SONIC THE HEDGEHOG Exclusive Interview With Star Lee Majdoub About Agent Stone And His Dream Superhero Role
We recently caught up with Sonic the Hedgehog star Lee Majdoub to discuss his breakout role as Dr. Robotnik's sidekick Agent Stone, while he also reveals which superhero he would love the chance to play...
Sonic the Hedgehog proved that the video game movie curse is officially dead as critics and fans alike loved it (you can read our review by clicking here). Throw in the fact that it was a box office hit, and it's fair to say that there's a lot of excitement surrounding the yet to be announced sequel.
After being made available EARLY on Digital platforms, the movie arrives on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, and DVD on May 19th, and to celebrate its release, we recently had the opportunity to catch up with star Lee Majdoub. He plays Agent Stone in Sonic the Hedgehog, and has been hailed as the breakout star (the character, meanwhile, has gained a devoted fan following online).
As the straight man to Jim Carrey's villainous Dr. Robotnik, Majdoub was responsible for many of the funniest exchanges in the film, and made a lasting impact after past memorable roles in TV shows like Supernatural, Zoo, and The 100.
In this interview, we delve into the Robotnik/Stone relationship, his experiences working with Carrey, and even hear a compelling argument for why he could be the Marvel Universe's next Wolverine!
It was great to talk to Lee about Sonic the Hedgehog, and we obviously want to extend a huge thank you to him for taking the time to do this interview happen with everything going on in the world right now. Agent Stone is clearly a role he's passionate about and, after reading this, we're pretty sure you'll also want to see him don those familiar claws...
Were you a fan of the Sonic the Hedgehog games before being cast and what did it mean for you as an actor to join such an iconic franchise?
Yeah, I actually did play Sonic on the SEGA Genesis when I was a kid. It was probably my favourite game growing up, and the SEGA Genesis was the first console I got to call my own. It was extremely surreal to get cast in the movie itself, and then when I found out Jim Carrey was playing Robotnik, and I was gonna be playing his right-hand man, it took it to the next level for me. I also grew up loving Ace Ventura, The Mask, and, well, all of Jim's stuff!
You're very much the straight man to Robotnik, but how do you keep a straight face when Jim Carrey is reeling off lines like the one about how Stone makes his lattes?
It was a challenge to keep a straight face at times, for sure. What was lovely about that set was that everybody was so positive, and having a good time was really welcomed. If we broke or laughed, you didn't feel like you were doing anything wrong, thank goodness! There were a few times, and the scene I remember was when Robotnik sticks the quill to his tongue and electrocutes himself...and then turns to me and offers it to me! I had such a tough time keeping a straight face, so I had to figure out ways to change my facial expression or not quite look at Jim in the eyes in order to get that scene done.
Did you get the opportunity to do much in the way of improv on set?
I did. Fortunately, working with Jim, improv comes with it. The looser he gets, and the more he's figuring out Robotnik, the more permission I had to feed off of whatever he was doing. That was really welcome, and it was amazing to be able to say, 'Oh my gosh, I'm getting to improvise with Jim Carrey, one of the greatest at it.' Some of the stuff didn't work with Agent Stone, but we got to flesh it out and have a lot of fun, nonetheless. Sometimes in the movie, you didn't get to see the improv, but then some of the improv does actually make it in there!
Did you find playing an original character without ties to the video game series freeing as there weren't any specific expectations from fans?
I think it was a little bit of both, to be honest. In the cartoons, he's got Orbot and Snively in certain versions, and when you're playing someone that already exists, you have a little bit of something to feed off. You go, 'Okay, this is what the character is like, so I can take some hints there.' With Agent Stone, there's also the element of freedom where there's nothing pre-established so you could do whatever works within the realm of the story after discussions with Jeff Fowler, who was our amazing director, and the writers and Jim. It was definitely fun not to be tied into anything and feed off Jim, for sure, and then what was on the page for us, was all you ended up seeing in the movie. Stone was, I wouldn't say last minute, but through the last few drafts, Stone was written in to give Jim someone to talk to. He was the straight man in the movie, but through discussions with Jim and Jeff and Toby [Ascher], our fantastic producer, we were able to flesh out the story a bit and figure out the relationships, and it turned into what you see now.
I feel like it's fair to say that you were the movie's breakout star, but were you surprised by the reaction fans have had to Agent Stone?
Yeah, I never ever imagined Agent Stone would have this much backing from the fans. Even before the movie came out, you'd see him once in a trailer, but people started to really stick by him. A lot of fans were like, 'We are Agent Stone, and he is us.' We've all had to work with that boss who doesn't appreciate you, and you get hired for one reason, but all they want you to do is make coffee! It was really surprising and it's still very surreal. There's a lot of engagement, and a lot of fan-art out there that I'm so appreciative of and it blows me away every time I see a new art piece come out.
It seemed Robotnik hated everyone other than Stone, and he even finds a new Agent Stone on the mushroom planet, so I was wondering what you think it is that makes your character different to everyone else in Robotnik's life?
[Laughs] You know what, to me, I think Stone sees something in Robotnik that no one else does. There's this utter respect he has for Robotnik, and he lets him get away with a lot like the hand going into the mouth and the throat chop. Stone understands that this is Robotnik, and this is what he needs to do his thing. What I also love about Stone is that he judges Robotnik at times too, so I feel like there's a respect there, but I think Stone is unwavering and always there for him and it probably forces Robotnik to have to be okay with it.
Were you surprised to watch that mid-credits scene and see that Agent Stone had been replace with, well, a stone?
The day I wrapped on set was the day before I shot that scene. I was there when they were coming up with the ideas, and Jim was talking to them saying, 'What if he has another Agent Stone? Like a Wilson from Castaway?' It was so funny, and I saw them putting the moss beard on there. I laughed really hard. There's flattery there too as Robotnik needs Stone in some way, shape, or form in order to continue doing what he's doing. No matter how much he denies needing anybody, I think Robotnik kind of needs Stone there even though he's not willing to admit it.
Were there any scenes you shot which were particularly memorable for you that you didn't ultimately make the final cut?
Honestly, all of my major scenes made the cut. I'm so grateful for that. It's really hard to pick a favourite scene out of all that stuff as it was all with Jim, and there was always something to do and something memorable between the two characters in every scene we did. Even when he asks if I see anything on the screen and I'm like, 'Nothing at all,' and he responds with, 'That's right, it's because you weren't trained by the Native American shadow wolves!' Even in that moment, Agent Stone gives him this look, and there was always some fun to be had. Ultimately, I think the latte scene...the Austrian goat milk latte scene is my favourite just because that whole dance leads up to this one moment and it's the only time in this movie that Robotnik actually pays Stone a compliment even though it's berated and he yells at him.
You've spent some time in the Marvel Universe voicing Harry Osborn in the Absolute Carnage shorts, but would a live-action superhero movie role interest you, and do you have any characters in mind?
Ohh, that's a really good question! I grew up loving Wolverine. That's always been one of those childhood dreams of mine. If I get the chance...I don't know, there might be fan outcry or whatever, but you know, I'm a little bit hairy! I've got the bushy eyebrows! I'm Canadian! I qualify in certain ways. I'm shorter than Hugh Jackman! It's okay, we can pull it off...I'll put on the weight. I don't care! [Laughs] Wolverine, for sure. Ever since I was a child, I've wanted to play him. There are a few anime characters I've always wanted to play too if they were ever turned into live-action. There's an anime called Saint Seiya. Also, Venom. I love the anti-heroes for some reason growing up. As a kid I got picked on and I was never really in any groups and I never fit in, so I think the anti-heroes kind of had that little angry voice in me that I couldn't quite express.
Looking ahead to a possible Sonic the Hedgehog sequel, what would you like to see from Stone next if he gets to reunite with the new, unhinged Robotnik?
I would love a moment where we see why he's an actual agent. I feel like he could kick some butt. We haven't seen it yet, and I would love a moment with Robotnik as a damsel in distress and Stone shows up, saves Robotnik, and Robotnik won't admit that he's saved him!