Sonic the Hedgehog: James Marsden Talks Possible Sequel, Working With CGI, and Video Games
In case you weren’t already aware, Sonic the Hedgehog is now available to purchase on digital home video. The video game adaptation managed to take the top spot for U.S. box office for a video game adaptation before everything went a bit wonky thanks to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and it released earlier than expected on home video with a physical release still yet to come in May. As part of the release, ComicBook.com had a chance to speak with actor James Marsden, who stars in the movie as Tom Wachowski, Sonic’s cop (human) friend.
In addition to asking Marsden about what he’d like to see in a sequel and how it feels to earn that top spot for video game adaptations, Marsden spoke with us about working against a CGI character, working with Jim Carrey while doing that, video games in general, and whether he’d be game for reprising his role as Tom in a video game. And, uh, we also spoke about Hop, the 2011 Easter Bunny movie in which Marsden also starred.
Keep reading to check out our full interview with Sonic the Hedgehog star James Marsden!
Have you had a chance to catch the film on home video? Or did you manage to catch it in theaters? Let us know in the comments, or hit me up directly on Twitter at @rollinbishop to talk all things gaming!
Here’s how Paramount Pictures describes the film, if you’re somehow not familiar:
“Based on the global blockbuster videogame franchise from Sega, SONIC THE HEDGEHOG tells the story of the world’s speediest hedgehog as he embraces his new home on Earth. In this live-action adventure comedy, Sonic and his new best friend Tom (James Marsden) team up to defend the planet from the evil genius Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey) and his plans for world domination. The family-friendly film also stars Tika Sumpter and Ben Schwartz as the voice of Sonic.”
Sonic the Hedgehog is now available to purchase on digital with a physical Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD release set for May 19th. The film stars Ben Schwartz as the voice of the eponymous hedgehog, James Marsden as Tom Wachowski, a police officer that befriends Sonic, and Jim Carrey as Dr. Robotnik, the franchise’s classic villain and scientist. You can check out all of our previous coverage of the Sonic the Hedgehog movie here.
ComicBook.com: First off, Sonic the Hedgehog, top video game adaptation at the U.S. box office. Congrats.
James Marsden: Thank you.
How does it feel?
It feels great. It feels good, because this is what you’d always hoped for when you step foot into the project, and I thought we had a good script and a great cast and an excellent director and a good team. It was a rocky road getting through it. I think we liked the movie we were making, but it got the point where we needed to pay attention to what the fans wanted. I’m very proud and happy that we did it, and it paid off. I think we came out right at the right time before the world changed, and we were a nice dose of like, “Oh, I remember how movies can be fun and family movies can be just as entertaining as anything.” We got lucky, and also, on top of that, I feel like we just made a good product and I’m super proud of it.
Obviously Sonic the Hedgehog is not your first time playing against a CGI character — shout out to Hop. How does that experience compare?
Well, I didn’t make the same mistakes this time around, or at least I tried not to. And Hop worked. That was another movie that attempted to be not just your straight up cookie-cutter “guy talking to an animated character” movie. We brought in Russell Brand, who was like, “Let’s try to make this smart. Let’s make these jokes advanced. Let’s make them for kids, but let’s give the kids some credit. You don’t have to pander to them.” But ultimately that movie, I liked that movie, but it feels like Sonic was definitely a step forward. It was a little more advanced. It was a little skewed maybe a little bit older than Hop, and I just was used to all of the same stuff, which is, “Oh, OK. I know what triangulation of the eye is now.” When you look at something close up versus far away. […] So technical things I feel like I was better at this time around.
And then the animation of course is 10 years older and the technology is 10 years better. And so, yeah, I try to do no more than one “acting opposite an animated character” movie a decade. [laughs] Keep it at that. But it’s also nice to be a part of something like this that like just broke that record, and people loved it, and it was one of the last movies to do well before the world changed. And I could sit on a couch, and I’m not worried that my 7 year old is going to be seeing something that’s too adult for him, but my 19 year old’s also going to be entertained. It’s a win all around.
Now you speak about working against the CGI character. Did you have to work much with the Sonic stand-in puppet?
I did, yeah. So it was three different versions of my co-star on set, which was either a tennis ball attached to a tripod or a blue stuffed animal Sonic that was roughly the same size and dimensions as what our guy would be. And then there was a blue beanbag if I was ever carrying him, because it just sold the weight of me holding something that had weight to it. And that was kind of it. Other than that, I just had to use my imagination and would get Ben Schwartz on the phone whenever I had an idea for a scene or asked him how he was thinking about playing it. And we would kind of maybe run it in a scene if we were on the phone, and I would just sort of get the rhythms of it. And we’d do it 10 different ways, and then move on.
That had to be a pretty wild experience working against Jim Carrey while also having a blue beanbag there with you.
Yeah, it was. I mean that was… There were moments. I mean every actor knows that you just have those moments where you just like, “This is what I do for a living? This is insane.” And this was definitely a highlight of my career — I’m standing on set opposite Jim Carrey, and he’s shouting at me, and spit’s flying in my face, and I’m holding a beanbag that’s supposed to be a blue space hedgehog. [laughs] I’m just like, “This is what I signed up for. I’ve made it, I’ve made it.”
Now nothing’s been officially announced, but what would you personally want to see in a potential sequel to Sonic the Hedgehog?
Well I think we’d do a lot more of the same, but we would probably hopefully throw even more set pieces in there and more action sequences. I think we’d hopefully introduce some new characters, some beloved characters from the video game. If you stayed through the credits, you saw a little introduction to Tails. Hoping we’d see Tails come in. You know, who knows? The good thing is, is that hopefully when we come back to earth after this thing and we’re still making movies, that Paramount will really fire it up again, and we’ll just have double the fun.
Now talking about video games, I saw that you had mentioned in an interview that your favorite is GoldenEye, and obviously these are strange times. How are you spending your days? Are you playing any video games right now?
It’s so funny you asked that because yesterday… My son and I do a lot of car racing, car stuff together. […] We do gas go-karts and things like that, like race carts. So for me and my kids, I got a video game Playseat and a steering wheel with pedals and stuff to [use with] our big screen TV. And we’ve been racing each other playing Gran Turismo Sport. So that’s been our new thing is learning the race tracks around the world through simulation… Spending a lot of time with my kids doing that.
Now please correct me if I’m wrong here, but it seems like you’ve done some voice acting work in the past, but never for video games. Would you be up for reprising your role in a video game as Tom?
Oh yeah, I’ve always wanted to do that. Yeah. I’ve not ever done the video game voice thing. I mean, voiceover, just in general, is such a good gig. You roll out of bed and throw a baseball cap on and go into a sound booth, and just transform yourself back to your childhood and just be a goofball kid. And you don’t have to worry about what stupid faces you’re making, just having a good time. So yeah, I would love to do that. I think it’s definitely where we’re going. I mean just take the emergence of movies and TV and media, mixed, and video games kind of coming together. So you’re fully like gaming immersion into storytelling. I think that’s kind of where we’re going. I just didn’t describe it properly. [laughs] I think basically we’re going to see a lot more gaming in the future. And I think there’s going to be a world where those two will overlap. Where your movies and TV world will overlap with gaming to have a fully immersive experience.
So I look forward to those new horizons and that sounds fun to go do voiceover work for a video game, especially as somebody who grew up in the video game era. I was a child of the Nintendo and Atari and the Nintendo 64 and Sega and all of that. So to see a script evolve to produce this cool thing and to be a part of it on top of it would be even extra special.
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