'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' is the hottest animated show on television, Ninja Turtles action figures are flooding toy store shelves and there's even a live action movie on the way. No, you haven't travelled back in time to 1989 — Nickelodeon has rebooted the franchise for a new audience, and Supanova guest Greg Cipes has played a big part in its success.
“‘To play Mikey is the greatest responsibility and gift that I've ever received,” says the voice actor, who plays Michelangelo in the critically acclaimed new show. “Mikey has had so much to do with who I was, and who I am, from the time I was a kid... [the Turtles] taught me how to meditate, and they got me into martial arts, surfing, and skateboarding. Even my love of animals came from watching the Turtles! They made me look at animals differently, like, 'whoa, maybe they're more like us than we thought'.”
In fact, the only major difference between Michelangelo and Greg — aside from the fact that one of them is a mutated turtle — is that Greg is a vegan. But he still shares Mikey's love of pizza.
“In LA, there are multiple pizza options [for vegans],” he explains. “Organic pizzas that are so good; restaurants like Cafe Gratitude, restaurants like Planet Raw, we have a lot of options in LA. And once you learn what a raw pizza is, you can make it yourself at home! It's really easy. It's way quicker than a cooked pizza, and it tastes better, and it makes you healthy. My favourite ingredient is actually Mikey's favourite ingredient, which is algae.”
Algae? On a pizza? “We're taking the opportunity to teach kids that eating green things is not a bad thing to do,” Greg says. “It's actually good for you. It's natural for a turtle to eat algae, and it's actually natural for us to eat this algae, because it's so, so good for you. The nutrients and vitamins and minerals in blue green algae, it's called spirulina, and this spirulina contains all the vitamins and minerals that are not in the food that kids and most people are eating.
“Cereal that says it has vitamins in it? It doesn't have vitamins. The soil that food is grown in — apples, bananas, grapes, avocados, everything — there's no minerals in the soil anymore, so you have to find it somewhere. Blue green algae has the minerals. So it's cool, and maybe kids will try it, because Mikey loves algae!”
Cipes has lended his voice to characters in 'Ben 10', 'Teen Titans' and 'Ultimate Spider-Man', and appeared on-screen in shows like 'Gilmore Girls', 'Deadwood', 'House', 'Without A Trace', 'Cold Case' and 'CSI Miami'. But in many ways, his portrayal of Michelangelo has been his breakthrough role. It's a just reward for his dedication to the character.
“I've also developed a really cool relationship with Kevin Eastman, the original creator of the series,” Cipes beams. “He was just in my living room yesterday, having tea, kicking back and listening to music. That's so cool, because that's the dude who created a show that really affected me and made me who I am today!”
Greg Cipes appears at Supanova at the Gold Coast Convention & Exhibition Centre from April 19-21.