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“It was super secretive. They called it Casino Night.”
That’s actor Lee Majdoub, describing the movie that came to be known as Sonic the Hedgehog. In reference to the alternate title, Majdoub tells The Hollywood Reporter, “I had an inkling [during the casting process] because I remembered that there was a stage called Casino Night in the game. And there was enough in the writing that I thought, ‘This might be Sonic.'” And indeed, it was.
The movie, which initially received so much backlash from fans over the appearance of the iconic speedster that the character was completely redesigned, is now facing an imminent release on Feb. 14. And Majdoub is preparing for take off.
The actor, who auditioned for the role of Agent Stone — sidekick to Jim Carrey’s Dr. Ivo Robotnik — tells THR that he didn’t meet director Jeff Fowler until his first day on set. But the two quickly bonded over being of the same generation: the Sonic and Carrey generation, to be precise. “We clicked through that conversation,” explains the actor. “He had such a great understanding of what they wanted to do on that film. I don’t think I ever saw him frazzled once on that set.”
Looking at the whole experience, Majdoub says he found it “insanely surreal” to be working on a movie about a video game he “spent hours” playing on his Sega Genesis as a kid. (His gaming interests have continued into adulthood, as he’s currently tackling Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order on PS4 and Luigi’s Mansion 3 on Nintendo Switch.)
As for working alongside Carrey, Majdoub says that you always wish for the best when such unique opportunities arise. “I grew up on a lot of Jim’s stuff. Ace Ventura was — is — one of my favorite movies of all time. You always hear things like, ‘Oh, you don’t want to meet your heroes,’ but he was big-hearted with a smile on his face and so much positive energy that you couldn’t help but smile being around him. He’s incredibly collaborative and hyper-specific with his work, I don’t think I could have had a better experience working with him.”
These days, it’s not only Carrey’s extensive body of comedic work that inspires Majdoub, but the sentiment he represents. [It’s] his talks about being positive and the universe providing as long as you’re a good person,” says the actor.
Recalling one of his most memorable days on set, Majdoub says, “[Carrey] started improvising with me, and I felt like I was given permission to do the same with him. So that was an element of that collaborative thing where I knew I could go on set and play around. That was a really cool realization to have.”
Working in an environment where every crewmember wanted to “do the absolute best they could to pay homage to the character,” Majdoub explains that the biggest challenge for him was an internal one. “It’s a large movie, a great cast involved, so you put a little bit of pressure on yourself considering the budget of the movie, and it’s a theatrical release, and you’re working alongside Jim. You don’t have the opportunity to mess up.”
Majdoub, who was born in Lebanon, began his acting career in 2007 after earning a college degree in mechanical engineering. “I wanted to do product design, [but] the way we grew up, art was never something that my parents felt was something to make a living off of,” he tells THR. “So I didn’t do enough research and thought the most artistic science would be mechanical engineering because it had design elements. But I was hugely mistaken.” The hiccup caused him to switch gears.
When his sister suggested he give acting a go, everything fell into place. “I was 20 when I took my first acting class, and a few months after that, I realized it was something I wanted to do, [and] the quickest way to pursue it was to finish university as fast as possible,” says Majdoub.
Among his recent acting credits, he has been seen in The 100, You Me Her and Prison Break.
Along with most of the world, Majdoub hasn’t yet seen Sonic the Hedgehog in its entirety, but he has a feeling the story will strike an emotional chord with audiences. “Sonic is a fish out of water and trying to find his place in the world, and who doesn’t resonate with that?”
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