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Colleen O’Shaughnessey talks Tails in Sonic 2, spin-off ideas, and her reaction to the character’s movie look

Tails in Sonic 2
(Image credit: Paramount)

Many voices in Sonic 2 will sound familiar. Ben Schwartz’ energetic performance as Sonic and Idris Elba’s deadpan delivery as rival Knuckles will instantly have ears pricking up. On the live-action side of things, the likes of Jim Carrey and James Marsden have graced our screens for decades, criss-crossing across franchises and mega-hits such as X-Men, Westworld, and The Truman Show.

Yet, ironically, Colleen O’Shaughnessey’s voice might be the most recognizable of the bunch. The actor has portrayed iconic video game character and (Sonic’s BFF) Tails in the Sonic series since 2014’s Sonic Boom. The twin-tailed fox’s voice actor has even shaken off the industry’s trend to cast A-listers and has reprised her role in cinemas for the big-screen sequel to 2020’s Sonic the Hedgehog.

GamesRadar+ recently sat down with O’Shaughnessey to talk all things Tails: from Tails’ "prequel"-style role in Sonic 2, to collaborating with director Jeff Fowler – and even what she’d want to see from a Tails spin-off. So, head into your Tornado and fly on down to our quickfire interview with Colleen O’Shaughnessey. Note: the following interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Sonic 2

(Image credit: Paramount)

GamesRadar+: Fans might be surprised to learn that Tails meets Sonic for the first time in this movie. There’s no previous history or friendship between the pair. How would you describe their evolving dynamic, especially with Sonic going on his own journey of self-discovery and Tails having a bit of a hero worship thing going on?

Colleen O’Shaughnessey: I was just going to say hero worship. He feels compelled to warn him and find him, there’s that give and take. Without giving anything away, he’s nervous and this is his idol: ‘What, you want me to go on this journey with you? I’m just the warning guy. Good luck, I’m gonna hit it!’

You obviously have a unique perspective on Tails, having also voiced him in the games. How does movie Tails compare to the one found in the games?

It’s just different scenarios, different situations. We’re meeting him at a different stage of his relationship with Sonic, we’re just getting to know him. It’s more like a prequel, if you will, to what I’ve worked on before. Because all of those relationships were already established in things I worked on previously.

During the process of recording, pre-production, and whatever else, were you consulted on the character at all? How does Tails act? What should he say?

I was given the script ahead of time [and] we did talk a little bit more about having more of a grounded performance, as opposed to something a little more heightened like we do for the video games. 

But I approached Tails the same way. And you have a different director, so the director is going to guide you where you need to go in whatever given situation.

You’ve played Tails for almost a decade now and I’m sure you deepen your understanding of him every time you play him. What was something new you learned about Tails while playing him in this movie?

He does gain some confidence throughout the film - not that he didn’t have confidence before. He’s tried and true. He’s Tails. He’s smart, he’s loyal, he’s your best friend. He’ll do anything for you. 

I spoke to director Jeff Fowler late last year and he said, even from the post-credits of the first movie, all the designs have been sort of touched up and improved. What was your reaction to seeing what is probably the most detailed Tails has ever looked?

He's gorgeous. I'm so excited. He's adorable. He's sweet. I love, love, love what they did with him. 

There’s been confirmation of a Sonic Cinematic Universe and a Knuckles spin-off. If there was ever a Tails spin-off, what would you like to see from it?

I'd like to see more of his world. How did he get started creating these things? How did he become an inventor? What was it that like? Was it because he was different? And he needed something to do? Did it always come to him? Did he have a crazy uncle? I would love to know that backstory of how he got started in his gadgetry.

Speaking of backstory, we haven’t seen too much of the world Sonic and Tails come from in these movies. What were you given in preparation for this movie? Was there a bible of what Tails is in this movie?

No, I was given the script and then I had a great conversation with Jeff Fowler ahead of time. But as far as backstory, I just kind of had to conjure that for myself. They didn't really provide that - other than he's coming from another planet to warn Sonic.

On that conversation with Jeff: was he conscious of your previous work in the games? Did he want to tweak it?  Where was his head at with that?

He was very aware of my work on the games. And he was very open to if I had insight on anything, because of the games. He was very open to any suggestions; it was very collaborative working with him, he was great.

When recording, was there any opportunity to bounce off other performers? 

There was nobody in the room with me. Actually, some of it I did in my closet in my house. Because of COVID, we've been doing things at home. 

The very first session, I was in my closet, I think Jeff was in Hawaii still. And [Sonic actor Ben Schwartz] was in Vancouver.. But I did get to work with Ben via Skype or Zoom, so that was fantastic to be able to work off of him. It was really, really wonderful.


Sonic The Hedgehog 2 is exclusively in cinemas April 1 in the UK and April 8 in the US. For more from the series, check out our ranking of the best Sonic games.

I'm the Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, focusing on news, features, and interviews with some of the biggest names in film and TV. On-site, you'll find me marveling at Marvel and providing analysis and room temperature takes on the newest films, Star Wars and, of course, anime. Outside of GR, I love getting lost in a good 100-hour JRPG, Warzone, and kicking back on the (virtual) field with Football Manager. My work has also been featured in OPM, FourFourTwo, and Game Revolution.