Where do we find Dr Robotnik at the beginning of this movie?
He has been marooned where we left him––on a planet filled with mushrooms of every kind. Obviously, he didn’t find the right ones because if he had, he would have stayed there. But he’s now back, full of vengeance, looking to get even with Sonic. He just needs that ‘Emerald Power’. You will see that he becomes something more than just a bad guy. He’s now a demigod. Which is everybody’s dream in this day and age! His level of evil is ratcheted up to 11, which is really fun to play.
What is it about this character that made you want to return for a second movie?
You come back because it’s a winning team. Also, the effect of the first movie was positive. People were able to watch it with their kids, first in the theatre and then when Covid hit, it became something that people could gather around as a family and watch. That made me feel really good. This is another lovely, sweet, innocent kind of film with all of the elements of that crazy CGI, dominating the world... mad- man thing. It’s always fun to play, although I really have to tone down my own megalomania just to play the character.
How would you say Dr Robotnik is different in this sequel?
Well, he’s evolving. He didn’t just stay one way. He went to the mushroom planet, cut off all his hair and grew a moustache, the size of a seesaw! The moustache is kind of an outward manifestation of his ego. I always think of it as a seesaw with Sonic on one side and Knuckles on the other one.
What can you tell us about the relationship between Robotnik and Knuckles?
Robotnik and Knuckles are the perfect one-two punch. Robotnik doesn’t love anybody because he can’t love himself. He’s just a narcissistic, malignant black hole of nothingness that sucks everything inside itself. When he runs into Knuckles, he sees him as a way out. He acts like a friend but he’s going to get rid of him as soon as he can. There’s no loyalty. No one can trust Robotnik.
How do you go about playing such a wild and maniacal character?
I just dial myself up 100 times my normal and then I slowly do takes where I put less and less into it, just so they have a little bit of play in the editing room. But Robotnik has got to be big. His self-loathing and malignant narcissism are a black hole in the universe that is sucking everything into it so you have to dial it up pretty high.
How much do you get to improvise?
With the first movie, there was a bit of a script and then I kind of changed everything and had a million ideas, most of which ended up in the film. On this one, they really didn’t flesh out my part in the script at all. I was a little upset when I first saw that, so I called and said, ‘Why didn’t you guys try to write some stuff for me?’ They were like, ‘Because you are just going to change it all anyway.’ So I basically spent the entire shoot coming up with ideas and doing what I call comedy carpet bombing. I just bring in a ton of stuff, we fool around with it and whatever needs to be in the movie stays in the movie.
Any funny moments on set that have stuck with you?
Yeah, working with Lee Majdoub (Agent Stone). Me and Lee together is a really fun combination. We’ve got great chemistry and he is very open to going mad and doing physical stuff, so we always have a lot of fun together. He takes quite a bit of abuse but he is way into it. I love that. We had a great time together on the set.
Robotnik wants to be super-powerful. What superpower would you want in real life?
I think I’m already doing what I’m super at. I think I found my niche. I have other niches that are less developed but my superpower is the power of presence. I think we all have a spark like that. We are all masterpieces in various needs of restoration. I have something that I believe is divine, that I am the curator of, and I am lucky to be able to share that and put it out into the world in creative flourishes that people seem to like. That’s my speciality.
How do you come down after playing a manic character like Dr Robotnik?
I meditate.When you learn meditation, it starts to affect how you feel about things and how your brain works in your everyday life. So the expansion I get when I meditate is as if my soul is not contained within my body. I become everything.