Ben Schwartz gave ‘the quickest “yes” in the universe’ to be the voice of Sonic the Hedgehog

Ben Schwartz gave ‘the quickest “yes” in the universe’ to be the voice of Sonic the Hedgehog
The comedian grew up playing the Sonic video games on SEGA Genesis with friends from Public School 24 in the Bronx during the early 1990s, so it was a dream come true when the chance to star in the upcoming “Sonic the Hedgehog” flick presented itself.

“We would play ‘Sonic.’ We would play ‘Sonic 2.’ I remember the thing that made it so exciting is that you could play a board at a certain speed, and then you could play the same board trying to go as fast as you can, and you could have a totally different experience. ... I have incredibly fond memories of it.”

Fast-forward to present day, and Schwartz is still making fond memories with the rapid-running Sonic.

The actor, who played Jean-Ralphio on “Parks and Recreation,” initially became attached to the new film when director Jeff Fowler and producer Tim Miller asked him to lend his voice to Sonic in a test reading as they pitched the movie to studios.

“It was the quickest ‘yes’ in the universe,” Schwartz said. “Then I got lucky enough that they loved my voice so much that I guess it didn’t matter that there were probably more famous people out there that wanted to play the role. They just liked my performance so much that they let me keep doing it.”

“Sonic the Hedgehog,” which zooms into theaters Thursday night, centers on the title character arriving on Earth from a faraway planet and attempting to evade the evil Dr. Robotnik, played by Jim Carrey, who wishes to capture the spunky blue hedgehog and use his unmatched powers to dominate the planet.

The movie features a live-action cast other than Sonic, who was created using computer animation. The film’s release was pushed back a few months after Fowler opted to redesign Sonic’s appearance, including teeth that some viewers deemed humanlike, following feedback from fans.

The eagerness for excellence from the fan base left Schwartz feeling excited.

“I love this character,” Schwartz told The News. “I hope people cared. Then the trailer came out, and you saw that there were millions of people that cared. This fan base, which is so passionate, came out and really showed itself and showed how much they care about this thing. ... So it just made me want to make them really proud.”

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Schwartz says Sonic’s attitude and speed always stuck out to him in the games, and after the actor read the movie’s script, he found other attributes he wanted to bring to the character, too.

“It’s like this little kid that’s filled with energy and positivity and wants to get out and just, like, do everything he couldn’t do for all these years,” Schwartz said. “It’s like, ‘I want to live life for the first time and not be in the shadows.’ It’s this great story of an outsider ... that finally gets to live his life.”
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