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Idris Elba is Knuckles in Sonic the Hedgehog 2

sonic the hedgehog 2 idris elba

Sonic fans understandably lost their minds when Sonic's long time frenemy Knuckles was revealed in the first Sonic 2 trailer as a new villain, but the internet nearly broke, when it was unveiled that Idris Elba would be the actor voicing him.

When Idris Elba accepted the role of a super-powerful dreadlocked echidna in Sonic the Hedgehog 2, the actor wanted to know everything there was to know about the iconic Sega character he would be lending his voice to.

Idris would ask the directors, "What does Knuckles want? Where does he come from? What does he represent to Sonic? What does the Master Emerald mean to him, really?"

This is all according to director Jeff Fowler who told Polygon, “He was just so eager to absorb it all, and workshop him into best version of the character. Which was awesome. It was great to see how much he cared about getting it right.” 

In the same interview, Fowler would praise Idris' performance, noting how he “absolutely nailed it”. So any Knuckle fans still on the fence about Idris voicing their favourite video game echidna, can be rest assured that Knuckles is in safe hands.

Known for his role in the HBO series The Wire, including DC’s The Suicide Squad, Idris joins Ben Schwartz as Sonic, Jim Carrey as Dr. Eggman, and James Marsden as Tom Wachowski.

Considering that Elba is mostly known to portray charismatic rogue-like characters, he took plenty of people by surprise when he confirmed that he would be taking on the role of Knuckles. Though considering his sizable acting range, it really shouldn't have come as much of a shock.

Furthermore this isn't the first time he has appeared offscreen and voiced animated characters, because the British actor has put his sought-after voice to use in a number of voice-over roles. Which include Disney's live-action Jungle book, Finding Dory, and Zootopia, all released in 2016.

Although a number of voice actors have portrayed Knuckles in the past, in multiple Sonic games and other Sonic related media, with each one delivering their own spin on the character,  Elba's performance is arguably the most believable and imposing Knuckles to date.

sonic vs knuckles movie

Now there's no denying that Idris’ take on Knuckles is going to be badass and cool, but the actor has made it perfectly clear that the red echidna — or at least his voice — won’t be "sexy".

In a 2021 interview with Screen Rant, Elba explained what he planned to bring to the role, and been "sexy", wasn't the vibe he was going for. “I wouldn’t say he was sexy,” the actor said. “I don’t think I’m going for that. That’s for sure.”

In a more recent interview with etonline which included both Elba and Jim Carrey, the cast mates spoke about Elba's character, Knuckles, and the "sex appeal" he's bringing to Sonic's arch frenemy.

Elba addressed the crowd who were falling head over heels over his Knuckles voice, "You know what man, I don't know if they're really listening," Elba said. "Sexy -- because I said I was trying not to put on a sexy voice for Knuckles, and I think someone was like, 'uh failed.'"

"From my perspective I didn't try to be that," he continued. "I was really going for a character that English wasn't its first language, and that he was a little bit awkward. So, if that comes across sexy, thumbs up."

Jim Carrey would also chime in, "Idris makes the coffee table seem sexier, you know, he puts his feet up on it and suddenly it's like, 'damn that coffee table is fire,'" Carey joked. "The guy has just got it going on."

On a more serious note Carrey went on to say, "Super glad he joined the gang, and I am super glad because he is just a great actor to begin with, and a great presence". 

Idris would reveal all in his video interview with ET Canada to promote the movie. Idris admitted he was excited be apart of a legacy world involving the larger than life Sonic universe.

 I remember saying, wow Knuckles wants to come alive, I can voice that

Elba explains his first impression of the role, "I remember saying, wow Knuckles wants to come alive, I can voice that, I was a little nervous about it, trying to understand what does knuckles sound like, but it was a really good experience making it, and just trying to explore how to create what the sound of Knuckles is."

Like many kids growing up, Sonic The Hedgehog was apart of Idris Elba's childhood and he credited the blue speedster as being of his first gaming heroes. Though he never thought in a million years that he would actually be apart of the franchise.

Finding the right voice for knuckles was a bit of a journey for Idris, who said "Is he American, is he English, is he tribal, what is it? And what was great was we had a chance to just explore different sound sonics, pardon, but just explore different places my voice could go." 

knuckles sonic 2 movie

He further explained, "there's obviously Knuckles, who has this sure of menacing sort of presence, a little powerhouse, and so obviously the voice, you know, we wanted to reflect that, I think where we landed, where the accent feels like it could come maybe from England, maybe America in places, maybe just other. His English speaking voice is a reflection of what his language might be as an echidna warrior, and just bringing that to life was a lot of fun." 

Idris admits that when he first landed the role, he didn't know much about Knuckles, he said "I know his iconography, I know he's a big character within the Sonic universe, but I didn't know too much about his history. So I got to learn about him as a warrior, and the echidna tribe, and a very powerful proud tribe, dawned in the red hair and the red body and his incredible Knuckles."

The actor would jokingly compare his fists to the red creature before continuing, "He's a character that is sort of void of, you know, warm and fuzzy, he's not a warm and fuzzy guy. He's very dry and straight to the point, and means business. And in the movie he uh you know, his sole purpose is to go after Sonic. And um when he gets there, you know things start to unravel."

"He's a character that is sort of void of, you know, warm and fuzzy, he's not a warm and fuzzy guy

When Idris read the story for Knuckles, he felt it was great journey and character to play, so he was excited about that. The actor also felt that a character like Knuckles doesn't understand lying, humor or emotion, only brute force. 

Working closely with director Jeff Fowler, Idris wanted to play up to the dryness of Knuckles not understanding humor and just being very outspoken. While at the same time, not understanding why that may be inappropriate, just a bit too loud,  or a little bit insensitive. 

Idris Elba's take on Knuckles, brings back the ruthless and classic Knuckles that has long being absent from our screens. You could say that Elba's Knuckles is most comparable to Knuckles from the now defunct Sonic the Comic fleetway series. Though when it's all done, Idris hopes fans enjoys his portrayal as Knuckles.

It doesn't end there as Paramount has confirmed that Idris Elba will also be voicing Knuckles in a new spin-off television series featuring the hot headed Sonic rival. The new show will arrive on our screens sometime in 2023.

Regardless of what other details about Paramount’s forthcoming Sonic the Hedgehog sequel drop ahead of the movie’s launch, people are going to want to check it out — if only to witness a new version of Knuckles the Echidna voiced by one Idris Elba.

The sonic the hedgehog 2 movie release date is April 8, 2022 in the United States.

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