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Anya Taylor-Joy on reimagining 'Super Mario Bros.' Princess Peach as she 'always' should have been

This is not the Princess Peach you remember from the original Mario games.

By Matthew Jackson
Mario, Peach, and Toad from The Super Mario Bros. Movie (2023)

In the original Super Mario Bros. game, Princess Peach is basically just a living McGuffin, the reason Mario has to move through all those levels and battle all those creatures throughout the Mushroom Kingdom and beyond. Over and over again, you think you're just about to reach her, but then she's in another castle, and another castle, until you finally meet her and receive her thanks. It's a very basic character setup, and in The Super Mario Bros. Movie, things go a little differently for the pink-clad ruler.

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Speaking to Universal Pictures publicity in a junket interview ahead of the film's release, Princess Peach herself, Anya Taylor-Joy, discussed her portrayal of the character as a capable, strong leader of a powerful kingdom that just happens to be under threat from another powerful leader, Bowser (Jack Black), and therefore needs some help from Mario (Chris Pratt) and Luigi (Charlie Day). For Taylor-Joy, it wasn't just refreshing to play a more immediately capable Peach, but it made perfect sense in the context of what we know about her Kingdom and the people around her who care so much about her wellbeing.

"Princess Peach is an incredibly capable and great leader, first and foremost," Taylor-Joy said. "And if you actually think about it, it makes sense that this is the way that she should have always been played. Because if you're the ruler of the Mushroom Kingdom -- and technically, this is a flourishing society -- if you're constantly being kidnapped and moved from castle to castle, you're not doing a very good job of leading. So I feel like this is the way she was supposed to be."

Fortunately for Taylor-Joy, she wasn't the only one who felt that way, something she worried about at least a little before taking on the role of gaming's most famous princess.

"She's a 3-D character. She's not just 'Save me, Mario,'" she said. "It's not only that, and I feel so grateful that Nintendo, Illumination, and the directors, we were all on the same page, because when I was first approached to play her, I was so excited and so thrilled, but slightly trepidatious, just because I didn't want to play the damsel in distress. So I'm really glad that we were all on the same page there."

We'll get to see much more of Taylor-Joy's powerful Princess when The Super Mario Bros. Movie hits theaters Apr. 5. Order tickets right here.