Go behind the scenes of the video game turned live action film with an exclusive Sonic the Hedgehog Interview. Watch Jim Carrey, James Marsden and Ben Schwartz get grilled by kid interviewers! This post is sponsored by Paramount Pictures. All lightning fast opinions are my own. #SonicMovie
Sonic the Hedgehog Interview | Jim Carrey, James Marsden & Ben Schwartz Get Grilled By Kids
Interview photos by Rachel Murray/Getty Images for Paramount Pictures
Palms sweaty, mind racing (ironic given the circumstances), and silently freaking out that I’m about to meet the comedic legend that is Jim Carrey. You know, just a normal day. Still trying to wrap my brain around being in the presence of one of the most influential genius actors of my time, I suddenly snap back to reality as claps and screams fill the room. It’s time. Then out of nowhere a bellowing voice,
“I SMELL CHILDREN!!! They smell new.”
And just like that, Jim Carrey has entered the building. Resetting the whole feel of the interview, I found myself instantly laughing and relaxing. Yup, this was going to be unlike any other interview I’ve sat in.
This Sonic the Hedgehog Interview with Jim Carrey, James Marsden, Ben Schwartz, Director Jeff Fowler and Producer Toby Ascher was a dream come true. Gone too fast (all of the Sonic puns, folks), lingering words of hope still etched in my brain, there were so many moments that truly emphasized how important a film like Sonic the Hedgehog is going to be – for past generations, for the now generation, and for generations to come. More than just the sarcasm, the delirium of too many interviews, the fart jokes, or the contagious laughter in the air to break up the tension, I’ll never forget the passion, the eloquence, the intelligence, the dedication nor the humbleness of these filmmakers who sat before me.
But if this interview couldn’t get more fun, we let the kids ask the questions with priceless gems like, “Why is Dr. Robotnik so angry?“
Sit down for a hilarious, brutally honest and heartfelt Sonic the Hedgehog interview that leave you laughing, crying and running to see Sonic the Hedgehog movie, in theaters on February 14, 2020.
Watch Sonic the Hedgehog Interview Video
From the moment Jim Carrey stepped into the room through the kids getting handed the microphones, every second of this Sonic the Hedgehog interview was filled with laughter. Watch the full Sonic the Hedgehog interview via the video above to join in the fun!
From Gamer to Test Run to Dream Job
Ben Schwartz embodies Sonic in every possible aspect. Young, joyful, full of energy and talking a mile a minute, he shares how playing the voice of Sonic the Hedgehog is fulfilling all of his childhood dreams.
I played the game when I was a kid. I played one and two on the Genesis and then I played Game Gear until the batteries ran out. I kinda got the role of Sonic as a test. Jeff Fowler and Tim Miller came to me and they said – hey, we’re going to do a little test just to see if we can sell it to studios. Luckily, they liked my performance enough to keep me. So when I found out that I was going to be the voice, it was a huge deal because I played that game for so long and I loved it so much.
Love at First Sandbag?
If anyone had the short end of the stick, it had to be James Marsden. Performing without Sonic at his side during production, he had to get well,…creative. A bromance? Or just love at first sandbag?
It was a blue sandbag that I would hold when I had to hold Sonic. So it looked like I was holding something with weight. It was a little crudely made stuffed animal.
Most of the time it was a tripod with a little piece of tape because obviously we couldn’t have the character there. The animators would [have to] create the character. So I was trying not to lose my mind and go crazy staring into middle distant space and talking to something that wasn’t there. But it was cool because I could use my imagination, sort of turn myself back into a kid again and bring myself into that world and just rely on the imagination.
Dr. Robotnik’s Origin Story
Can the bad guy be the hero? He is if he’s played by Jim Carrey. In what was a nonchalant “how do you get into your character” question, this brilliant actor goes deep, really deep to find his role as Dr. Robotnik.
You wouldn’t think much thought goes into it. But every character has to have an origin. For Robotnik, it’s not really that fleshed out in the game. So, I have to really think about where this guy comes from. It’s genius coupled with a complete feeling of worthlessness. Obviously, he wasn’t loved. He wasn’t loved properly. He didn’t get affection he needed. He turned against the world and wanted to punish the world for that.
I believe that characters are like lightning. They come from the ground up. It’s deceiving. You think it’s all on the outside. But it’s actually from the center of the earth. It’s that original belief about yourself. I think that this character is the absolute manifestation of pure ego with absolute abandonment. And it’s so much fun to play.
Challenges with Fandom Nostalgia
Sonic fans are hardcore. And Director Jeff Fowler admits that trying to please the fandom isn’t an easy task. Getting the right balance of nostalgia while appealing to new audiences, Fowler had to go back to filming basics.
Action is fun to design. Comedy, you bring funny people together and they do funny stuff. But really what makes movies like this really grand and be great is heart, emotion and relatability.
It’s a lot of fun that Sonic has super speed and he’s awesome and fast talking, but you want the audience to really be rooting for him on a deeper level, on an emotional level. Creating that relatability and that kind of connection for kids, parents and all ages to see a little bit of themselves in Sonic, and to be rooting for him for that reason, that really is what we worked hardest on.
The Sonic Design Fail
It takes a lot of courage to admit to the world “hey, we messed up.” When the first Sonic the Hedgehog trailer was released, the fans were livid about the design. LIVID. Jeff Fowler was quick to jump onto social media to respond to Sonic’s first look. Delaying the movie release and calling in backup, Jeff Fowler reflected on the process of going back to the drawing board.
Message received. You gotta respect the fans. They’re the reason that we had the opportunity to make this movie. They love Sonic for almost 30 years. You gotta listen to that. We were so excited about the story we had to tell, [had] so much fun making the movie. We just really wanted the audience and the core fans to be on board in a big way. If that meant going back to the drawing board a little bit with Sonic, then we were happy to do it. And we could not be more excited about where we landed.
Kid Interviewers Grill the Sonic the Hedgehog Actors
My favorite part of the Sonic the Hedgehog interview easily had to be when the kids took the microphones. Off the cuff, brutally honest and full of innocence, the kids had the opportunity to really grill Ben Schwartz, James Marsden and Jim Carrey. But while the questions were amazing, the answers are priceless.
Did you get to improvise?
Ben Schwartz: When we were doing my lines as Sonic, we would do it as is. And then we would always have room to play and improvise. Jeff is one of those great creators [who] wants to collaborate and wants the best for the movie. So we were able to do a lot of different versions, a lot of different jokes, a lot of different things. Then whatever the best was for the moment, we kept in there.
Jim Carrey: Jeff told me that the script was written in stone. [laughter] I was not allowed to create for this movie. No, of course. You get a little bit of this and a little bit of that. To me, I read the script. I love the script. I learn the script. And then the writer inside my brain starts working, and then I start dreaming. Then over breakfast something happens. And by the time I get to the set I have 10 or 15 ideas I want to try. The memory of the script goes out the window temporarily. Then it’s a matter of maybe 3 of the ideas I came up with getting in the film. Or something like that. The rest are tacked up on poles and on people’s foreheads so that I don’t have to use my memory. Then I glance around and catch something, it happens. Then there’s the stuff on the set, when you’re really in it, when you’re really having fun, when you really understand your character, things grow. Things pop out. It’s like popcorn, it’s wonderful popcorn.
What do you want kids to learn from this movie?
James Marsden: I want kids to watch this movie and have a great time, understanding the importance of accepting people, things, animals, anything that may be different from you. Finding friendships in maybe unlikely places, and the importance of connection and the importance of friendship.
Why is Dr. Robotnik so angry?
Jim Carrey: Because he’s very, very lonely in his heart. He tried to make himself happy by owning everything and building something that no one else could build. And he focused on that. And he lost that little part of himself that is Sonic. And Sonic is the absolute example of pure kid-like, pure innocent electric play energy that Robotnik doesn’t have and can’t hold. I say there’s a lot of people out there with a Sonic shaped hole in their heart.
Why does Dr. Robotnik want to steal Sonic’s powers?
Jim Carrey: Because Sonic is special. Sonic has a divine spark. Sonic looks at the world like play. And Robotnik can’t do that. He’s so concerned with what people think of him and making a mark that can never be erased in the world. And it’s what people get caught up in sometimes. The real magic in life is to hang onto that kid in you.
Why did you want to play your character?
Ben Schwartz: I played this game as a kid. Imagine the thing you loved the most growing up and someone’s like do you want to play that now? And it’s like oh my goodness, that’s an option? For me, that’s how I was introduced into creativity, art and really loving comedy. How lucky am I that I could possibly be someone’s entryway into what Sonic is? A child may not have seen Sonic before, and the voice I give may connect with them in a way that made me as excited to watch cartoons or play video games. I was so excited that I was able to be a part of a legacy what is this character.
James Marsden: I wanted to do because I wanted to be Sonic’s best friend. That’s it. #1 best friend of Sonic, right here.
Jim Carrey: I wanted to do it because we’re watching all these machines and robots and stuff come to life in our lives. Some of us are worried about it. So there’s all of these things happening that are happening so fast. For me this character is a way to take whatever fears we may have and turn it into something funny and fun, and deal with those things.
What advice do you have for kids who want to get into acting?
Jim Carrey: I would just say, your dreams are real things. If you couple your dreams, no matter how amazing they are, with a lot of hard work and effort, and you keep trying to chug them toward them, and make yourself believe they could happen, amazing things happen. That’s all I can say. Believe in miracles.
Sonic the Hedgehog Interview | Final Thoughts
Hits you right in the heart. Meeting Jim Carrey and being in his presence for an interview like this, it was an experience that I will never forget. Intelligent, eloquent, hilarious and so patient with the kids, he was so much more human and humble than I could have ever imagined. They all were.
I walk away with this Sonic the Hedgehog interview blown away by the quick wit and bolts of lightning of these talented men. It takes courage to make a movie like this, built on a foundation of fandom that couldn’t possibly be fully comprehended. No matter what the box office says, I appreciate the courage of people willing to fail, own their mistakes, and try again to make them right. And in a fast paced “Sonic” world, slowing down can be worth the wait.
Sonic the Hedgehog movie races into theaters on Friday February 14, 2020. Will you be taking your kids to see this film?
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I was invited on an exclusive press trip in exchange for this Sonic the Hedgehog Interview post. Be sure to follow Raising Whasians for more movie updates, celebrity interviews, entertainment and behind-the-scenes info!