Many fans of Sega’s long-running Sonic the Hedgehog franchise were sad to learn last month that Roger Craig Smith would not be returning to voice Sonic in future video game installments. The voice actor has been part of the franchise since 2010, even bringing Sonic to life in Super Smash Bros. and Disney’s Wreck-It Ralph. Smith has been gracious about his exit, thanking fans for their support, and recently he confirmed it was his decision to stop.
A studio may choose to recast a character’s voice for any number of reasons. Sometimes the voice actor does something unsavory and gets themselves fired, or other times the requirements for the job change. TC Carson did not reprise his role as Kratos in God of War (2018) because director Cory Barlog wanted the voiceover and motion capture to be provided by the same person, for example. Neither were the case for Smith, who said it just seemed like the right moment to go.
In an interview on the Voices From Krypton (VFK) Podcast published February 17, Smith discussed how “amazing” it is to see surprised fans and non-industry experts speculate about whether he was fired, as there is apparently a perception that voice actors don’t just walk away – something he said comes up “all the time.” In the case of his departure from Sonic the Hedgehog, Smith said he was proud of what he had done and simply felt like he didn’t want to keep doing it.
“Some people would be like, ‘why?’ and it’s like, ‘it doesn’t have to make sense to you.’ It [makes] perfectly good sense to me and it was the right thing to do, and I’m happy to have done it,” Smith said.
At the same time as Smith departs from the franchise, Amy Rose voice actor Cindy Robinson also announced she is leaving. Some voice talent is sticking with the series, including Dr. Eggman’s Mike Pollock, but it is currently unclear who will be taking over the titular role for the next Sonic the Hedgehog video game and beyond.
The iconic lead character will still be portrayed by Ben Schwartz in the upcoming film Sonic the Hedgehog 2, a follow-up to the 2020 hit by Paramount Pictures. Schwartz has not been approached about playing video game Sonic, he said in an interview with ComicBook earlier this month. Sonic the Hedgehog will undoubtedly continue to pump out new entries in spite of its cast changes, similar to franchises like Dr. Who and James Bond, so fans just have to wait and see who gets hired next.