Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' Original April O'Neil Reveals Why She Wasn't In The Sequel

While actress Judith Hoag was the first actress to bring intrepid reporter April O'Neil to life, starring in 1990's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles from director Steve Barron, her tenure as the character was rather short-lived. Not only was she replaced by Paige Turco in both Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III, but the brand has since moved even far beyond those movies with the animated TMNT (featuring Sarah Michelle Geller as the voice of April), and, most recently, Jonathan Liebesman's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles starring Megan Fox. While Hollywood has certainly moved on, Hoag remains one of the franchise's biggest mysteries. Why did she not come back as April O'Neil in the live-action Turtles movies of the 90s? To hear the story from the actress' side, it was because producers weren't too happy about her regular notes.

With the reboot hitting the box office this past weekend, Variety sat down with Judith Hoag to get the skinny on exactly what happened on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles that led to her not being invited back for the sequel. The actress revealed to the trade that she was never even approached about the idea of reprising her role from the first movie, and she blames it on her own personal complaining - particularly about the six-day schedule and the amount of violence in the movie. Said Hoag,

"I thought the movie suffered because of that. It was something I spoke to the producers about, I think they thought I was too demanding, and moved on."

But those weren't the only issues encountered on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles set. The actress and the crew also had multiple issues with just the look of the character. Steve Barron wished to replicate April O'Neil's look from the cartoon- where she wore a yellow jumpsuit and a big head of red hair. The production was able to handle the creation of animatronic Turtle outfits, but this costume was apparently just too much to handle.

"They had this really horrifying white jumpsuit and dyed it yellow. It was nixed... I remember just hating my hair in the movie. They gave me this really horrible perm and it never cooperated."

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was one of the biggest roles in Hoag's early career, and while not coming back for the sequel certainly didn't help her career, she has gotten steady acting work on both film and television since, including starring on the country music-themed show Nashville. She also harbors no ill-will towards the franchise. She has watched the original with her kids, and even has plans to see the new one. "I will see it out of curiosity," Hoag said. "You want the franchise to keep going forward and do well."

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Eric Eisenberg is the Assistant Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. After graduating Boston University and earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism, he took a part-time job as a staff writer for CinemaBlend, and after six months was offered the opportunity to move to Los Angeles and take on a newly created West Coast Editor position. Over a decade later, he's continuing to advance his interests and expertise. In addition to conducting filmmaker interviews and contributing to the news and feature content of the site, Eric also oversees the Movie Reviews section, writes the the weekend box office report (published Sundays), and is the site's resident Stephen King expert. He has two King-related columns.