unclear, general title that said ‘Female Soldier’. I remember going through, and not being able to sleep, and thinking ‘I think this is Karai. I think Karai is gonna be in this movie. (laughs). And I was so excited. When it did turn into that role, again, I don’t think I slept for at least a few days. Then when I showed up on set I was just dumbstruck. I felt like I was a little kid again.
I got to step into the Turtle Lair, which was so cool. Definitely, the coolest set I’ve ever been on in my entire life. I really feel like they should make it into an amusement park or something. It’s so beautifully done. I never wanted to leave. They had to be like ‘Brittany go home.’ (laughs). I don’t think they can really do it justice when people watch it on-screen. Being able to step into that world and play in that world as part of that universe was a total dream come true.”
Are there any similarities between you and Karai?
“I deeply relate to Karai’s sense of loyalty. Her sense of family, and how she always puts that first. For me, that’s the most important thing in the world. I am not as great of a ninja warrior as she is, but I am skilled in Taekwondo. I have my black belt, but I’m definitely not deadly. (laughs).”
Was it hard to act opposite characters who would be CGI’d in later?
“You know, it was a challenge. I kept looking at the wrong place, because people would be in place but they had this foamy golf ball thing where their face was supposed to be and it was just natural instinct to talk to the person and look them in the eye. You had to keep adjusting yourself to this character who’s twelve feet tall. That changes the eye line a little bit. But it’s pretty fun. It’s a whole other layer of working that was definitely a challenge, but also a thrill.”
Just looking at the cast, it seems like it would be a fun environment. Was it that way?
“It was a lot of fun. I worked primarily with all the villains, there are so many amazing villains in this movie. Brian Tee is an amazing Shredder, and we obviously recruit Bebop and Rocksteady. Gary Anthony Williams and Stephen Farrelly are so amazing together, and so funny as human beings, and the producers would let the cameras roll and let them improv. The stuff they come up with! I think a lot of it made it into the movie. It was really hard, especially as Karai who is such a straight-faced soldier, it was really hard not to break.”
Oh, I can imagine.
“They’re all like the nicest people. For villains, we were a pretty sweet bunch.”
Were you a fan of Stephen Amell before working on Turtles?
“Who isn’t a fan of Stephen Amell? (laughs). I remember going through Arrow and hearing from Greg Berlanti and hearing the stories about how dedicated he is to his training and how he wants to do all the stunts himself. I just remember being blown away. How can a human being do all of that? It was amazing to me. Plus his work ethic and being a family man, it’s really inspiring.”
I feel the same way. I love all the pictures he posts of his daughter!
“It’s so sweet! They’re the perfect little family.”
Your costume looks amazing. Was it comfortable or not so much?
“Comfortable would not be the first word I’d use to describe my costume. (laughs). But it definitely helped me become Karai. I had no choice. The second I got into that thing it was like ‘Alright, this is who I am today.’ The costumes are pretty amazing. I went and got the whole 3D body imaging so they could actually mold and cut everything specifically to fit my body. And underneath all of that really cool armor, since we were working in New York City in the summer and it was so hot and so humid, we had these really cool, literally, cooling suits. I guess the technology came from NASA, it’s what the astronauts wear. When everyone started making these big budget, blockbuster, superhero movies they had these crazy costumes and the actors were passing out cause it was so hot. I don’t know if you’ve seen them, they are basically like Under Armour, but they have really thin piping going up and down them. You plug yourself
I went and got the whole 3D body imaging so they could actually mold and cut everything specifically to fit my body. Underneath all of that really cool armor, since we were working in New York City in the summer and it was so hot and so humid, we had these really cool, literally, cooling suits. I guess the technology came from NASA, it’s what the astronauts wear. When everyone started making these big budget, blockbuster, superhero movies they had these crazy costumes and the actors were passing out cause it was so hot. I don’t know if you’ve seen them, they are basically like Under Armour, but they have really thin piping going up and down them. You plug yourself
When everyone started making these big budget, blockbuster, superhero movies they had these crazy costumes and the actors were passing out cause it was so hot. I don’t know if you’ve seen them, they are basically like Under Armour, but they have really thin piping going up and down them. You plug yourself in in between takes and it shoots this really cold water through and your body temperature just drops like 15 degrees just like that.
It ‘s kind of shocking but it’s also it feels really good. (laughs). That was a pretty cool element of the costume and it also made me feel even more like a badass. After I get plugged in, I was like ‘Okay, I’m ready to go again!'”
I’ve recently become a big fan of Brian Tee. I know you talked about him a little bit earlier, would you expand a bit more about Brian?”
“Brian Tee is the most generous, kind, talented person you will ever meet. He is so humble. He’s so funny. His wife had just had a baby while we were filming the movie. It was really cool to see Shredder on camera, with the helmet and everything. And then in between takes he’s cooing over his little baby girl. (laughs). It was such a fun juxtaposition. A person who really cares about the craft and his fellow actors and human kind in general.
He’s a big thinker. He’s the most positive person you will ever encounter. His wife Mirelly is also a very talented actor. So their daughter is gonna grow to be a queen. Or something else really noble. They live such beautiful, positive, inspirational lives. That’s just an amazing, beautiful world for her to grow up in. They are just the sweetest people.”
Without giving anything away, is there something specific in the movie that you look forward to the fans seeing?
“The action sequences in this film I think are gonna blow people away! There are some really, really great fights. There is one particularly great action sequence in the middle of the movie. I’m excited to see it all play out on the big screen. I’m just excited to see fans reactions to this movie. It’s a really fun movie. We all had a lot of fun making it. I’m excited to see how fans react to seeing the turtles again and watching them battle all these crazy new villains.
It’s gonna be a lot of fun. I can’t wait. I’m wondering if my son is too young to see it. It comes out on his birthday, so he will be exactly two. I don’t know if that’s too young to see a movie like this. (laughs). He’d probably be terrified, and saying, ‘Mommy, what’s happening?’ He does recognize the turtles. We’ll drive around town and he’ll see the billboards and say, ‘Mommy, turtles!’ I’ll respond, ‘Yep that’s Leonardo, I’m training you well.'”
What’s your favorite part of being an actor?
“Ohh, wow. That’s a really hard question. I have so many favorite things. Probably getting into the mind and heart of a character. One of the things I really nerd out about is research. I can do that all day long. Like 47 hours a day. I will read everything.
I love when I discover a new character because I want to know everything about them. I want to know not just what their favorite color is, but why? And the things that move them. And if they were a color, which one would they be? What foods would they eat? I want to know everything about them. It’s kind of like making a new friend. I think that is my favorite thing about being an actor, is really being able to dive into those worlds and find out all that information.”
Where is the best place you’ve traveled to, and where do you wish to go most?
“I will always have a soft spot in my heart for the islands of Hawaii. I spent a lot of my childhood there. My husband proposed there. We got married there. They’re a magical place for me. Especially the big island of Hawaii. It feels like a very spiritual grounding place. As soon as I get off the plane and feel those trade winds, I feel at home. That being said, there are so many places I would love to travel to. I’ve actually never been to Japan, which is crazy. There is a part of me that feels like I need to take that trip and when I do it will be like ‘Oh! I understand so much of myself, and my people, and where I come from.’ It’s ridiculous that I have not been to Japan. That is definitely next on my travel itinerary, for sure.”
You touched on this briefly, but because our website is called Talk Nerdy With Us, we like to ask what makes you nerdy?
“Oh geez. Well, that research thing again. When I get really passionate about a subject, or something catches my eye on Twitter, all of a sudden it’s like 2 in the morning and I don’t know where the day went. I go into this rabbit hole and try to find as much information as I can. It’s actually really bad because I also love writing everything out on paper, instead of typing it.
There is something so satisfying about having journals and books and paper everywhere. I’m trying to do this whole magic of tidying up things and I’m on that topic now of documents and getting rid of all your paper. And I’m like ‘I can’t!’ I think that is probably one of the nerdiest things about me. That and label making. I will label everything. (laughs).”
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows comes out in theaters on June 3rd!