Sonic The Hedgehog’s Ben Schwartz Explains The Character Redesign And Benefit Of Backlash

Ben Schwartz as Sonic the Hedgehog in 2020 movie

(Image credit: (Paramount))

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After the last few weeks, the once disastrous ordeal of the Sonic the Hedgehog redesign is looking like one of the more adorable fiascos in Hollywood. It’s more-so a Rocky-esque training montage that has an uplifting energy to it considering how successful the movie ended up being. And Ben Schwartz, the voice of Sonic, has a positive attitude about the whole thing too.

Ben Schwartz recently stopped by CinemaBlend's ReelBlend podcast for a special bonus episode, where the actor hung out with the host for over an hour to talk about Sonic the Hedgehog, of course, as well as his roles in Star Wars, Parks and Recreation and The Simpsons. During the exclusive interview, Schwartz opened up about what happened with the original Sonic design that went viral, and resulted in the character’s look being changed and shifting the movie from November 2019 to February 2020. In his words:

The way that I saw it first I think was on the trailer. I had to do ADR for the actual trailer because up until then it was all very temp. But I believe the trailer had to be done very quickly or something like that. So the first time I saw it was then. And then when it came out and the reaction it got when it came out. First of all we didn’t know if anyone would care. We care because we like video games and movies it seems. But the biggest thing we learned from that was that when it came out so many people were so vocal and it became a huge thing. It got passed around so much. It may have not been the most positive reason why it was getting passed around, but it got passed around so much and so people had such heartfelt passionate ideas for it. That the biggest thing we learned was ‘Oh, people care a lot. Let’s look at this and figure it out.’

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As Ben Schwartz explains, he found the reaction to be a positive one because he thought of it as fans showing a real passion for the movie. In the first trailer for Sonic the Hedgehog, the Sega character had smaller eyes, human-looking teeth and long skinny legs that fans just couldn’t look away from. It became somewhat of a meme being passed around and laughed at. But on the flip side, fans also were voicing their concerns, with some artists even taking it upon themselves to fix things up.

Director Jeff Fowler listened to their concerns and announced Sonic the Hedgehog would go back into production in order to make things right. When asked about why the character design looked the way it did in the first place, here’s what Ben Schwartz told ReelBlend:

The big thing they were trying to do was how do you bring Sonic into the real world? Because he’s a computer character, you can’t just bring him in. How will he look in a real life situation? So I think that’s what they were tackling. But I will say the new version… when I was doing my voice the whole time I was doing it the way the new version looks. In my head, that’s the way it looked. So when I saw the first one I was like ok, but when I saw the second one I was like ‘This is in my head what the little guy looks like.’

Let’s hope we never see what Mickey Mouse or Spongebob would look in the “real world,” because yikes! But hey, Sonic’s not the only character that dealt with backlash over its CGI vision. So did Tom Hooper’s Cats – except in that case fans are campaigning for more nightmarish images to be a part of it.

Going back to Ben Schwartz, you can check out his full interview with ReelBlend right here:

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Sonic the Hedgehog opened back in February to a record-breaking $58 million opening and went on to make $306 million worldwide, becoming the highest-grossing video game movie domestically. If it had just a little more time in theaters, it might have beaten the worldwide record too. The movie is currently available to purchase on digital early following Paramount’s recent announcement to bring it to homes due to recent current events.

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.