Sonic The Hedgehog 2's Siberia Scene Was An Improv Acting Showcase

In the first "Sonic the Hedgehog" movie, Sonic (voiced by Ben Schwartz) and Green Hills Sheriff Tom Wachowski (a.k.a "Donut Lord," James Marsden) go on the run from Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey). During a pit stop at a tavern patronized by bone-picking motorcyclists, the pair find themselves in a barroom brawl.

In "Sonic the Hedgehog 2," the search for the Master Emerald leads Sonic and Tails to Russia, where they make a pit stop at another ominous pub in Siberia. However, this time a precarious situation with the Russian patrons ends in not fisticuffs ... but in danceticuffs. Mark Ronson's "Uptown Funk" provides the beat as Sonic and Tails strut their stuff in a dance routine that captivates the whole pub. It's the most feel-good scene in the movie — and it turns out it was improvised. Colleen O'Shaughnessey, the voice actor who voiced Tails, revealed in an interview with Insider:

"The best thing was recording that scene in Siberia. It was so much fun, and they just let us go. We kept really true to the script for a couple of passes, and then they were just like, 'go for it.' Especially the parts in the middle where we're bumping into each other, we got to just really go for it, and it was so much fun."

Since the actors weren't physically on set, Schwartz and O'Shaughnessey's improvised klutziness in the recording booth was brought to life by the animators later. "I think I did go back in a few times to add a couple things here and there once they animated," O'Shaughnessey says. "But yeah, it was so fun. You're like, 'over this way,' 'no, that way,' or 'whoops!'"

Ben Schwartz is no stranger to improv

Aside from the legend himself, Jim Carrey, if there's one "Sonic the Hedgehog 2" cast member who can be trusted with improv, it's Ben Schwartz. Schwartz is a comedian who in the early 2010s had a segment called "Terrible Decisions with Ben Schwartz" on the HBO sketch comedy show "Funny or Die Presents." He's also recognizable to many as rich kid and wannabe entrepreneur Jean-Ralphio in NBC sitcom "Parks and Recreation."

But Schwartz really showcased his improv chops in 2020 when he teamed with fellow actor Thomas Middleditch to create the comedy show "Middleditch & Schwartz," landing a special on Netflix. In front of a live audience, Middleditch and Schwartz would ask an audience member for a prompt. After they spend a moment peppering the audience member with questions related to the prompt, the duo would then act out an on-the-spot comedy segment. Schwartz also has a solo act that he takes on tour. Because he regularly manages pressure that comes from improvising jokes in front of a live audience, improv while doing voiceover is probably a cakewalk for Schwartz.

Colleen O'Shaughnessey is no slouch either

Colleen O'Shaughnessey is most known for her voiceover work. She voiced Sora Takenouchi in the "Digimon” series along with a host of other characters from anime, film and video games, and she first voiced Tails in two "Sonic” video games in 2014. 

But O'Shaughnessey is also a comedian with improv chops. As she explains in another interview, after she moved to LA to jump start her career, she joined an improv collective called Social Extortion. At first, the group performed plays prompted by ideas from the audience. Later, the group transitioned into a weekly sitcom where the audience again picked the topic for each show, very much like "Middleditch & Schwartz." Social Extortion ended up dissolving, but O'Shaughnessey expressed her continued appreciation for improv. "I think it helped me a lot with voice overs," she says. "Improv frees you up, gets you out of your head, so you don't think, you just do ... I tend to be an over-thinker, which doesn't work for me as an actor."

O'Shaughnessey also expressed in that interview that she would like to improv again at some point. The Siberia scene in "Sonic the Hedgehog 2" gave her a little taste of what getting back into it would feel like, and she was happy to share that moment with Ben Schwartz. "We both have an improv background, so it was easy," O'Shaughnessey told Insider. "[Ben Schwartz is] just so wonderful, and when you have a super pro like that who you get to work off of, it just makes your job even easier, you know?"

Improv scenes often make the best ones; they're so organic and spontaneous. And since "Sonic the Hedgehog 2" post-credit scene teases a third movie, it appears that fans can look forward to more of the "O'Shaughnessey & Schwartz" improv duo.