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Dream Casting: Super Mario Bros.

Contributed by
Jun 1, 2018

Dream Casting is an imaginative look at the casting process of potential Hollywood projects based on comics and other media. This isn't just about what is being made; this is about what should be made, and who we think should be the stars.

This is the last week (at least for a while) that I'm focusing on classic Nintendo games, so obviously there was only one choice for the finale. I know the focus is on animation at the moment, but I continue to believe a good live-action Super Mario movie is possible. Sure, the first attempt was a disaster, but that was a whole different era. With the advances in digital technology, plus a greater willingness by studios to spend big bucks on stuff like this, you could get a Mushroom Kingdom that looks pretty great.

The key to a Super Mario Bros. movie is that the tone is always lighthearted, even in the face of danger. The plot will be an adventure, but there should be no shortage of jokes, ideally good enough jokes to draw in kids and adults alike. That's why I filled the cast with comedic actors who can handle this balance.

Josh Gad as Mario

Some may find Josh Gad annoying, but in movies like Murder on the Orient Express, he's proven that he's a real actor who can play a variety of roles. With a big enough mustache, I think he could make a great Mario.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Luigi

Similarly, most people think of Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Inception; Looper) as a serious actor, but he can be incredibly funny. With his own mustache to rival Gad's, he'll make a great Luigi.

Katrina Bowden as Princess Peach

Princess Peach is strong and powerful in her own way, and I didn't want to make the common Hollywood mistake of playing down how conventionally feminine she is in a misguided effort at portraying that strength. That's why I chose Katrina Bowden (Tucker and Dale vs Evil), who can strike a more interesting balance.

Thomas Middleditch as Toad

I considered a lot of short bald guys for this part, but ultimately I think the mushroom folks should be digital/mocap characters, and Thomas Middleditch (Silicon Valley) has the kind of nervous energy Toad needs.

Zoe Kravitz as Princess Daisy

Zoe Kravitz (Mad Max: Fury Road) can bring her own underutilized comedic chops to the more tomboyish Princess.

Tom Kenny as Yoshi

Yoshi's not much for dialogue, but he does make noises and say his own name. Voice actor Tom Kenny (Adventure Time) will no doubt find a way to inject lots of character into that.

Juno Temple as Rosalina

I'm not sure there'd be space in the first movie (no pun intended) for the intergalactic sorceress Rosalina to do very much, but she can at least drop in to set up a more Galaxy-inflected sequel. Juno Temple (Horns; Unsane) is an unusual actress who always sort of seems like she just landed from outer space.

David Krumholtz as Wario

David Krumholtz (The Deuce) is a strong enough actor to find the humanity in Mario's grosser, greedier doppelganger, without making him any less ridiculous.

Ben Schwartz as Waluigi

Waluigi's character is pretty undefined, so I think you can let Ben Schwartz (Parks and Recreation) do pretty much whatever he wants. It's guaranteed to be weird and funny.

Michael Keaton as Bowser

Michael Keaton (Spider-Man: Homecoming) can be legitimately terrifying... and, of course, he can be funny. As Bowser, his voice should sound scary but the character will be largely comedic. That's a balance Keaton is uniquely suited for.

Bobby Moynihan as Bowser Jr

Bobby Moynihan (Me, Myself and I) often performs with a kind of childlike energy that will make him a perfect voice/mocap actor for the Koopa prince.