Super Mario Bros. movie producer Chris Meledandri defends casting Chris Pratt

Chris Pratt made headlines in late September when the Seattle-born actor was cast to voice the iconic Italian video game character Mario in a new Super Mario Bros. movie.

Pratt, 42, will be joined by Charlie Day as Mario’s plumber brother Luigi, with Anya Taylor-Joy landing the role of Princess Peach.

The casting lead to backlash from the fans for not hiring an Italian (or at least an Italian-American) actor to voice Mario, but one of the film’s producers, Illumination Entertainment founder Chris Meledandri, defending the casting in an interview with TooFab. 

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Headlines: Chris Pratt made headlines in late September when the Seattle-born actor was cast to voice the iconic Italian video game character Mario in a new Super Mario Bros. movie

Meledandri was interviewed while flying into LAX, when he was asked about Pratt voicing both Mario and the cartoon cat Garfield in another movie.

‘All I can tell you is the voice that he’s doing for us, and Mario, is phenomena.. Yeah I can’t wait for people to hear it,’ Meledandri said.

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Meledandri was then asked about the backlash about not hiring an Italian actor to voice Mario.

Backlash: Meledandri was then asked about the backlash about not hiring an Italian actor to voice Mario

‘Well, as an Italian American myself, I understand. You know, I understand the comments,’ he said.

The producer added that Pratt’s co-star Charlie Day, ‘actually comes from Italian heritage. Yeah so that’s our nod.’

He added that they, ‘cover’ the accent in the movie, stating, ‘So you’ll see we definitely nod to that.’

Understand: ‘Well, as an Italian American myself, I understand. You know, I understand the comments,’ he said

Though when asked if Pratt will be leaning hard into Mario’s signature line, ‘It’s a-me, Mario,’ Meledandri insisted that is not happening. 

‘That’s not the tenor of the performance throughout the film, he said, and when asked if people are going to want to ‘cancel’ Mario after seeing the film, Meledandri added, ‘I don’t think so.’

The Mario and Luigi characters first debuted in the Japanese 1983 arcade game Mario Bros. but became known to American gamers with the release of Super Mario Bros. for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in 1987.

Arcade: The Mario and Luigi characters first debuted in the Japanese 1983 arcade game Mario Bros. but became known to American gamers with the release of Super Mario Bros. for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in 1987

The game is considered one of the greatest of all time, selling over 50 million copies worldwide and spawning a massive gaming franchise.

The game had previously been adapted into the 1993 live-action Super Mario Bros. film starring Bob Hoskins as Mario and John Leguizamo as Luigi.

The film was such a colossal flop at the box office ($20 million worldwide from a $48 million budget) that Nintendo refused to license any of its games for a live-action movie adaptation for decades, until 2019’s Detective Pikachu. 

Adaptation: The game had previously been adapted into the 1993 live-action Super Mario Bros. film starring Bob Hoskins as Mario and John Leguizamo as Luigi

This new Super Mario Bros. animated movie also stars Jack Black as Bowser, Keegan-Michael Key as Toad, Seth Rogen as Donkey Kong, Fred Armisen as Cranky Kong, Kevin Michael Richardson as Kamek and Sebastian Maniscalco as Spike, with a ‘surprise cameo’ from Charles Martinet.

Martinet is best known for voicing Mario, Luigi and other characters from the Super Mario Bros. franchise in dozens of different video games.

The film will be released in theaters December 21, 2022. 

New cast: This new Super Mario Bros. animated movie also stars Jack Black as Bowser, Keegan-Michael Key as Toad, Seth Rogen as Donkey Kong, Fred Armisen as Cranky Kong, Kevin Michael Richardson as Kamek and Sebastian Maniscalco as Spike, with a ‘surprise cameo’ from Charles Martinet

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  • Mario Bros. Producer Chris Meledandri Defends Casting Non-Italian Chris Pratt