A co-producer for Super Mario Bros: The Movie has defended Chris Pratt as Mario; but revealed he won’t be doing an Italian accent throughout.
The announcement of the cast has been divisive and meme’d. While many seem to be quite happy with Charlie Day as Luigi and Jack Black as Bowser, the general consensus seems to be the cast were chosen on popularity rather than suitability. Many streaming the announcement during the Nintendo direct were driven to fits of laughter [1, 2, 3].
Many have taken issue with Pratt voicing Mario, while Charles Martinet is only having cameos. As an actor typically cast as wise-cracking heroes, and Mario’s happy-go-lucky personality and very distinctive Italian-American accent, many were concerned what compromises would be made.
It may be for this very reason that co-producer Chris Meledandri defended the casting. “All I can tell you is the voice that he’s doing for us, and Mario, is phenomenal” Meledandri told Too Fab, “Yeah I can’t wait for people to hear it.”
Meledandri also briefly addressed concerns that Pratt being cast rather than an Italian. “Well, as an Italian American myself, I understand,” Meledandri stated. “You know, I understand the comments. Charlie Day, who’s playing Luigi, actually comes from Italian heritage. Yeah so that’s our nod.”
When asked how much Pratt and Day would “lean into the Italian-ness” (backed by the interviewer imitating Mario’s voice and his “It’s a-me” quote) Meledandri responded “We cover it in the movie, so you’ll see that we definitely nod to that, but that’s not the tenor of the performance throughout film.” Meledandri also stated he did not think the performance of Mario would generate any outcry.
There’s a lot that can be read into Meledandri’s comments. Does this mean Mario won’t have his “a-“ verbal tick (a stereotype of Italian-American accents), or that his accent will be more Americanized? Will Mario still be the perpetually joyous character fans have come to know, or will he face doubt and peril? We will keep you informed as we learn more.
Pratt briefly spoke about his casting on Instagram, letting loose a monotoned “It’s a-me. A-Mario” before quickly saying that was not indicative of his performance in the film. Pratt also seems to have taken the reaction to the casting in his stride, sharing memes made by others.
Super Mario Bros.: The Movie will premiere December 21st, 2022 in North America, and coming soon to Europe and Japan.
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