Arab actor Lee Majdoub discusses the life-changing success of ‘Sonic The Hedgehog’

DUBAI: Lee Majdoub shouldn’t have gotten the poster. Agent Stone, the role the Lebanese-Canadian actor played in the blockbuster “Sonic the Hedgehog” franchise, was written as a small piece — essentially a target for Jim Carrey’s one-liner flow. Now, in “Sonic the Hedgehog 2,” Majdoub has become a cornerstone of the franchise, embraced by filmmakers and fans alike, and set a new direction for his Hollywood career.

However, when Majdoub saw a poster featuring Agent Stone, it wasn’t how far he thought, but what it meant to the children who went to the theater, and what it meant for their future.

“When they released a poster featuring only Agent Stone, people came up to me and told me about their kids seeing it. They told me that their children looked at them with big smiles and said, ‘Oh my gosh! That person looks like me,’” Majdoub told Arab News.

“I soon realized that, growing up, I never had that; I never looked at the poster and saw someone who looked like me. I never even watched a movie and saw someone who looked like me, and even then I’ve rarely seen someone who looks like me represented in a three-dimensional light. Now I have the opportunity to help change that.”

Walid Majdoub, Jim Carrey, Rowaida Majdoub and Lee Majdoub attend ‘Sonic the Hedgehog 2’ Family Day in Los Angeles. (Getty Images)

Representation had long been on Majdoub’s mind. Growing up without real representation on screen, she didn’t know how to embrace her identity in the West, often feeling the need to avoid it in order to fit in. Now, her mission is to do what she can to ensure that no child from the Arab world or beyond is forced to feel the same way.

“I always ask what I can do to fight prejudice about the characters I play, or the people you see on screen,” he said.

The fact that Majdoub has found the biggest success of his career so far with the film “Sonic the Hedgehog” is apt. Majdoub has been a huge fan of the franchise since he played the second “Sonic the Hedgehog” video game on Sega Genesis in the early nineties. So when he got the role, it wasn’t to raise a paycheck from another cynical cashback on popular intellectual property, but an opportunity to give his all for something that helped shape him as a child.

Luckily for Majdoub, the rest of Sonic’s team liked him as much as he did—which he saw as the winning ingredient in the franchise’s massive success.

For Majdoub, he had no more important bond on set than with Carrey, who plays the franchise’s main villain, Dr Robotnik. (provided)

“So many people involved in the creative process really care about Sonic, whether they grew up with video games, or their kids loved them, or they loved comics. In some way, they were all affected by Sonic’s world. I think it’s just the amount of care that goes into it,” Majdoub said.

“A lot of times with big budget projects there is no communication, and it turns into a bit of a nightmare. To take part in the first film and see that everyone cares is a great thing — and to not only care about Sonic, but really care about the whole team. Everyone talks to each other like humans. It was a breath of fresh air,” he continued.

The love and care the filmmakers have for the franchise is something that Sonic’s fan base recognizes, and is returned to in the same way. “The reaction was absolutely incredible,” Majdoub said.

For Majdoub, he had no more important bond on set than with Carrey, who plays the franchise’s main villain, Dr Robotnik. Majdoub’s childhood hero was Carrey, a man who overcame a large amount of childhood bullying for being different and went on to become one of the most beloved actors of his generation, and whose unique energy is what helped him become successful — a story that is no different from Majdoub.

Majdoub has become the cornerstone of the franchise. (provided)

“There is no one like him. I’ve always loved Jim. It was incredible that he had been doing this for over 30 years at such a high level. I’ve only had a few weeks of his energy—I don’t understand how he’s kept it up for so long. He is functioning at such a high level, and is still at the top of his game,” Majdoub said.

Carrey has said that after the film “Sonic the Hedgehog” ends, he will step away from acting, an announcement that hurts Majdoub as a Carrey fan, but warms his heart as a colleague and friend.

“If he is ready to go, then bless him. I take my hat off to him. He doesn’t owe anyone anything. If he feels like it’s time to go spend more time with his family, he more than gets it. And for us fans, there are so many movies to re-watch,” said Majdoub.

Majdoub has been a huge fan of the franchise since he played the second “Sonic the Hedgehog” video game on Sega Genesis in the early nineties. (Getty)

The chemistry between Majdoub and Carrey is not instantaneous. In fact, on his first day on set, Majdoub spends their first scene together having a practical out-of-body experience, unable to process that the man who helped him become the person he is today is standing before him, appearing on top of form, with Majdoub expected. to respond well.

After initial hesitation, Majdoub calmed his nerves, and started living with Carrey. The result was not what they had planned. That’s much more.

“Tim said to me, ‘The magic moments between you and Jim are something none of us expect.’ The more that was perfected, the more ideas Jim came up with. We started to feed each other — from the energy we created together. They told me that Agent Stone wouldn’t be Agent Stone if I didn’t play the character, and I definitely think there’s some truth to that,” Majdoub said.

The chemistry between Majdoub and Carrey is not instantaneous. (provided)

Part of the reason why they were able to add so much to what Carrey and Majdoub did in the film stems from Carrey himself, who had the freedom to rewrite his scenes, to suit his own and Majdoub’s talents.

“Jim can do a lot of creative stuff and write for the character, they leave it open to him. It’s like, ‘Here’s the scenario, and… go!’ He’s going to find out writing a few things. A lot of what he and I did came from his extraordinary mind,” Majdoub said.

In the end, it was a life-changing experience for Majdoub, allowing him to finally embrace his potential, with more to come.

“Thirteen years into my career, and I finally accepted what I was really offering,” he concluded.


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