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Interview: Lee Majdoub Talks ‘Sonic the Hedgehog,’ His Favorite Video Games, and ‘Animal Crossing’

May 15, 2020Ben MK

Video game adaptations may not have earned themselves the best reputation in Hollywood, but when it comes to proving the naysayers wrong, Sonic the Hedgehog has certainly helped to point the genre in the right direction. Now, after a number one showing at the box office earlier this year, everybody's favorite lightning-fast blue hedgehog (voiced by Ben Schwartz) and his arch-nemesis Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey) are heading home to battle it out on 4K, Blu-ray and DVD — and who better to give us the scoop on the film than Dr. Robotnik's right-hand man, Agent Stone (Lee Majdoub).

I caught up with Lee Majdoub to chat about all things Sonic the Hedgehog, from what it was like sharing the screen with Jim Carrey and what moviegoers might be able to expect from a sequel, to Twitch streaming, his favorite video games and, of course, Animal Crossing.

First of all, how have you been adjusting to the new normal and how have you been keeping busy during this quarantine?

Majdoub: I think good, for the most part. Obviously, there's the downs that come with it — missing the socializing with friends and stuff — but the positive has been that it's really helped me take some me time, which I think I really need. I don't think I give myself enough downtime. And then as far as keeping myself busy, I started Twitch streaming video games, which was very new to me. I've always loved playing video games, but someone suggested it might be a great way to keep interacting with fans and the fan base — especially the Sonic fan base. I've played some Sonic games online, chatted with some fans, and talked about mental health and how everybody's coping.

I was actually going to ask you about your Twitch channel, but you beat me to it. Are you a big gamer, in general? If so, what have you been playing and what are some of your favorite games of all time?

Majdoub: I used to play video games a lot, and then I stopped for a while cuz the negative voice in my head was like, "You're wasting time, you could be more productive!" [laughs] And then I got back into it now with streaming and Twitch and stuff, so it's been nice. As far as streaming's concerned, I've gone back and started playing Shadow of the Colossus — which is a beautiful game — and Sonic Mania [and] Team Sonic Racing. Then as far as video games for myself, I just beat God of War and The Last of Us. And one of my favorite games of all time is The Witcher 3.

Of course, Sonic is one of those beloved video game characters that have withstood the test of time. What do you think makes him so endearing?

Majdoub: Within the video game, I think [it's] definitely his personality. There was something cool about being able to play a character that was so fast, and I, particularly as a kid, loved doing the spins — just button-mashing and having him spin and break things. Then throughout the years, I think it's just that you identify with the underdog and a character that has a little bit of a chip on his shoulder. And then in the movie, specifically, what was so beautiful about Sonic was just that he's this fish out of water. All he wants is his friends, and I think a lot of us, whether [it's] when we were kids or into our adulthood, can really identify with sometimes feeling unheard or feeling lonely. It was really sweet to see that in the movie.

Aside from Sonic, most of the other characters in the film aren't original from the games — with the exception of Dr. Robotnik. What was it like acting opposite fellow Canadian Jim Carrey?

Majdoub: Wow. Wow. Man, it was unbelievable. I grew up [watching] Jim Carrey. He was one of my heroes. And to have the opportunity to work with him — he's so generous, he's got a big heart, he's a hard worker. The movie was very, very important to him and the character was important to him. He's very detail-oriented and so willing to come up with these amazing ideas.

Like the relationship between Stone and Robotik that was in the script wasn't what you ended up seeing in the movie. It was [one] of those typical right-hand man type of characters — very straight to the point, not much humor, not much personality. And then Jim had this idea — Robotnik hates human beings, he loves robots and technology, so there's gotta be a reason why he keeps Agent Stone around. And then we came up with this idea that Stone has this admiration for Robotnik. Only someone that admires someone would put themselves through that much abuse with an egomaniac like that. Also, Stone gets the opportunity to judge Robotnik a little bit. It was so fun.

Were there any scenes that were especially memorable or enjoyable for you to film?

Majdoub: That's a really hard question for me to answer, because any scene I got to do was with Jim. To be able to work with him day in and day out, I think the whole experience was memorable. The whole team was super giving — very big-hearted, and [they] all loved the Sonic game. A lot of the crew and Jeff and the writers and producers grew up playing the game as well.

But if I had to pick one, it would be the scene where Robotnik's dancing and then Agent Stone pops up from behind and says, "I thought you might like a latte with steamed Austrian goat milk." Specifically because that scene was a major team-up with me and Jim to come up with ideas, and then Jim asking me for my thoughts and stuff. It was so cool to just feel like I was part of a team and that my perspective mattered.

Your character has also gained quite an online following, and the odds of a Sonic the Hedgehog sequel happening seem favorable. Do you think we'll get to see more of Agent Stone in the followup?

Majdoub: I really hope so. And not just as an actor who would go back on a set that amazing and work with Jim again. But I think, just in general, it'd be nice to see where the character can go. Does he start looking for Robotnik? What's the relationship like? Because Robotnik's gone through some changes as well, as we see at the end of the movie. I'd actually like to see Stone have a moment where he rescues Robotnik, kind of like a damsel-in-distress moment.

It's also been awesome. The fans have been amazing to me. It was something I didn't expect, coming out of this movie. I didn't think that Agent Stone would be as popular as he is and have as much of a following. The fans have been so positive and so loving. It's been really nice to be a part of.

Going back to video games for a moment — of course, one of the biggest new releases these days is Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Might you be playing that one anytime soon?

Majdoub: I've been trying to stay away from it. [laughs] Just because I've been hearing so much about it from friends. They're talking about turnip prices and investing in turnips. And I'm like, "I don't know if I can get into this. This might take over my life." [laughs] But I think I will probably start playing it at some point. I'm holding off as much as possible. But it looks lovely, and I know a lot of people are really, really enjoying it, and it's helping them through quarantine and everything.

Last but not least, what are you working on next once the quarantine is over and, on a more personal level, what are you looking forward to the most, in terms of things returning somewhat to normal?

Majdoub: I'm really looking forward to giving a couple of friends a really big hug. I've got some really good friends [whom] I haven't seen in a while. We've done a few WhatsApp video calls or Zoom chats and stuff, but it's different without being in the same space together. I miss the coffees and the lunch or dinner meetups. A lot of the great talks come from our coffees together. So I would love to do that.

I'm also looking forward to going back to the gym. I don't know how that's gonna look like, and I don't know what the rules are gonna be with regards to that, but the gym is a really good place for me to re-center. I've been trying to do [workouts] at home, and it's a little bit different. I'm getting more efficient, but for the first few weeks it [would be] five minutes in and my brain was like, "Yeah, you're done." [laughs]

And then, hopefully, work starts up sooner than later. It's not in our control for a lot of this stuff, so I'm just keeping the faith and breathing through it, and then letting the universe dictate what's gonna happen.

Sonic the Hedgehog is available now on Digital HD and on 4K, Blu-ray & DVD May 19th.

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