Super Mario Bros. Directors Explain Chris Pratt’s Mario Voice

Few video game protagonists have a voice as instantly recognizable as Mario’s, with actor Charles Martinet bringing the iconic Italian plumber to life in various Nintendo titles over the last 30 years. But when Universal and Illumination began developing The Super Mario Bros. Movie, the filmmakers decided to shake things up a bit. Instead of inviting Martinet to reprise his role on the big screen, they chose Chris Pratt to put his own stamp on the character. Reactions to Pratt’s involvement have been divisive, to say the least, especially once trailers for the film started giving players an early taste of his vocal performance. However, it sounds like directors Michael Jelenic and Aaron Horvath knew what they were doing from the get-go.

Jelenic and Horvath addressed the controversial response to Pratt’s Mario casting in a new interview with Total Film (via GamesRadar+). Specifically, they cited the actor’s history of playing everyman characters who just want to do the right thing. In the end, this made him the ideal candidate to embody their take on the movie’s mustachioed leading man.  

“For us, it made total sense,” said Horvath. “He’s really good at playing a blue-collar hero with a ton of heart. For the way that Mario is characterized in our film, he’s perfect for it.”

Rather than aping Martinet’s stereotypical Italian cadence, Pratt and Luigi voice actor Charlie Day will play the film’s titular siblings as Brooklyn natives who come “from a family of Italian immigrants” and run their own plumbing business, “cheesy” commercials and all. Although the original games never prioritized nuanced, character-driven storytelling, the directors still wanted to deliver a “very authentic Nintendo Super Mario experience,” which is why they had to think outside the box when crafting Mario’s onscreen journey.  

“It’s a bit of an origin tale,” added Horvath. “It’s the story of Mario becoming Super Mario. […] When you play the game, if you don’t give up, Mario will succeed. So we transferred that player experience from the game to a characteristic that [movie] Mario would have.” 

The Super Mario Bros. Movie will hit theaters on April 5.

How do you feel about Jelenic and Horvath’s approach to the film’s characters? Let us know in the comment section below!

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