Casting Chris Pratt as Mario Made ‘Total Sense,’ Directors Tell Baffled Fans: ‘He’s Really Good at Playing a Blue-Collar Hero’

Chris Pratt’s voice role as Mario in “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” has been a point of debate ever since he was cast. Pratt is not Italian, after all, and many fans were left baffled when the movie’s first trailer dropped last October and revealed Pratt’s Brooklyn-heavy Mario voice. It’s not a concern for the film’s directors, Michael Jelenic and Aaron Horvath. The filmmakers told Total Film magazine that casting Pratt made sense given the Mario at the center of their story.

“It’s a bit of an origin tale. It’s the story of Mario becoming Super Mario,” Horvath said about the film, adding that finding the perfect Mario voice meant finding an actor who could believably portray a plumber from Brooklyn who is “a blue-collar guy from a family of Italian immigrants.”

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“For us, it made total sense,” the director stressed about casting Pratt. “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.”

Pratt told Variety last year that he “worked really closely with the directors” to find the Mario voice that made sense for the story.

“I tried out a few things and landed on something that I’m really proud of and can’t wait for people to see and hear,” Pratt added. “It’s an animated voiceover narrative. It’s not a live-action movie. I’m not gonna be wearing a plumber suit running all over. I’m providing a voice for an animated character, and it is updated and unlike anything you’ve heard in the Mario world before.”

One of the film’s biggest detractors so far as been John Leguizamo, who brought Luigi to life opposite Bob Hoskins’ Mario in 1993’s live-action “Super Mario Bros.” The actor told IndieWire last year that “The Super Mario. Bros Movie” went “backwards” by having two white actors voice Mario and Luigi. “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” actor Charlie Day voices Luigi in the film.

“I’m O.G. A lot of people love the original,” Leguizamo said when asked for his thoughts on the Chris Pratt-starring new Mario movie. “I did Comic-Con in New York and in Baltimore, and everyone’s like, ‘No, no, we love the old one, the original.’ They’re not feeling the new one.’ I’m not bitter. It’s unfortunate.”

“My directors Annabel Jankel and Rocky Morton fought really hard for me to be the lead because I was a Latin man, and they [the studio] didn’t want me to be the lead,” the actor added. “They fought really hard, and it was such a breakthrough. For them to go backwards and not cast another [actor of color] kind of sucks.”

“The Super Mario Bros. Movie” opens in theaters April 5, 2023.

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