ComingSoon spoke with Sonic Prime star Deven Mack and series executive producer Logan McPherson about playing an iconic character and adapting game mechanics into a show. Sonic Prime premieres on Netflix on December 15.
“The action-packed adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog go into overdrive when a run-in with Dr. Eggman results in a literal universe-shattering event,” reads the logline. “Desperate to piece his prime reality back together and save his old friends, Sonic races through the Shatterverse, discovering strange worlds and enlisting new friends in an epic adventure of a lifetime!”
Spencer Legacy: Devon, before this role, were you a big Sonic fan growing up?
Deven Mack: I would definitely say Sonic is a character that really resonated with me as a little kid. I was the shyest kid in school, and while I didn’t have the video games, I would watch those cartoons and say, “Wow, he’s too cool for school. I’ve got to get like that though.” Then as a teen, I got to play a game very deeply for the first time with Sonic Adventure 2. So to now be working on that property that was so influential to me and something that really inspired me when I was younger … it’s very surreal. It’s something I’m super grateful to be a part of.
Logan, there have been a lot of multiverse stories lately. What made that a good fit for Sonic?
Logan McPherson: We really wanted to take Sonic in new directions with this series. It is based on the mythology, it is part of the canon, and we really used that as a springboard for the story. But we wanted to stretch him and take the story in crazy new directions. So the “Shatterverse,” as we’re calling it, made sense for us to be able to explore and play with different aspects and elements without changing the mythology that already exists. That was very important to us to not come in and rewrite history. It all was to respect that legacy. We worked very closely with Sega. They’ve been an amazing partner and creative contributor to the project all along. We made sure that the legacy was protected and it was authentic and accurate, and we launch it in different directions that don’t infringe on that at the same time.
Deven, Sonic has had so many voices, from Jaleel White to Ryan Drummond to Ben Schwartz. Was there any specific one that you really took inspiration from for your portrayal?
Deven Mack: Honestly, it’s all of them. There’s so much of a rich legacy. Everybody brought something really special and unique to the character. But, at the same time, all of them carry that swagger, that confidence. For me, it was really, really important to just do my own thing in addition to still paying tribute to everybody who paved the way for me. So, again, everybody brought something very special to the table, and I’m just grateful that I get to be alongside them as one of those names who helps carry on the character’s legacy.
Logan, certain gameplay details like spin-dashing or Knuckles’ gliding appear in the show. What were some difficulties that came with adapting very specific interactive mechanics to a show format?
Logan McPherson: The series is super action forward and representing that action authentically was important. Sega sent us a list of moves for us to explore. The real challenge in the filmmaking of the sequences is the choreography, and how do we stitch those moves together that is not inside a game format? it’s inside a cinematic experience. How do we choreograph those things and make them feel like they authentically are representing the moves in the game, but suit the action forwardness and the dynamism of the sequences themselves? And I can tell you, the crew really leaned into going over that list and we talked about, “Well, what if we had a homing dash and a stomp together and he could spin into a tornado?” Finding different ways to combine those elements to make sure those sequences were super dynamic and eye-popping, where you really felt the stakes and the jeopardy and the crisis and the conflict that is happening in the storyline at the same time. So the challenge was taking those game moves as a springboard, but immersing them into a storytelling world where they really fit the situation.
Deven, Sonic is probably one of the most iconic characters ever. You talked about how you wanted to carry on that legacy, but how did you deal with the pressure that comes with someone who’s up there with Mario as such a huge and well-loved character?
Deven Mack: I’m still asking myself that same question. It’s scary to go out there and be like, “Hey guys. It’s me. I’m part of this now.” Sonic has some of the most passionate fans — more than any sports team that I can think of. But again, the outpouring of love that I got from everybody out there was so overwhelmingly positive. It’s something that just hit me really, really deep, to see my voice coming from that character and people saying, “Hey, this still feels like Sonic to me.” Again, I couldn’t be more grateful for the response that I got, because Sonic fans know what they want and they make their voices heard. That’s one of the great things about the fandom. Again, to be accepted by so many is just something that’s very, very special to me and I’m very grateful for.
Logan, a lot of Sonic’s friends appear in the show and Rouge joins the main group. What was the selection process like for them?
Logan McPherson: Obviously, we wanted to incorporate more characters from the lore and from the games. Rouge was an interesting one because she’s really not part of the gang. So we were exploring how can we bring Rouge into the fold and create a situation where she’s essentially fighting on their side because the threat is to them as a whole. So it just became this interesting dynamic where it’s typically not part of the way the relationship works, but we’ve created a situation that forces her into the fold and to be part of this group. So it was finding ways to use the drama to create different dynamics within the relationships that already exist.
Deven, Sonic has a lot of famous lines. Did you have a favorite, whether it was in the show or not, to say in the booth?
Deven Mack: You know, I’ve always been a fan of, “I’ll make you eat those words!”
That’s the best. Logan, you mentioned that you guys did a separate story so that you didn’t rewrite history. So was that the main contributing factor to not having something take place in the main timeline of the games?
Logan McPherson: Yeah, absolutely. We wanted to use that mythology as as a springboard, but explore these characters and these situations in ways that have never been done before. So we felt like it was a way to really respect that legacy, but take it in a different direction at the same time
That opens up the possibility of an Into the Sonicverse kind of thing.
Logan McPherson: Absolutely.
Deven, what advice would you give aspiring voice actors who might be watching and hoping that they can do something like you do?
Deven Mack: Honestly, I would say there is so much opportunity out there now that so many voice actors are coming from the online side of things. It’s never been easier to connect with other people and to just make your own projects. Take a favorite comic and just put voices to it, or take a novel or just write your own original stories and group up with a bunch of friends. Make your own radio dramas, make your own podcasts. Connect with people, learn and grow together and challenge each other. Community is just the most important thing that you can have when you’re trying to move forward as a creative. So I cannot stress that enough — always look for influences to draw from and other people you can learn from and grow together.