Sonic Interview: Ben Schwartz Hypes Hedgehogs, Game Gear and The Knicks

Ben Schwartz, the loveable star of Sonic The Hedgehog, chats with The Illuminerdi about his upcoming film and love of the Knicks.
Sonic Interview Ben Schwartz

Ben Schwartz is Sonic The Hedgehog, and we couldn’t ask for a better interpreter of the world’s most famous hedgehog. The film, which premieres on Valentine’s Day, benefits immeasurably from his talents as a voice actor. Which is why we just had to get into it with him about the casting process, not to mention where else we might hear him voice Sonic in the future.

In Sonic The Hedgehog, a small-town police officer named Tom (James Marsden) must help it defeat an evil genius called Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey) from experimenting on a precious alien hedgehog who goes by Sonic (Ben Schwartz). Also, Tom’s living the best life, because he’s married to Tika Sumpter. Just saying.


Ben Schwartz Talks Sonic The Hedgehog

Talk to me about when you heard about this role being offered to you. Your face must have lit up, because this is a classic character.

Ben Schwartz: It’s crazy, also, because the way that it was introduced was I had a meeting with Tim Miller. It sounds like you’re a like-minded person, like me, and he directed Deadpool, which is a movie that I really, really loved. And we had a meeting about a different project altogether. And at the end of the meeting, there’s a bunch of the Sonic dolls on Jeff Fowler’s desk, and he’s like, “Oh yeah, we’re going to a test for Sonic, and Jeff is gonna be the one that directs the movie.”

What the test was, was basically we filmed a five minute video to try to sell to a studio. So, it didn’t have a home yet. They said, “Would you do the voice for the test?” I think if I wasn’t there that day, I have no idea if I would have even been the one that they chose. But because I did Dewey Duck and Leonardo and all these fun characters in the past, they let me do the test. And then the test went so well that when, they were doing their search, they just kept coming back and they loved my voice so much they just kept me to be the guy.

When you when you heard that Jim Carrey was gonna finally come on board, what was that like?

Ben Schwartz: It was a dream come true. I mean, Dumb and Dumber? Top five movie of all time. The Mask, Ace Ventura, and then he’s able to do Eternal Sunshine and Truman Show. So, to me it’s so inspiring. Because you look at people like Robin Williams, who were able to do comedy and drama, and you look at Jim who can do the same thing. It’s remarkable. So, I was beyond inspired.

Will we get to hear your voice in possibly a future video game with Sonic?

Ben Schwartz: Oh, right now nobody’s talked to me about anything like that. So far the only thing that I know is that we did this movie, and if it does very well, I hope that they make another one. But now it’s all up to fans.

There’s so much more canon you could talk about.

Ben Schwartz: I think so. If you’re a fan of what this video game is, you know that there’s other characters involved. And also the idea of where Jim Carrey is now, in terms of what the evolution of Robotnik is: there’s a lot of playing that you can do with every character.

sonic the hedgehog still

This is one of the first games that you could actually take on the go with you. If people remember, the Genesis was at home, but then Game Gear came out.

Ben Schwartz: Oh, I had Game Gear. But can I say this? If you forgot the thing to charge it, it was six batteries or eight batteries[…] And I lost that plug day one. So I could only play Sonic 2, which was a lot of hang gliding. It was like two seconds, and then the things would go out. You’d be so impressed, because I Gameboy also, and I love Gameboy. [Game Gear] would die so quickly, and go I would go back to Tetris on Gameboy.

If we were to break Sonic into the real world right now, and put him on the New York Knicks…

Ben Schwartz: Oh, I love this! We’re doing great.

Would the Knicks make the playoffs?

Ben Schwartz: Well, first of all, we have to teach Sonic how to dribble.

I mean, they gotta beat the Miami Heat first.

Ben Schwartz: Miami Heat are playing very well. I mean, very well. And the new uniforms look incredible, regardless.

Sonic on the Knicks. Do they make the playoffs?

Ben Schwartz: I think yes. I’m a big of the Knicks. You can’t catch him; he’s too quick. You give him the ball anywhere. You give him the ball off a rebound on the other side, he’s gonna score.

I’d have him play all five positions, if I was you.

Ben Schwartz: That’s very nice of you. I think he would love it also.

M.O.D.O.K. and Space Force. What can you tell us?

Ben Schwartz: I can tell you that M.O.D.O.K. is a television show on Hulu. It’s an animated show voiced by Patton Oswald. There’s a supervillain called M.O.D.O.K., who is like a big giant floating head.

Do we know who you’re going to be yet?

Ben Schwartz: Yeah, I play his son. And the funny thing is I talked to Jordan, who’s the showrunner. I said, “Is there any way to make me blue? Because I’ve played a lot of blue characters in a row.” And he goes, “You’ll wear a blue shirt.” and I go, “Yeah.’ That’s coming out on Hulu. The cast is insane.

And then I have three comedy specials coming up on Netflix: Middleditch & Schwartz, longform improv specials. And then after that, we have a show called Space Force, which is Steve Carell, John Malkovich and me. Tawny Newsome and Diana Silvers; it’s an insane cast. And Greg Daniels wrote it, so I cannot wait for people to see it.

Check back to read The Illuminerdi’s review when the embargo lifts on February 12, and then watch Sonic The Hedgehog for yourself this weekend.