In the video-game-turned-movie franchise sequel Sonic the Hedgehog 2, the titular speedster squares off against a diabolical Canadian duo: Dr. Robotnik, played by Newmarket legend Jim Carrey, and his trusted sidekick Agent Stone, played by Vancouver’s very own Lee Majdoub.
While Stone was simply an accomplice to Robotnik in the first film, this time around, we see the character attempt to survive without his evil overlord. (He even gets his own movie poster!) Still, Majdoub says he enjoyed the moments of improv he and Carrey—in what might be his final acting role—were able to cook up, sometimes making it hard to stay in character.
The new film, in theatres now, follows Dr. Robotnik as he returns with a new partner, Knuckles (voiced by Idris Elba) to search for a mystical emerald that has the power to destroy civilizations. Sonic (voiced by Ben Schwartz) teams up with his own sidekick, Tails (voiced by Colleen O’Shaughnessey), and together they embark on a globe-trotting journey to find the emerald before it falls into the wrong hands.
We caught up with Lee to discuss his role, what it was like starring alongside Jim Carrey, and what the two Canadians bring to the table.
What was your earliest memory of the Sonic video game, and what appealed to you about it back then?
Sonic 2 was like the first video game that I played in the Sonic world. It was on the Genesis—that was my first console that I could call mine that was kind of current at the time. I just liked that you could go fast. I love the button mashing of having them spin in the same spot and going through the loops and collecting the rings. There’s a sassiness to Sonic that was always really interesting.
What is it about the world of Sonic that appeals to you now as an adult?
Yeah, the first game itself, as an adult, I think I just like look back on it, having fun memories as a kid as an adult now and looking at what we’ve done in the movies, and that character in the movies, I find it so easy to connect to Sonic because he’s looking for a place in this world. “Where do I belong?” He’s trying to figure himself out, he’s trying to do the best he can, he can’t quite figure out where his mistakes are. I think a lot of us can identify with that and they did such a great job from taking the first movie, where it’s like a fish out of water and now he’s a little bit older. He’s got the family, but he’s trying to figure out, “How do I fit out fit in the outside world? How do I be a hero?’” And just making a bunch of mistakes and trying to fix those mistakes.
“I think the joke’s been that a lot of people, they underestimate Canadians and what they’re capable of. So you got two Canadians, the villains, and we can bring it… Canada can bring it!”
What did you love about exploring Agent Stone in the sequel?
I mean, he’s extremely sad. He’s a little lonely. That was a fun thing to see and then how that relationship evolves with him and Robotnik. They still rely so much on each other, which is really cool. And then getting the opportunity to interact with characters outside of Robotnik and see how Agent Stone is around people that aren’t the doctor.
I think it’s so funny that this time around you actually see Stone missing Robotnik and sort of pining for him with those coffee designs. You got to explore a bit of your comedic side as well.
Yeah, yeah. So much fun. Like, I love that the creative team added the foam art of Robotnik and Stone’s faces together… that was so cute and so funny. I think took it an extra distance to show how much he actually does admire and miss the doctor. That was really cool. And getting to play with Jim again is so much fun.
Jim Carrey is a legend. What was it like working beside him while he’s doing what he does best as an entertainer and comedian?
It’s great. I mean, there’s not much more I can say besides you learn so much from how specific he is and how detail-oriented and how committed and also how generous and gracious and big-hearted he is. My experiences with him have been nothing but so special.
How did you manage to keep it together when you have Jim Carrey doing all that crazy stuff right beside you? Was there a scene where you guys just couldn’t keep it together and had to do multiple takes?
I think there were a bunch. There’s a moment where he grips my face. That was a tough one. That was a tough one for me to even just think about it. It was really hard to just keep a straight face and then you got to figure out like, ‘OK, can I change my eyeline? Can I not look directly at him while he’s doing this insanely incredible thing?’ Just being willing to play along… It’s so fun.
A lot of the abuse in the first film was improvised between you and Robotnik. This time around, was there room for improv?
Yeah, there definitely is room for improv. I think there’s always like little tweaks here and there. This one had more times than the first one, as we had it pretty locked in with the script, like the script had pretty solid ideas because now Stone was fleshed out and that relationship was fleshed out. But now there’s like little moments of, “What do you think of this? Oh, let me try this.” You know, when he takes a sip of the coffee, and he thinks twice about it, that wasn’t in the script, and that was kind of like him and I being like, “Oh, how can he respond to it and kind of disappoint Stone?” You know what I mean?
I didn’t put this together last time, but the two of you are Canadians! Did you realize that when you were filming?
Yeah. So we talked about being Canadian. I mean, just shooting it in Canada and being around a bunch of Canadians also. But what I did just realize today is that the two Canadians in this movie are a tag team. Sonic 2 with two Canadians as a tag team. Connect it how you will.
What Canadian qualities make you two stand out?
Well, I think the joke’s been that a lot of people, they underestimate Canadians and what they’re capable of. So you got two Canadians, the villains, and we can bring it… Canada can bring it!
If the next Sonic movie, hypothetically, was set in Canada, what places would you like to see explored on screen?
B.C. is so beautiful. I don’t think you can ever fully show too much of B.C. I think the East Coast, like the way East Coast would be very, very beautiful, just to show the cliffs and the water out there, which is different than on the West Coast. I think it’d be really cool to see.
What was it like filming in B.C.?
It’s fun. For me, the biggest thing was I get to stay home in a sense, right? It’s always easier to be able to sleep in your own bed, wake up in your bed, go to work. Also, working with the locals, the crew here is so incredible. Canada is always a good opportunity.
What would you like to see happen if the third movie were to be greenlit?
So, I selfishly would like to see Stone show more of why he’s an agent, like what he’s capable of in combat. To see a little bit more of that that tough edge to Stone.