Somebody has a new sidekick in Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Currently out in theaters, the film finds the furry speedster racing to protect humanity and discover what it means to be a hero. His nemeses Knuckles and Dr. Robotnik throw a wrench in those plans when they land on Earth seeking an object of infinite power. Enter the foxy Tails, one of Sonic’s most beloved allies from the Sega game. A mechanical wizard and inventor, he arrives just in time to rescue Sonic from the dastardly duo’s ambush. Together, Sonic and Tails embark on an adventure to retrieve the item before Robotnik and Knuckles.
The all-star voiceover cast includes Ben Schwartz as Sonic, Idris Elba as Knuckles, and Colleen O’Shaughnessey as Tails. O’Shaughnessey previously voiced the flying fox Tails in the Sonic Hedgehog games and reprised the role for Sonic 2. O’Shaughnessey recently spoke to CBR about Tail’s cinematic introduction, his journey from sidekick to hero, a third Sonic film, and why Tails has the best superpower.
CBR: Looking back at 2020’s Sonic the Hedgehog, moviegoers went wild over that post-credit sequence that teased the arrival of Tails. How surprised were you about that foreshadowing? Did they give you an advance warning?
Colleen O’Shaughnessey: I did not know about it in advance. I knew people loved Tails, but I was not prepared for the reaction. People jumped out of their seats, literally. They were on their feet, jumping up and down, and screaming. People sent me videos of their theatres. It was so exciting. Who knew?
Tails means a lot to the public, to the gamers. What do that love and affection mean to you?
It means so much to me. It is such an honor to be able to bring a character to life, in general, but to bring a character like Tails to life is a dream come true. It has been this whole time. I absolutely love and adore him, and that people love and adore him, too. I feel it’s a big responsibility to make sure that I do him justice, but I love that people love him because I do, too. It’s so heart-warming. I have been showered with so much love.
How happy were you that Sonic 2 not only introduces Tails to the cinematic universe for the first time but also kicks off his relationship with Sonic?
It’s such a great place to begin. All those projects I had worked on previously as Tails, the relationship had already been established. It’s so beautiful to see the beginning of this amazing friendship, and it was so great to work with Ben Schwartz. He’s so wonderful. With Covid and everything, and everyone was out of town, at least we had these Zooms or Skypes. To be able to actually work off of him that way was absolutely phenomenal.
Did that help elevate your performance when you get to bounce off Ben?
100 percent. Anytime you get to work off of your fellow actors, it’s always going to be a better performance, but to work off of Ben, what could be better?
Tails begins hero-worshipping Sonic hard. How would you describe their dynamic, and in what ways does it evolve over the course of the movie?
It absolutely starts with hero worship, for sure. Tails feels very nervous, but he feels compelled to come and warn Sonic that Knuckles is coming. He gets out of his own comfort zone and comes to warn him. Then, Sonic is like, “OK. Let’s go on this adventure.” Tails is like, “Whoa, whoa, whoa. No, no, no. I’m just the warning guy. I’m not the ‘Let’s go do the adventure guy.'” Then he builds confidence over the whole film. As they get to know each other, as they start trusting each other, Tails is gaining confidence towards the end and they realize, “Go, team!”
Tackling Tails again must have felt like putting on a comfortable sweater. What was the key to developing Tails’ voice originally, and how has it developed over the years?
It develops over collaboration with directors and writers. Working on this film, Tails has different circumstances. It’s the beginning of a relationship as opposed to the middle. You will find he’s very much Tails, but maybe a more grounded performance. The stakes are maybe higher. As far as how I developed him in the first place, it was collaborative. I came in with who I thought Tails was. He evolved over time with pushes and shoves, prods and pokes.
What’s the difference between doing voiceover work for a feature film as opposed to a video game?
When you are doing a video game, you are by yourself, although for this film we were often by ourselves because of Covid. You are by yourself. You have a script, and typically there’s not a lot of dialogue. You have a script full of just your lines. The director will maybe fill in the blanks, depending on the situation. For the most part, it’s “Go, go, go! Here we go!” Really up, really high energy, and more one-liners as opposed to dialogue in the film, where you are creating a scene. You are having emotions and having dialogue and having this give-and-take.
What kind of conversations have you had with director Jeff Fowler about Tails’ place in the next installment?
They are still in development. We have talked a little bit, but nothing specific. I think they are still figuring out exactly what direction they want to go, but absolutely, we have a ton of directions. They are just trying to figure out exactly what they want to put in this next one, and then, who knows where it will go from there?
What would you like to learn or explore about Tails?
I would love to know how he got started in making his gadgets. I would love to know how that came to be. Was he just naturally smart? Did he have a crazy uncle? I don’t know. I’d love to figure that part out.
Lastly, toot Tails’ horn. What makes flying-tail power cooler than super speed or strength?
Well, because you can pop on out of the way immediately. Sonic can only just go forward. I can go up. I can go sideways. I can go any which way, and it’s awesome. You can take your friend along with you, too.
Catch Sonic the Hedgehog 2 in theaters now.
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About The Author
Bryan Cairns (299 Articles Published)
Torontonian who loves comic books and everything genre.