“Sonic the Hedgehog 2” star Ben Schwartz talks about his big comedy breakthrough

“Sonic the Hedgehog 2” has become the highest-grossing video game film ever in the US, topping $150 million at the box office. The Blue Hedgehog is voiced by Emmy-winning writer, actor, and comedian Ben Schwartz — who shares his path to fame with CBS News.

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Comedian/actor Ben Schwartz performs on stage at The Fonda Theater on December 13, 2017, in Los Angeles, California.

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Schwartz was 22 years old when he started working as a page for “The Late Show with David Letterman” at the Ed Sullivan Theatre. He even cracks jokes for monologues, being a freelance writer.

“I got 21 jokes, which is huge,” said Schwartz.

But that’s just his daily job. At night, he works as an intern at the Upright Citizens Brigade—an improv club later located in the basement under a supermarket—charged with tasks such as taking out the trash.

“I’m addicted to comedy,” said Schwartz. “I like it very much.”

During improv shows, he also worked on the bar in the back.

“And I would watch every show,” said Schwartz. “That’s how I get better at improv.”

His talent for improvisation helped him land the part of Sonic the Hedgehog in movies about superhero video gamesas well as a new sequel.

Schwartz brought his love of improvisation to both films, saying, “anytime I think of a joke, I’ll put it in there.”

“And I played it, like, little kid in my head,” he added.

Schwartz, who was a video game addict as a child, initially only voiced brief test scenes as Sonic—which Jeff Fowler directed into the studio.

Jim Carrey (L) and Ben Schwartz attend the “Sonic the Hedgehog” London Fan Screening at Vue Westfield on January 30, 2020, in London, United Kingdom.

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“But the goal is I do it for free as a favor, and then cross my fingers, wait maybe eight months, and then I get a call from Jeff Fowler,” he said. “I’ve never been so excited.”

This is the biggest role for the 40-year-old actor, who gained attention when playing a series of insincere characters like Jean-Ralphio Saperstein in “Parks and Recreation.” He also played rotating doctor Clyde Oberholt in Don Cheadle’s comedy, “House of Lies,” and fast-talking media manager F. Tony Scarapiducci on Steve Carell’s show “Space Force.”

“I love playing the cocky idiot,” said Schwartz. “I like to play the idiot who doesn’t know he doesn’t.”

Schwartz said he had no idea why he did the character so well.

“And then I also like to give heart to those characters so you feel sorry for them when they fail a bit too,” he said.

He got to sing and dance in the murder mystery series, “The Afterparty,” and star in a drama called “Standing Up, Falling Down,” with Billy Crystal, his personal idol.

Schwartz just finished filming “Renfield,” a new Dracula film in which he plays the tattooed bad guy. He filmed a scene with Nicolas Cage as Dracula.

“Oh, it’s a dream come true,” he said.

When Schwartz isn’t acting, he’s often written scripts for television and films, but neither of them have been filmed — yet.

“It’s disappointing. And also the opposite of improvisation, which is instant gratification,” he said. “I said a joke, I laughed right away, or you know, I didn’t laugh right away. I know exactly how it goes.”

Schwartz recorded three improv specials with Thomas Middleditch for Netflix in 2019, called “Middleditch & Schwartz.” Improv is still his first love.

“I love the idea of ​​coming with nothing. When you come to one of my shows, people in the audience get a show that night that will never be the same that will never be another show like it, because it’s all made up . ,” she says. “But I like the idea of ​​building something there and it disappears. And we all just have a moment together. … I like to make people laugh a lot.”

“Sonic the Hedgehog 2,” in theaters now, is distributed by Paramount Pictures, which is part of Paramount Global, CBS News’ parent company.


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