How Ben Schwartz Changed His Approach To Voicing Sonic The Hedgehog In The Sequel

How Ben Schwartz Changed His Approach To Voicing Sonic The Hedgehog In The Sequel
Image: Paramount

Out of all the video game to screen adaptations we’ve had over the years, who would’ve thought Sonic the Hedgehog would be one of the best. The movie had such an impact that Paramount went ahead and greenlit a third movie and a spin-off featuring Knuckles the Echidna all before Sonic the Hedgehog 2 had even been released.

The good news is that the sequel (which releases today in Australia) is just as good, if not better, than the original.

How do we know this? Well, Kotaku Australia sat down for a speedy interview with the voice of Sonic the Hedgehog himself, Ben Schwartz.

When we, eventually, catch up with Sonic in the sequel he’s running on the high of being a hero, having banished Dr Robotnik (Jim Carrey) to the mushroom realm. Sonic has since taken it upon himself to fight the city’s crimes, but it isn’t long until his real nemesis makes a comeback.

Schwartz said he wanted to change things up when it came to his voice performance in Sonic 2.

“I did the whole performance on my head in a handstand, so every line I say is literally upside down,” Schwartz joked.

All jokes aside, it was Sonic’s new mentality that altered Schwartz’s approach to the character in the sequel.

“I saw him at the beginning of the first one as like this energetic kid that’s never really had anyone to talk to,” Schwartz said.

“For this one, he’s rebelling against his parents, he thinks he can do everything by himself because he defeated Robotnik by himself, and so I liked the idea of playing him a little bit cool, but always leading with his heart.”

“I tried to play him that he was being a little bit rebellious and then it takes him the movie to realise it’s ok to ask for help, it’s ok to have friends.”

sonic the hedgehog 2
Image: Paramount

Some of the friends he encounters in Sonic the Hedgehog 2 are characters that fans of the games will be very familiar with.

The aforementioned Knuckles makes an appearance in this movie and is voiced perfectly by Idris Elba. Despite working on the same movie, Schwartz is yet to meet Elba, but was full of praise for his performance.

“I don’t know how much voiceover [Idris] has done, but it’s not an easy thing and he did such a great job,” he said.

One performer Schwartz did closely work with on Sonic the Hedgehog 2 was Colleen O’Shaughnessey, who has been the voice actor behind Sonic’s sidekick Tails in all major media since 2014.

“Colleen and I have so many scenes where we’re together working towards the same goal, oftentimes against Knuckles,” Schwartz told Kotaku Australia. “We did one or two sessions over zoom so that we could play with each other voice overwise and when I improvise she could play with me.”

“She’s amazing in it,” he said. “She’s a voice-over pro, she can handle anything. She’s been doing this for a very long time at a very high level.”

sonic the hedgehog 2 movie
Image: Paramount

Knuckles and Tails may be the main newcomers in this movie but with Sonic the Hedgehog 3 on the way the world is opening up for even more classic characters to make their way into the Sonic cinematic universe.

“There’s so many characters from the games that I’d love to see,” Schwartz said.

“I think what we did with this one is show the audience that we care about the world of the video games by introducing Tails and Knuckles. And my hope is that we keep building upon that.”

“I hope that we keep going along with what we did in this movie and we’re going to keep surprising people and bringing in characters in a way that, if you’ve never seen them before you can still be excited, but if you know about them you’re like ‘ohhh’ [claps hands together in excitement].”

sonic the hedgehog 2 movie
Image: Paramount

Speaking of expanding, Sonic video games are set to grow even bigger in 2022 with the release of the first open-world instalment in the franchise, Sonic Frontiers.

As the voice of Sonic, Schwartz is no stranger to Sonic games (Sonic 2 is his personal favourite). But the actor said he had some concerns about Sonic Frontiers.

“It’s a very dangerous thing for that game to come out right now for me,” he said.

“Any game that takes more than 50 hours to beat, I have to stop. I used to play a lot of role-playing games like Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy 3. I even just beat Hollow Knight which took forever to beat.”

“I like beating things 100%, so I’m very nervous to start [Frontiers].”

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is exclusive to cinemas now.

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